Donations are often an integral part of low-budget event success and may include supplies, staffing, prizes and related elements to help the event operate efficiently.

When people think of “donations” their thoughts tend to wander towards money or items intended to directly benefit a charitable cause. However, fundraiser donations are often an integral part of low-budget event success and may include supplies, staffing, prizes and related elements to help the event operate efficiently.

Donations can reduce your fundraising expenses and help local businesses expand their community outreach efforts. Using the collective efforts of your organization and local resources you can successfully secure items and services for your event in exchange for a marketing opportunity for businesses.

To get started, meet with members of your organization and compare fundraiser options. Social gatherings, parties, runs, walks, and auctions are a few examples of fundraising initiatives. Choose a course of action that will help meet your fundraising goals and engage members of your community. The fundraiser that is chosen will determine the type of donations you will need to solicit.

Create lists of supplies and services that will be needed to produce your chosen fundraiser. Basic supply items needed for many fundraising activities are tables and tableware, nametags or race badges, decorations and trash/recycling receptacles. Professionals that can donate services to help make your fundraiser a success include DJs, caterers, party hosts or event planners and security guards. Assign basic duties such as event promotion, ticket handling, set-up, check-in, and cleanup and to your organization’s fundraising committee.

Find businesses and professionals that can help to promote your cause using personal contacts or an Internet search. List ten possible donation sources for each item or service needed to run the fundraiser and organize these sources based on the size of their business, community influence and previous charitable acts. Ask committee members to help you contact each source from the list to request donations and secure donations for the most expensive products and services first, if your fundraising resources are limited. Also, it’s usually best to assign specific items or services to one member to reduce the likelihood that a donation source is contacted twice.

When reaching out to businesses it’s important to offer incentives in exchange for donations. Examine all aspects of your organization that can be leveraged to secure donations for a fundraiser. A group website, media relationships and common interests may increase your chances of receiving donations from some companies. Business owners may be likely to support your cause if they receive incentives that help to attract customers or publicity, such as website advertisements, free admission and distribution of their marketing materials. Members of your organization can also wear T-shirts with a company logo that identifies the largest sponsor of the fundraising effort.

Pick-up all supply donations to eliminate any shipping costs that your supporters may incur. Attach their business card to donations that will be used as prizes at your event and send a thank-you letter to every sponsor after all fundraising efforts are completed.