Solicitation letters to Vendors -- Good/Bad Idea?
March 25, 2010 11:45 AM   Subscribe

Non-Profit People: How do you feel about sending solicitation letters to vendors?
posted by parmanparman to Grab Bag (4 answers total)
I think it depends on the vendor. We've never asked ours directly for cash, but we have 1) asked for donations of goods for events 2) sent them a letter about our holiday card program asking them to make a donation in honor of their employees or clients. And the ones we asked were vetted by the department that engages their services before we actually solicited them. For what it's worth, none of them bit.
posted by kimdog at 12:27 PM on March 25, 2010

Letters go into the circular file if they are just sent by mail. When I've sought donations (usually in goods or services, not cash), I prepare a letter to that business, go to the business, find out if the owner/manager is there and if not, try to make an appointment or at least find out when they will be there, then speak to that person, well, in person. I leave the letter as a tangible reminder of the visit and if I get a maybe I tell them when I will follow up and then do it as promised.
posted by Doohickie at 12:29 PM on March 25, 2010

Yeah, it really depends on the vendor. At my NPO, we usually ask our IT firm for a portion of their services as an in-kind donation, same goes for other services we use like website design and such. But it's never with just a cold letter. Since you work with these people regularly, it's better to get them on the phone or at an event or at lunch. Get your development director to speak with them first - if a letter is necessary, send it only as a formality.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:46 PM on March 25, 2010

We are a local branch of a huge, well-established national nonprofit and we do this all the time, with great results. (In fact, I have five letters on my desk to vendors to go out this evening). Our approach is this:

1) Personalized form letter with a handwritten note at the bottom and materials in the envelope.
2) 8-10 days later a follow up call.
3) if the call doesn't generate a donation, I'll generally make an appointment to stop by.
4) If I can't get in touch with the person, or they've dodged me, I'll send another letter and go back through the process again until either I get a check or a firm no.

We get a lot of cash (upwards of 50K per year) from our vendors, plus in-kind donations. One thing we offer is a "banner program" - so, for a thousand dollars our vendors (or any other local business) can have a really big (about 5' x 3') banner with their logo on it hanging in our lobby for all our members to see as they use our facility. I'd guess there are about 75-100 of these banners throughout the building. Of course, this works because we have upwards of 4000 members who use our facility monthly, and our vendors want their name to be seen. But none of our vendors have ever thought it was strange we were asking them for donations - quite the opposite, they've come to expect it.
posted by anastasiav at 3:24 PM on March 25, 2010

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