What is the most effective way, in approaching a family member about sponsoring a non-profit group you've recently gotten involved with?
February 7, 2011 3:45 PM   Subscribe

What is the most effective way in approaching a family member about sponsoring a non-profit group you've recently gotten involved with?

I've very recently gotten involved in a local chapter of a large non-profit organization. This organization provides information, classes, support, and services to communities suffering from a particular neuro-degenerative disease. By the end of the first meetingI attended, I had designed a "to-do" list of things I could do to help this organization make their upcoming fundraiser event an even bigger success.

One of the ideas I had was to approach a family member(my uncle) for event sponsorship. This family member owns an extremely lucrative business and I would essentially ask them to help support this cause by donating money in a sum larger than $250-- although my ultimate goal would be to influence them to donate about $2500+ since there are several perks in donating that much(his business would be advertised, written about in a newsletter, promoted at the fundraising event, etc).

Note: this family member does not have any ties with this particular neuro-degenerative disease and therefore, it would be like any other charity asking for sponsorship(except that he will have his family member(me) asking him personally).

So here are my questions:
-Should I call his cell phone during business hours and set up a date/time to get together?

-Should I call his house phone after business hours and set up a date/time to get together?

-What would convince YOU, as a business owner, to donate a large amount of money to a charity that you may or may not necessarily feel inclined to? (Are there things I should say that would help sway his decision in my favor-- things that apply to businesses making large sum donations or any benefits they get from it?)
posted by UsagiBride to Work & Money (8 answers total)
I generally am a big advocate of keeping personal and work environments as separate as possible. (and this is only me mind you) I would feel a little uncomfortable by family members asking me for large sums of money for their cause.

I, personally, would prefer it done as much as a business as possible.

Now... there are some factors only you are going to be able to judge. Does this family member regularly blend business and family, are they exceptionally fond of you, do they have a LOT of money... some of these factors may be indicative of how the relative should be approached... and weather it should be you doing the approaching.
posted by edgeways at 3:56 PM on February 7, 2011

I vote for option C: neither. Send him an email telling him you have a sponsorship opportunity for him. Send it to his work email address and highlight the perks.
posted by kate blank at 3:58 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would call his house phone after business hours (unless you think he's not so busy during work that he will welcome a not-strictly-business call). Set up a lunch, and make it all about how this would be good for his business. Write-offs, advertising, positive impression on the community. If you know that he likes to feel philanthropic, play that up. Do mention the good cause, but your sell should mostly be about Him and His Business.

But! Also make it very clear that you know he's a business person, and that he might not be able to swing this "this year". You never want to hard sell your own family. Be clear that your family ties will not be harmed if his business passes (at least for now).
posted by ldthomps at 4:02 PM on February 7, 2011

Do you want his business to donate money? Or do you want him personally to donate money?

If the former, I think you need to call him at work, set up an appointment, and make no mention whatsoever of your personal relationship. Tell him why this would benefit his business and how your organization will help his business to grow. Bring a coworker to the meeting with you so that it stays professional and doesn't degenerate into a chat about your relatives. Make a sales pitch just like you would to any other businessperson.

If the latter, you shouldn't mention or involve his business. Here, I'd probably send him an email letting him know that you're working at this place and that you're soliciting donations and asking whether he's interested in hearing more about the organization. This will be awkward, because it's always awkward to ask people you know for money, but you need to make it clear that you're asking as an individual and that you won't be put out or hold it against him if he says no.

Personally, I would not do either of these things. I always think it's rude when people solicit me, and I feel put on the spot when I have to say no. And I always say no unless it's a charity I already support. But you didn't ask whether you should approach him, you asked how. So you need to decide whether you're approaching him as a beloved relative whom you want a favor from or as a businessperson you're soliciting in a business manner. Don't mix the two. And whatever you do, make sure he knows that it's okay to say no.
posted by decathecting at 4:26 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Neither. I speak from much experience being hit up by my siblings' offspring for worthy causes in which I have no personal interest.

Instead, wait for (or create) the next family gathering. Find an opportunity to express to several people (including your uncle) your excitement in/respect for/plans to participate in the event. Listen carefully for any shred of interest. Then follow up with all of the people you spoke to (not just your uncle) with a casual note containing more info about whatever relates to each person's specific shred of interest and some related materials about the group. Close the note with something jaunty about how your plans to participate in the event and gather sponsors is going. Then wait. If they're interested, they'll bite. If not, you haven't damaged any personal relationships and you haven't singled out your uncle as a target.

If this must wait until next year, so be it; you'll have all the more to say about the organization, the event and your role in both.
posted by carmicha at 5:05 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

+1 for don't do it

carmicha has it right... casually volunteer the fact that you're involved with X and are doing Y etc. The let them come to you. If they do, great... if not, don't solicit them. It just creates awkwardness and possibly resentment.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:53 PM on February 7, 2011

Best answer: Exactly what carmicha said. And I say this as someone who late last week dropped a none-too-subtle hint on two friends that I was involved in an organization that was seeking donations on the scale of a thousand or two, and as someone who has his own worthy cause into which he puts a lot, and who scatters some money in other places.

Lead this one by example. Dive into the organization, do what you believe in, and then share with your family, all of them, what you're working on and why you're excited about it. There are a gazillion worthy causes out there, all of which want money. There's a fraction of that who manage their PR image well enough that it's even worth pitching involvement as an advertising spend. This may or may not be such a thing, but the only way you're going to sell it as a worthier cause than all of the other ones they regularly get hit up for is to show them that you believe in it.

Let someone else do the cold calls. Follow-up on the personal conversations. But if you want to maintain a good relationship with your family let them make the moves because they see how much it means to you.
posted by straw at 5:55 PM on February 7, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you everyone for the amazing responses. "Lead by example" really struck home with me. Although I'm not in the position to host a get-together, I think that's a wonderful idea with so much potential. I see myself using that technique in the near future. Thanks all.
posted by UsagiBride at 5:43 PM on February 10, 2011

« Older laptop hard drive choices   |   How can I get my personal profile to "like"... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.