How can I get you to give me a donation?
August 10, 2017 11:06 AM   Subscribe

I want to draft a letter for donations/sponsorship for a youth-centered program I want to introduce. But I don't know how to put that on paper let alone making it attractive and interesting enough for persons to see its worth and want to invest/donate. Pointers please.

I want to host an outback adventure type Kiddies camp with emphasis on our History and Heritage in addition to other outdoorsy adventure type stuff. It is customary for big organisations to donate and sponsor worthwhile ventures but I'm not sure how to go about convincing them that this camp is one of those worthwhile ventures.

I was recently instrumental in assisting someone launch their summer swim camp for children -the first of its kind- I drafted a letter that focused on developing swimming as a life skill that would be useful to have, in addition to providing a positive avenue for our at risk youth to access. He was very successful in gaining support.

So, how do I go about convincing a firm to help me fund my History adventure camp?

What kind of information would you want to see in a letter like this?

What would make you want to sign on to this cause?

Any pointers? Thanks!
posted by Whatifyoufly to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you see this as a non- profit endeavor, you don't want small donations, you want a grant. Spend some time researching funding sources, particularly those that fund educational and/or historical initiatives. Government organizations, NGOs, possibly charitable community groups like the Rotary Club are a good place to start. Find a few that seem like a good fit for your endeavor, then apply! You may also want to look into possibly aligning yourself/collaborating with some sort of official organization - usually grants go to organizations, not individuals. The alternative approach would be to pitch it as a business idea, in which case you'd be looking for investors not donors. Perhaps a good place to start would be to set up a few meetings with people who run camps and see how they got their start. It's a great idea- best of luck!
posted by emd3737 at 11:48 AM on August 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

I realize that I didn't really answer your question. I think you want to highlight feasibility and professionalism when reaching out to sponsors. First, you want to have a clear plan of the camp and explain it- who will your campers be? Where/When will it be held? What are the objectives? Next, you want to explain how you'll make this happen. Make sure you're fully across of the operational aspects of what your camp will require- a detailed budget, staffing needs, location hire, any permits or licenses required etc. Then, summarize your achievements thus far (e.g. partnerships obtained, director hired, location identified, legal/financial entity established). Next, highlight your current needs and request support. Include some information on why they should sponsor you- referencing the organization's commitment to charity, building ties with the community etc.
posted by emd3737 at 12:02 PM on August 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

I agree -- this is a grant situation. If you don't already know what organizations and grant makers fund these types of programs, you'll need to figure that out.

Check out the Foundation Center online and look up the closest public access to their databases -- usually a public library or one at a university nearby. Do a keyword search (there are video tutorials for how to use the databases) and find out who has given money, and how much, to similar things. Research them and then start drafting individual letters, or better yet, if they have open grants, apply for a grant.

In order to qualify for donations or grants, you will need federal and state tax-exempt status (which is a separate thing from simply registering a business as a non-profit). For new programs like yours, I always advise finding a fiscal sponsor instead of setting up a non-profit yourself. A fiscal sponsor is simply a non-profit in good standing with the IRS with a similar charter that allows you to use their tax-exempt status to legally receive donations and grants.

If you're trying to set this up as a for-profit endeavor, you can get donations but they will be taxed and are much harder to get -- in this case it's better to go after investors, which is a different process entirely.

PM me if you want more info on this stuff!
posted by ananci at 12:03 PM on August 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

Why are you telling this poster not to ask a business for money? Fundraising is about grants, it's about business and corporate development, and it's about small donors.
The value of knowing how to raise money is the choice of asking appropriately for the money that you want. The sign of a bad fundraising professional is not knowing how to ask when it is appropriate to do so.
A business for example is going to ask 'what am I getting out of this partnership?', and whatever you present to them has to be able to answer that one fundamental question.
Asking for a grant is going to use the same exact kind of documentation that most large businesses and businesses who know their products and are sceptical of yours are going to be asking for. They want to see, on paper, that you can succeed.
Sometimes a small donor will want to see written information; other times, small donors who are active advocates should be given small pieces of information, papers, proposals, plans, and other documents if they've been approved for release and if they can be used as grease to develop further gifts.
You obviously have a track record of success when it comes to grant applications put your hand towards writing a proposal using the exact same terms as a grant. You need to be prepared to go out on a limb and find the individuals within every company that you want to approach who can be the advocates for this idea within their companies. Convincing those companies is really going to be about convincing those individuals to make the first small gifts and make a genuine connection to what you're doing, l so that when they ask the higher ups above them they will be able to effectively communicate your message in person. If you are going to be unable to deliver your message yourself you need to find willing and able advocates to do it for you.
posted by parmanparman at 2:23 PM on August 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm really not sure why you need to be working with this notion as a grant or gift or donation situation. The idea you have can absolutely be run in two ways: 1. as a for-profit (or at least not nonprofit) LLC, or 2. as a program within an existing nonprofit.

The advantage to #2 is that you can piggyback on existing trust, insurance, marketing, recruiting, and other structures. This would be a great sub-program to offer under an existing and trusted youth camp or travel program.

This doesn't need to be its own organization. Just approach an existing, kindred-spirit organization with your proposal and offer to run under their flag. I have some experience with this setup in the context of a USA youth camp, if you'd like to connect with me via MeMail.
posted by Miko at 7:43 PM on August 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Agree with Miko. You get more donations if you are a legit 501(c)3, or partnered with one. It's not hard to do yourself, but don't reinvent the wheel, you can easily find and existing non-profit to work with. I've started or been involved with starting several NPs over the years, you can MeMail me if you want more info.
posted by mmf at 10:42 AM on August 11, 2017

A few common elements to fund raising campaigns that I've seen be successful are:

-Have a good story that explains what you are doing and why it matters, but also has a narrative element to it to help connect with people.

-Have clear objectives, and be able to explain what specifically is being funded. It sometimes helps to be raising money for a specific project (Raise $1,000 to buy an xyz) instead of "Give us operating funds to stay afloat".

-Some places won't want to be the original funding with which to start your project, particularly if you are unknown and haven't established a track record. It will help to explain what resources you already have and be able to make it clear that they won't be putting money into something that might not pan out if you don't get enough support.

-Make it clear how your project is benefiting the community and the people who attend, rather then just being your hobby or a way for you to make money. Your wanting to start a camp isn't a reason for someone to give you money. You identifying a need in the community and recognizing that you have the tools to help address it might be.

-You might want to set up a website for the organization. It doesn't need to be complicated, but it will make you look a little more official.

Also, don't forget about asking for non monitory donations. A sporting goods store might not want to give you cash, but might be willing to give you some equipment.
posted by nalyd at 5:46 PM on August 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thank you everyone.
posted by Whatifyoufly at 8:09 AM on August 13, 2017

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