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How to Solicit Donations (Beg for Free Stuff)

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The most dreaded task for any organization is to solicit donations. Most people dislike asking others for things, especially when they want them for free.

If you can overcome this discomfort, you can yield great benefits for your organization. That’s why I’m going to share some tips to help make this task easier—that way you can be the hero of your organization.

a lady smiling with a heart in front of her and text overlay reading How to Solicit and receive Donations for Your Organization

You may have mastered how to organize a holiday craft fair for your organization (which is no small feat!), but almost any fundraiser you do will involve getting donations from local businesses. Many will be eager to contribute — you just need to get in front of them to ask.

Before you start pounding the pavement to solicit donations, you need to make sure you are heading out on your mission well prepared.

Mental Preparation

If you really want your efforts to be well rewarded, you need to be in the right frame of mind from the start. Make sure you really understand and believe in the purpose for your mission. You’ll be far more successful in persuading others if you are passionate about your cause.

Our high school hosts an after-prom party to keep the students in a safe environment and away from drinking, drugs, and general mischief. Since I have two teenagers, I am a big fan and supporter of this event.

Mental preparation also involves being prepared for rejection. This might seem obvious, but many a do-gooder has been undone after the 20th straight rejection. It’s hard to stay motivated when it seems like all you are hearing is “no.”

Most companies have guidelines regarding who they will donate to and when. Though your cause might be a worthy one, it might not be the right one for them. It isn’t your fault and it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with the cause you are supporting. It doesn’t hurt to have a backup request, something smaller the company can donate or do that will help your organization without creating a large burden for them.

For after-prom, we were seeking large donations to raffle off at the event in the hopes that the opportunity to win valuable prizes would lure more students. When a business told us that they couldn’t help us with a large donation, we offered them the option of providing coupons for our “swag bags” instead. Most businesses liked this option because it helped us by providing an item we could give out to attendees and them since it would bring those individuals to their business when they redeemed the coupons.


Nothing is worse than being turned down when soliciting donations except for losing the sponsorship of a willing party. While some businesses will need time to put something together, many will be ready to provide you with a donation on the spot. They can typically only do this if you have certain items and information with you at the time you make the request.

  • Request Letter – almost all businesses will require an official letter to keep for their records. Be sure your letter includes:
    • Date and time of the event
    • Deadline for submitting donations
    • Details of the event and purpose of the donation
    • Tax-deductibility of the donation (if applicable)
    • Contact information
    • Employer Identification Number (EIN) – some businesses will want this information so they can confirm your organization’s nonprofit status. Some companies have policies prohibiting them from donating to organizations that don’t also have 501(c)(3) status as well so know your organization’s status before you start soliciting.
  • Examples – Have a list of items you are seeking or what will be purchased with cash donations.
  • Clipboard, Pen, and Paper – A potential sponsor might ask you to jot down an additional contact number, or provide you with their corporate contact information. Don’t lose the opportunity because you’re searching for something to write with or a surface to write on.

Click the button below to get the free checklist to track your donations and to find out what you need to do AFTER you make your request and after you receive donations.



12 thoughts on “How to Solicit Donations (Beg for Free Stuff)”

  1. Good evening,
    My name is Irene I am seeking help on how best to approach organizations to help in gift donations. Such as gift cards, products etc.
    My organization is a non profit organization and the gift donations would be for our staff for they work so hard and I believe they all deserve something good for the holidays. If anyone could direct me in the right direction this would mean so much.

    Thank you

    • Hi Irene, simply follow the process in this post. I’ve successfully used it to raise money for several non-profit organizations. Local restaurants and stores generally allocate a small budget for these types of community involvement. If you have a physical building where your organization gathers, offer to put up signs recognizing sponsors. Also, if you have a staff gathering (e.g. an annual holiday party), you can recognize the sponsors at that event. Anything you can do that can show businesses that their donation will not only help your staff members but also enhance the business’ reputation in the community will make you an attractive recipient.

  2. When my children were growing up, they had events and trips that were expensive. They washed cars, mowed lawns, and even organized kitchen cabinets for the neighbors. They also learned to bake cakes at a young age… and neighbors gladly bought them. If they needed more money, I, as their parent was responsible for the remainder. It saddens me to see how our children are being programmed to panhandle,( by their parents and teachers) instead of being responsible for their own recreations. Even going into Walmart, we get bombarded by teens, sitting in lawn chairs, money cans in one hand, IPhone in the other, yelling, ‘ Would you like to donate to our trip to the playoffs?’ He’ll no! I paid for my children, and I not going to use my retirement to pay for yours. Parents need to try to figure out how to be responsible, and pass it on to the children…Deadass parents create deadass kids…who later in life become more deadass parents.

  3. Do you have suggestions on the best way to ask for donations from local businesses for a raffle fundraiser event my daughters friend is trying to have. It’s to raise money to help partially pay for the over $4000 needed for her daughters who are both in a dance drill team. The money will be used to buy costumes, boots, meal tickets, dance techniques camp, this also includes the annual trip February 2018. The big expenses for the family is a financial hardship. My daughters friend thought of doing a raffle to help raise some money but needs items to donate. Any suggestions?

    • Many businesses will donate gift cards or gift certificates. You could bundle them into themes like “date night,” “family fun,” and “spa day.” Since it’s a dance team maybe they could put on a fundraising show. Charge admission and have a concession stand and use the money raised to cover some of those expenses.

  4. This is such a fantastic post! I am so happy you have created this. My father was just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and my friend and I have decided to hold a Bowling Fundraiser with raffles/prizes. My friend has done these before, but I have not. Asking for help has never been a strong point for me or my family, so I need all the help I can get. I am so thankful that I came upon this little article! Yay 🙂 and Thank You 🙂

    • Hi Jennifer, I’m sorry to hear about your father’s diagnosis. The bowling fundraiser is a great idea! I am glad you found the information in this post helpful. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave me a comment to let me know. I imagine you don’t have a lot of time to spare right now so I really appreciate it! Good luck on the fundraiser. I hope you raise lots of money to help pay for your dad’s treatment and medication. I’m sending prayers and positive thoughts your way that the fundraiser and his treatment go well. 🙂

    • I’m glad you found the post helpful. Thanks for sharing it!

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  6. Great tips. I’m terrible at asking for things, so I’m pinning this for the next time I’ll be prepared.

  7. Great post. I generally shy away from this job, but recently went asking for donations with someone who is comfortable doing it, and it was so much easier than I thought. We received some great donations, and wouldn’t have ever had such success at our event if we didn’t ask for the help of our business’ in our community.


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