In a previous post, we addressed how hosting a raffle or auction could generate ancillary income for your event. That being said a lot of people do not know how to go about getting items for these events. It seems like a daunting task that scares even the most hardened of Sponsorship Chairs. Don’t worry we are here to help you overcome the dread that comes with soliciting by breaking down how to source items.
Use Your Connections
The single most important way to source items is through your personal connections. Now we aren’t saying to go out and attack every single person you have ever met for a donation or if you have to solicit multiple times a year to constantly hit the same people. Both of these tactics will make you seem desperate and a little crazy. What is effective is reaching out to companies or people that you have personal connections with. If you go to the same nail salon, every two weeks ask them if they would be willing to donate to your event. Have your In-Kind Form and Information Letter ready and hand that over to them when you make “the ask”. The majority of the time these people will give you a gift certificate since you are a loyal client of theirs. Also, reach out to any personal connections you have that might be willing to donate. If your best friend’s daughter just started a personal training business, it wouldn’t hurt to ask her if she would be willing to donate. She would be increasing her exposure to your audience and could potentially get new clients out of the donation.
Another way to source donations is Google. No, they rarely give out donations, but the tool is your friend. If you just type in “Online Donation Request” you come up with over 26,000,000 results!!!! This ranges from everything from Gift Baskets to vacation requests. You can even narrow the search down to “Your City, Online Donation Request” and be able to target items that might be more relatable to your event. While there is no guarantee that a donation will come through if you send out enough requests you will eventually hit the jackpot.
A great source is discount sites. Sites such as Groupon, Gilt, and Living Social are all full of companies that are trying to market themselves. These companies are basically slashing their prices to nothing in order to connect with people and hopefully convert them to customers after their initial purchase. By targeting these companies and letting them know that you found them on the discount site you are already letting them know that you are interested in being a customer and it is more exposure for them. It is very rare for companies that are on one of these sites to not offer a donation of some kind to your organization.
The final way we recommend sourcing prizes is through other organizations. If you have attended another event and there was a donation from a specific restaurant use that in your pitch/email. Make sure to mention that you saw that they donated to “The Big Fancy Gala down the Street” and that you feel they would be a wonderful addition to your silent auction portfolio. This is another area where Google can be your friend. Don’t be afraid to Google “silent auctions, hometown” or “special events, hometown”. This can pull up a list of events and if you are lucky will link directly to their donation page. You can then use this information the same way that you did for either the discount sites of referral ask.
Hopefully, this post took a little bit of the fear out of soliciting for items. Let us know if these tactics work for you and what you were able to secure this year.