I want their cash!
July 30, 2006 1:28 AM   Subscribe

How do I go about getting corporate sponsors for a trek down the Murray River (Australia) in order to raise money for a charity? I'm doing it for a legitimate charity, so how do I get companies to donate? I've never done anything like this before, so all help is appreciated.

I'm raising money for a centre run by the Jesuit Mission in Cambodia. It'd be wonderful if I could find some company to either donate or lend us the two kayaks we'll need.

Also, once that's sorted, I'm hoping to get some companies to donate money. I don't really know the best way to go about this. I was thinking of trying to get some kind of publicity in newspaper or radio, and then writing to various companies saying "we'll be in the paper, donate $ to our cause and you'll be a sponsor and people will hear about you!"

Is this a reasonable way to go about it? Who should I write to in these companies? Should I call instead? Show up in person?

Any ideas as to how we can be as convincing as possible? Thanks in advance.
posted by twirlypen to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Corporate sponsorship is tough to get for small projects, since most of the big companies will want projects with national reach (and many Australian companies will prefer to sponsor projects which will benefit Australia, since that's where their staff and customers are). If you think there will be chances for publicity, perhaps at certain towns along the way, you'd do well to focus on companies in those local areas. Small and medium business does more corporate giving than big business does in Australia, according to the ABS.

Lots of companies also like it if you can involve their employees somehow in any project you're doing - perhaps supplying them with some kind of sponsorship form, or posters to put up inviting sponsorships. As for who to talk to, if you can't find any info on their website then I would just call and ask who deals with their sponsorship or community relations stuff.

To be as convincing as possible, you might want to have something from the Jesuit Mission themselves, with someone to talk to there who can verify your story (there are a lot of dodgy pretenders out there...) Also giving them some idea of how the money will be spent - what kind of centre is it, how much will it cost, who will it benefit, what kind of activity will take place there and what other fundraising work is going on for it? And I'd also include some information on whether any of the money is going to your expenses or you're going to donate your time and pay your own expenses. It'll go down a lot better if you're not taking any expenses out at all.

And don't be discouraged if you're knocked back. I know some companies, even local ones, get ten or more requests per week and they have to be choosy about what they support. If you get a knockback, it's nothing personal.
posted by andraste at 1:48 AM on July 30, 2006

I have done a few things like this here in the US and a couple of things I have noticed seem to work:

Show up in person, preferably with some printed matter or other stuff to show them. Even if they turn you down for sponsorship, they might let you put up a flyer.

Small businesses respond more readily to this sort of small-scale fundraising but don't hesitate to ask larger companies. Often the manager of a store will have some ability to support local causes without going through corporate headquarters.

Start with businesses you frequent. Managers are pretty quick to help a regular customer if they know you.

Let people know you are doing this. Your circle of friends and acquaintances is bound to have some good contacts that you don't.

Don't worry too much about emphasizing the publicity aspect of your project. If you can get some media exposure, that is great, but people, even when they are acting as a representative of a company, generally do things like this to feel good/out of a sense of community, and so on, not for free publicity.

Don't turn down anthing that is offered. You might get all sorts of trinkets from various retailers that can be used as door prizes at a fundraising event or raffle prizes.

Consider approaching a local bar or restaurant as a venue for the above-mentioned raffle. There is one bar we have worked with several times that is happy to have the increased traffic on a normally slow day (Saturday afternoon) and in turn donates part of his profits.

Those are just a few suggestions off the top of my head; I'm sure you will get many more.
posted by TedW at 7:14 AM on July 30, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks. These are great. Any more ideas? I'm lapping these up.
posted by twirlypen at 7:44 AM on July 30, 2006

Slightly off-topic, but do you know about the Murray River Marathon? I did this with school for several years. If you're not aware of it, the Red Cross runs a 5 day race down the river after Christmas every year. If you get in touch with them, they probably have a whole lot of contacts, with river-area companies and kayaking-related businesses, and can help you with organisation if you need any.

As far as fundraising ideas go, we always sold chocolates - it takes a bit of time, but can make a fair bit of money if you have the right audience, or could be used as an opening gambit to approach small businesses ("would you like to buy some chocolate, or maybe sponsor me?").
posted by jacalata at 6:06 PM on July 30, 2006

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