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What has worked for your PTA to get donations of goods from local businesses? Such as food for PTA dinners or door prizes for events?

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One of our PTA members typed up a simple letter on letter head asking for donations. She included information such as type of event (ex: Muffins for Mom) and expected attendance. We also had our tax ID # on the letter. Most of the local grocery stores allowed the PTA to pick out about $25.00 worth of groceries. For our raffle at our Family Dance in June,many local business donated items such as gift certificates, flower bouquets and car wash certificates.
Another idea would be to barter with them. Tell them what you need and offer them an advertising space in your PTA newsletter. They get targeted advertising and you get the items you need. Even if they offer up the items without having to barter ad space, giving them a small ad in your newsletter is always beneficial for future goodwill.
That is a great idea. The executive board and I were just discussing this same topic. Do you know the protocol regarding donation?
We have went door to door, speaking with the business owner face to face has worked better for us. Sending a letter for a request didn't work here :( We recieve very little reply. We have a packet of reciepts with us and offer the buisness to use the donations as a tax write off also.
We are 3 small towns and try to keep business local for any event we plan, but with the economy lately the donations have been smaller :(
I LOVE the idea of advertising on the newsletter, another way of saying Thank you for thier support. We just incorperated a PTO website, this would be another great way to advertise and show support. I will definatley bring this suggestion to our meeting next week.

Sheila Davis
Our PTA members did the requests in person, but also had the letter in hand. Many larger business need that letter to use at tax time. In the past I worked for a large grocery chain, and they couldn't give a donation without the tax id # of the non-profit requesting the donation. Our newsletter always has a section thanking the business for their donations. The end of the year newsletter thanked every donor for the whole year. We will use that this year to show potential donors the publicity they get from their donations.
We solicited donations for our teacher appreciation reception via email with local, independent businesses, mostly, since the larger chains tend to have formal procedures in place. We got quite a few gift certificates that we raffled off to teachers, some gifts from a gift shop, a bouquet of flowers, and baked goods from a couple coffee shops. I sent out several hundred emails to any kind of business I could think of, and got about 30 replies--pretty good response rate. I just cut and pasted a stock email.

Hi Emily,

Can you share with me the email you used so I can have an idea what to put in mine?  How did you get the businesses email addresses?

What I've done when soliciting auction donations (and the basic idea applies here, too) is to have a solicitation letter printed on 2-copy NCR paper (you can ask Kinko's to do this for you; it's pretty cheap) with a form on it and the Tax ID#. You can then walk the letter into the business, find and talk to the right person, and offer to fill out the form right there on their counter. Leave them with the top copy, for their tax records, take the bottom one with you, and either take the donation or arrange for a later pick-up or delivery.

I'll upload my letter here; it's based on one that one of our customers designed.

I have more info on donation letters in this installment from an email newsletter I send out:

We have found it very effective to have a Business Partner Liaison on our PTA Board. Someone who is willing to approach local business merchants for PTA incentives. We have also used the internet to contact various business owners and have found it very successful. While you are out and about with your family doing various summer activities talk to the manager/business owner of the establishment. Many businesses will donate dinner certificates, movie tickets, a free round of mini golf/lazer tag etc ... We also send out a marketing letter to many of our local merchants. I've attached a copy for your reference ... Dear Merchant; As a representative of the (school name) PTA we are approaching local business merchants in the area for school donations in support of various school programs and activities for the 2009-2010 calendar year. Some of the programs this will include are Red Ribbon Week, Health and Safety Week, Reflections, School Walk-a-thon, Teacher Appreciation and our Early Morning Reading Recovery/Literacy Program. We are also currently looking for sponsors to provide incentives and prizes for our PTA membership enrollment from August 15 through September 30th and for our first annual 5K Community Fun Run fundraiser on September 26th. We are asking for incentives in the form of merchandise, gift cards/certificates, discount coupons, honorary memberships and/or monetary contributions/sponsorship. (School name) currently enrolls 950 students which consist of 35 classes in 7 grade levels. With each incentive we hope to provide a wonderful marketing tool/opportunity for many of our local business partners. We invite your organization to help support the (school name) PTA 2009-2010 calendar school year. Please feel free to contact me for additional information or questions. Thank you for your consideration. Respectfully,
We are very structured in how we do this so we don't bombard them with requests. We seek out donations for:
- Our annual fundraising campaign for our school foundation
- Our walkathon (see my blog,
- Our printed directory
- Our auction

In all cases, donors get as much visibility as we can possibly give them. For the annual campaign, they go on a giant banner. For walkathons, they go on the backs of the T Shirts and on a banner. For the printed directory, they purchase space in the back, at various prices for various sizes of space.

They get a formal letter requesting their help and explaining the business opportunity, then we publicize via flyers in our school newsletter. Many school families like the publicity they get. Afterwords they donors get a thank you letter with Tax ID. We keep track year to year so we are sure to re-invite donors from previous years.

In particular bear in mind that being on the back of kids T Shirts is extremely valuable for local businesses. They can become part of a wardrobe essential worn for years! It's a really nice way to raise visibility without being too pushy with other families from the school, for a family with kids in the school and a local business.
My suggestions for donations this year is environemental and useful to people than the traditional gift wrap and magazine drives. You could sell seeds to plant flowers, fruits and vegetables and seedlings of trees. You could sell CFL's or programable thermostats to rain barrels. I am currently working on a project that needs a home, a give back to the community, particularly schools by a recycle program where each school collects aluminum and it gets picked up and delivered to Wise recycling and the monies collected go back to the schools for supplies for teachers and students in need.
There could be a also a "Goodwill" function where your items that aren't in use could be someone else's treasure. The monies collected go back into the school.
Bottom line thinking new for the future and the concept of Reduce; Reuse and Recycle.
Any thoughts?
Heather Paladino
Remember, you are not allowed to have businesses advertise in your newsletter if you mail it out through the post office. But, you are allowed to thank people for sponsoring events and every PTA should be doing that in their newsletter. Then I would drop off a copy to the store manager.


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