Our elementary school is a Title 1 school and we really need to reach out to our community for funding. I have no problem cold calling and sending letters but I would like to have any tips for making this successful.
We are in a similiar situation, and its still a learning process for us. There are many small businesses, ie accountants, hair salons, tax preparers as well as skilled laborers who often get overlooked when looking for donations. Ask the local small business for a free or a discounted service (oil change, dental whitening, etc) if they would prefer that over a cash donation. Its the larger stores who seem to be first on the list, but its the school community that supports the locals. If you are not tax exempt, or are a 501c4 make sure you tell them that upfront as they will not be able to take that tax deduction. In lieu of that, consider having window clings printed with your school PTA logo saying something like, "We are Proud Supporters of (School Name)'s PTA that you could offer for their support. You can also ask if their business participates in Volunteer service, and that your PTA has many events that could use their employees hour or so of donated time.
Large items to auction and fancy treats look great in a basket, but the more involved you can make the community with the local schools, the nicer the neighborhood!
Think about what it is you want or need for your school. Then think about your local businesses and figure out which ones would be the best match to help you with what you need. Make sure you take a donation letter that includes your tax exempt number in it with you when you go. Promise to put their business link on your school or PTA website or put them in your newsletters, give them a booth at your school carnival, etc. Personal contacts will be better than sending letters out cold. Good luck!
Businesses may be mentioned in your newsletters or website if listed as a "Thank You for Your Donation" message, and not seen as endorsements (which are prohibited). You should also make sure you are up to date on your Charitable Solicitations registration and PTA Incorporation. Your UBI number should be on your donation requests, but as for giving out your Fed.Tax #, that would be wiser to include in the Thank You letter, or on a receipt.
Here is a link for a great letter- http://www.suite101.com/blog/ekennen/donation_thank_you_letters
I have several ideas I would like to submit in response to your question. My husband and I both have businesses. He owns a tile, marble and wood flooring installation business and I am an Independent Associate with Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. and also have extensive experience as a speaker (on a NO FEE BASIS) educating on the subject of Identity Theft. I am always looking for opportunities to have a table or booth at Business Expo's, Job Fairs, Health and Safety Fairs, School or Church Carnivals / Fairs, etc. I have paid anywhere between $50. to upwards of $600. depending on the venue and how much "traffic" the event generates. Sometimes all they require is that I donate an item for their raffle or drawing. When this is the case, we generally donate a 6 to 8 page, cross-cut shredder worth approx. $50. (we buy several of them when they are on sale and always have them on hand). The "shredder" corresponds with our educational message on Identity Theft as well as the services our company provides which protect individuals/families/children, legally and against Identity Theft.
We also have extensive experience speaking to clubs, groups, associations, schools, churches, etc. on the subject of Identity Theft as I mentioned before. We do this on a "no fee basis", however, sometimes groups hold a "Health and Safety Fair" and in addition to tables or booths, they allow some of us to speak briefly to the group for a nominal donation or "Sponsorship Fee". I personally prefer the personal contact of such events as oppossed to "advertising" in a directory.
If anyone would like to review our company and/or services to see if this would be a "good fit" to include in one of your events, etc, I would be more than happy to provide a website with a brief overview. Good Luck in your continued efforts to form partnerships with local businesses!
Remember that any time you can get a local business's name in front of your families, you have a lot to offer and they will really value the opportunity.
Decide how you want to do that - perhaps in the back of a school directory, on your web site, etc. If you happen to have an event coming up where you will give out T Shirts, offer sponsorships where their names are printed on the back of the T Shirt. Every time a child wears the shirt, the business benefits - could be for years! So you can charge quite a bit.
Once you have decided how you can give them publicity as your sponsors, list local businesses who you think might be interested. Then make contact by first sending a letter, then following up by phone or by stopping by with your cute kids :-)
Also publicize to all the families within your school, where you may not be aware that they own businesses that would be interested.
If you Google "sample donation solicitation letter" you will find many nice examples of letters you can use as a starting point. Create a letter that you can send to all the businesses on your list. If they donate, follow up with a thank you letter including your tax id.
You may want to contact your local Chamber of Commerce or Retail Merchants Association. There isn't a single Small Business owner or wouldn't want to help out in some way. Many business owners, however, or cash strapped so the Chamber and other Civic Organizations can help spread the word to the business community.