“I want to do lots of activities throughout the year, but my PTA/PTO has no money or very little. Certainly not enough to provide incentives for the students to thrive in ANY extra-curricular activities.”
This is the sob story of almost every school in the country. And for good reason. With budget cuts and state tax measures, the schools are getting less and less money. And families are able to afford less and less for those wrapping paper and cookie dough fundraisers.
The bottom line is that the bottom line has hit rock bottom. But there is a solution.
Enter our hero – The Local Business
Local businesses love to promote themselves to schools. Look at it from their perspective. With just a small donation of services, products or gift certificates (some they wouldn’t even use anyway), they can reach 100s of students and parents. It’s great publicity for the business and it promotes goodwill.
With a little bit of footwork on your part (or your sponsor committee head), the proper form, and a little due diligence, you can get almost anything.
Here’s the step by step process to getting sponsors.
- Have a specific event or project to present to the business for them to sponsor. Since bullying is so prevalent in the media, usually anything on bullying is a pretty easy sell. But make sure you’re very specific with the event/project.
- Create a Donation Request Letter for perspective businesses. One can be found at the Bully Tools for Schools website. Here’s the link: CLICK HERE . Use it as an example and create your very own letter.
- Research local businesses near your school. And don’t be afraid to think big. You’re much more likely to get the local Vons or Albertsons, or even Big Sports Team to sponsor you than the local Mom and Pop shoe shop.
I’ve seen Dodgers and Angels baseball tickets, zoo tickets, free Chick Filet and Burger King certificates, bubbles, flashlights, glowing key chains and just about every other type of prize you can think of. Don’t be shy. The more you ask for the more you’ll get.
Make a quick phone call to find out THE NAME OF THE PERSON IN CHARGE OF DONATIONS TO SCHOOLS. Make a list of those.
Here’s the part where you need to do a little leg work. You can mail the letters to the businesses. But the truth is that you’ll get very little response. You’ll be much more successful if you get on the phone, make sure the contact is there, and personally visit the business. If it’s a super large company (Baseball team etc), then an appointment may be necessary. If it’s smaller (Vons, Albertsons, local mom and pop), then walking in is best.
Walk in, ask for the contact, and make your pitch.
If they say yes, then negotiate the donation right there on the spot. If they say no or maybe, say thank you very much, give them the letter and leave.
**** Follow up with a phone call – This is of the utmost importance. If they say no or maybe, chances are they put your letter away, never to be found or looked at again. A quick phone call will refresh the idea in their mind and give you another opportunity for negotiation. If they still say no, then let it go. If they still say maybe, make another follow-up call. Keep calling those maybes until they turn into yeses.
Final few notes:
First note: Some companies will simply help because they want the goodwill, the tax write-off and they think it’s the right thing to do. Some will want something in return. During the negotiation, if they ask for something in return, be prepared to offer them advertising at your school. Whether it’s on the back of the gift certificate, an announcement at your assembly, or something printed in a program or on a T-Shirt or such. Be prepared with an offer. This will help a lot!
Second note: Most local organizations have a limit to what they can give, so don’t go back to the same organization too often. It can be better to have 10 donors contributing small amounts than one footing the whole bill, in case the one organization is unexpectedly unable to help next time.
Third and last note: Remember, some of the parents of the students at your school own small businesses. Most would be happy to support your projects. Make sure to put out a request in your school newsletter or as an email to all parents in the school.
I appreciate your comments.
Dedicated to reducing bullying at your school!
John Abrams – www.AmazingSchoolAssemblies.com
Southern California’s Top Elementary School Assembly Performer