We are very involved in helping animals in need through our Animal Charms jewelry web site. But we also have a business to run, so we tend to help charities that can help us raise even more money for them than those that are either indifferent to the needs of business or even worse, go out of their way to make it hard to help them. Over the last few years however, we have made a list of seemingly simple things that can, and should, be done to make it easier for these charities raise money.
- Make the fact that you are a 501(c)3 obvious. I can’t tell you how many hours we have spent over the years trying to figure out if we were looking at a ‘real’ charity or just someone with a good heart trying to help. If you want businesses to donate you pretty much need to be a registered charity.Many businesses take advantage of the tax breaks that they get from donating. So be prepared to offer a receipt for any donations, but especially those over $250.
- Make sure that someone monitors your charity’s email account. We send out a lot of contact emails to discuss ways that we can donate or help and more than half of them are never replied to.
- Understand that businesses want to work with you, not take advantage of you. A large percentage of charities treat businesses as if they were ATMs. When we ask if we can co-brand on something, or get a mention in your newsletter, in exchange for a donation we are not trying to take advantage of you. We are looking for ways that we can all benefit from working together.In the end, if we make more money, we have more money to give. We are also more likely to give to those that work with us rather than those that don’t.
- Search out, and reach out, to business that are likely to help. At Animal Charms we have three different ways we can help a charity raise money. Not once have we been contacted first by a charity. We help plenty of charities, but always have to seek them out and ask if we can donate.
- Offer something to businesses that donate to you. It could be as simple as a mention in your newsletter, or even a sponsor page on your website that links back to the business thanking them, or it can be as complex as a full marketing campaign complete with press releases and interviews.
- Create a sponsors page where you can list all of your business sponsors in one place. Great three levels of sponsorship and give each level a little more than the previous level. For example, a Silver Level donation gets a link to their website, a Gold Level donation gets a link, a banner and a short paragraph about them and Platinum Level donors get the previous perks plus a paragraph in your newsletter. (You do put out a newsletter don’t you?) But most of all, let your donors know how much you expect for each level of donation in an easy to find location.
- Bonus Tip! Make sure that your charity is represented on sites like Charity Navigator or GuideStar. While this isn’t mandatory, larger companies like to have outside assurance that they are dealing with charities with proven histories of helping.
Businesses want to help. We help by making more money so that we can donate to charities. If you can help us make more money, we can donate more to the charity so that it can focus on what it does best, fulfill its mission.