How do we fundraise for a nonprofit daycare?
November 16, 2019 7:23 AM   Subscribe

I'm on the fundraising committee for a parent-led nonprofit daycare. We would like to raise money from businesses for need-based financial aid. How do we do that?

Background: my kid goes to a nonprofit nursery school in the Boston area. The school tries to raise about $20,000 per year from fundraising, which goes to financial aid for families who otherwise couldn't afford to attend. This money comes mostly from current parents and alumni, through events like a silent auction or beer tasting.

This year we want to see if there are companies that would give in support of our financial aid program, either local businesses in our neighborhood or big companies in the area. But we have no idea how to start:

* How do we list potential companies to contact?
* How do we find the right person or department to speak with?
* What do we ask for? (I would welcome a literal script for this.)
* What should we offer in exchange? (E.g. should donations to be attached to an event/status/recognition of some kind?)

This is all pretty new to the folks on our committee, so any kind of "here's how I'd approach your situation" is welcome, and a full "here's the playbook for fundraising for this type of nonprofit" would be amazing!
posted by john hadron collider to Education (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I mean, the general rule in fundraising is that kids and animals are the easiest to raise funds for, because if you won't give money for a baby or a puppy, you're an asshole and you know it. And even with that truth and an extensive efforts with actual upsides for businesses, my org has never had a successful business fundraising drive.

The closest we've come is 12 business sponsoring a specific month each on an annual calendar, which covered the cost of the calendar printing so that all the sales were profit. And it was very hard to get those 12 businesses even as a very large non-profit.

Dog calendars are one thing but I would not suggest this for kids and babies (the photo submission and selection process would be cutthroat.) However, the strategy of business sponsorship covering the cost of producing an item you can sell to the general public to be able to keep all of the profits it a good one worth working on internally.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:56 AM on November 16, 2019

I am the chair of the communications committee for a local nonprofit that focuses on serving homeless youth and at-risk families in our community. All of the fundraising info comes through my committee and this is what I've gleaned over the last two years:

*Develop a list of potential donors by first going through whatever records or collective memory your committee has and writing down the names of whoever donated in the past. Then start adding businesses that your members have a relationship with - either as employees or customers. If it is a big list, you might divide it up so that one person is not responsible for contacting every business on the list.

*Your first contact can be the person who listed that business as a potential donor. They might already know who you can call directly, or they may be able to find out that information for you. If not, call the business and ask. Shamelessly name drop ("So-and-so suggested I call your business as we are organizing an event to raise funds for our nursery school. Can you tell me who I should contact to ask for a donation?") and whomever you're talking to will usually be happy to transfer you to the appropriate person or department.

*The ask/offer we itemize in a Sponsorship info packet that is available on paper and as a pdf so our business contact has something tangible for their internal donation approval process. Businesses know exactly why we are asking for funds, how we will use their donations, and what recognition they will receive in return for their sponsorship. Example, we just held a fundraiser Trivia Night. We had the logos of the main sponsoring business on all flyers, emails, Facebook event, etc., and thanked them over the mic several times during the event (intro, intermission, before raffling baskets and awarding the grand prize). Businesses that donated items for baskets that were raffled off were listed in emails and on Facebook and thanked over the mic during the event. All of the businesses will receive a handwritten thank you note with photos of the event.

There is a Nonprofit Kit for Dummies that has step-by-step instructions you might find helpful. And it's cheap to buy as a resource for your organization if you don't have access to other training opportunities.

Good luck!
posted by Lady Sugar Maple at 9:27 AM on November 16, 2019 [5 favorites]

Some large corporations will match employee donations so the first thing to do is to make sure you reach out to all current donors and let them know that if their employer offers matching donations they should please apply. It may only a apply for a few people but it doubles their donation at the cost of very little effort.
posted by metahawk at 9:49 AM on November 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

An IRS recognized non-profit? That's better than an not-for-profit that's unrecognized.
Contact the employers of the parents that use the daycare, after interviewing the parents. If the parent is a valuable employee, that might sweeten the prospect of a donation from their employer.
posted by the Real Dan at 10:16 AM on November 16, 2019

Hi! I used to be on the board of a cooperative (nonprofit) preschool; we used fundraising to support sliding scale tuition and additional financial aid for families in need.

Our biggest fundraising effort involved an online auction (we used biddingforgood) so that we could expand our auction to grandparents, alumni families and the greater community. We asked parents to solicit donations from local businesses (or donate their own time/expertise), and every year we had a large volume of gift cards for local restaurants, bookstores, breweries, toy stores, etc. We then sent a letter to each business in following years asking if they would be willing to donate again. In the years we were at the school they raised between $20-30k each year, minus a percentage to the auction site.

We also had several local businesses/restaurants that offered a percentage of their sales during a particular time period (a pizza shop gave us 20% of proceeds for a non-weekend evening, for example); there are probably shops near you that already offer this for local elementary schools, so you might want to check with your families with kids in school for leads.

Other sources of fundraising included:
- matching donations from parent employers
- AmazonSmile (nonprofits can register to receive 0.5% of sales from people who log into and designate your school as the recipient)
- For Small Hands, a Montessori supply catalog/online store, offers a percentage of sales during the last few months of the year to registered schools
- old classics like participation in the annual neighborhood yard sale, requesting gently used books from families for a book sale, a cash raffle, etc.

I hope that's helpful; MeMail me if you want more specific information.
posted by sencha at 10:29 AM on November 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Are you looking for cash donations or for items/services for the silent auction?
posted by bq at 10:34 AM on November 16, 2019

This is a unique situation, but it might be thing...

The non-profit daycare that my daughter goes to is sponsored by the biotech company that is across the street. Employees of the biotech company that use the center don't get a discount, but they do go to the front of the waitlist, which is actually a huge perk due to the lack of childcare options around here at basically any price. Prices are subsidized for everyone to some extent by the biotech company funding large capital expenses at the daycare. These contributions are highlighted prominently in the yearly "corporate responsibility" report.

Would there be nearby companies that would be willing to throw in X amount of dollars to push their employees toward the top of your center's waitlist?
posted by rockindata at 12:51 PM on November 16, 2019

Are you looking for cash donations or for items/services for the silent auction?

I'm more looking for cash donations or grants -- which comes from in general looking for new things we can do in addition to the usual events. For example, other non-event-based ideas I've been thinking about would be, like, can we give parents the option to support the scholarship program on their monthly bill? Can we qualify for additional government programs? Can we do better than Amazon Smile with a holiday gift guide that includes a referral code? The general goal is to diversify support for the scholarship program and draw on different resources than the existing events.
posted by john hadron collider at 12:56 PM on November 16, 2019

Big corporations usually have “corporate philanthropy” pages on their websites that detail grant guidelines and link to grant applications. (Disclosure: my job is to build those applications.) Off the top of my head, Stare Street, Citizens Bank, Raytheon, and Alexion Pharmaceuticals are Mass-based companies that I’ve worked with. Try national companies, too - Walmart does their grants on a store-by-store basis. If you MeMail me and don’t mind waiting until the middle of the week when I’m back from traveling, I can give you more information.
posted by kevinbelt at 1:25 PM on November 16, 2019

Also, if you’re interested in continuing the beer tastings, Lagunitas has a beer donation program.
posted by kevinbelt at 1:26 PM on November 16, 2019

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