What Companies Want: Secrets to Securing In-Kind Donations for Fundraising Events w/ Renee Zau
Want to know how to stay on the "good" list? Struggling to pick the questions you should answer when asking for a donation?
In this 1 hour special workshop hosted by Instrumentl, you’ll be able to know what sways company decision-makers when reviewing donation requests.
By the end of this one-hour workshop with Renee Zau, you’ll learn:
- What sways company decision-makers when reviewing donation requests
- What questions you should answer when asking for a donation
- How to stay on the "good' list
- How Instrumentl can help you better research funders and organize your prospects
Create your Instrumentl account using the link above. Save $50 off your first month should you decide to upgrade when your trial expires with the code DONATIONMATCH50.
Renee Zau is the CEO & Co-Founder of DonationMatch. It was created as a result of Renee's direct experience as both a silent auction chair and marketer. Being a multi-unit franchisee, managing a regional marketing co-op, mentoring 100 business owners, and volunteering with over 50 charity events enlightened her to the synergy and challenges faced by both donor companies and nonprofit event leaders regarding in-kind donations. Knowing there had to be a better, more efficient way to make win-win, in-kind marketing opportunities available to companies while simplifying access to donations for schools and nonprofits, she partnered with Darryl to build DonationMatch.
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Click the video link below to start watching the replay of this free grant workshop, or check out the transcriptions below the video.
Instrumentl Partner Workshop Replay
Instrumentl Partner Workshop Slides
What Companies Want: Secrets to Securing In-Kind Donations for Fundraising Events - Grant Training Transcription
Will: Hello, everyone and welcome to What Companies Want: Secrets to Securing In-Kind Donations for Fundraising Events with Renee Zau. This workshop is being recorded and slides will be shared afterwards so keep your eyes peeled in the case where you need to review anything from today's workshop.
In case it is your first time here, this free grant workshop is an Instrumentl partner workshop. These are collaborations between Instrumentl and community partners to provide free educational opportunities for nonprofit professionals. Our goal is to tackle some sort of problem that you folks often have to solve for also sharing about different ways that Instrumentl's platform can potentially help you and your grant writers win more grants along with your nonprofits.
Instrumentl is the institutional fundraising platform. If you want to bring grant prospecting, tracking, and management into one place, we can help you do that. And you can set up your own personalized recommendations using the link on the screen here. I also put that into the Zoom chat. Now with that housekeeping out of the way, I'm very excited to introduce Renee Zau.
She's the CEO and co-founder of DonationMatch. It was created as a result of her direct experience as both a silent auction chair and marketer, and being a multi-unit franchisee managing a regional marketing co-op, mentoring a hundred business owners and volunteering with over 50 charity events which enlightened her to the synergy and challenges that are often faced by both donor companies and nonprofit event leaders regarding in-kind donations.
So knowing there had to be a better way, she went about creating that and creating a win-win in-kind marketing opportunity through DonationMatch. And so, she teamed up with her co-founder Darryl with that. And so with that, Renee, feel free to take it away from here.
Renee: All right, thank you very much, Will. Hello, everyone.
I think Will provided a lot of some of my introductory slide information. So let me go ahead and just kind of pop on through some of those. So as he said, DonationMatch was created to streamline these win-win partnerships between generous companies and your nonprofit events. These are some of the companies that we currently work with and since 2010, when we were founded, we've facilitated over $100 million worth of products and services alone and those are in-kind donations that we're gonna be talking about today.
As Will mentioned, I have been on both the business side, on the donor side, as well as the nonprofit side of this in-kind donation process through some of my franchise experience just as much as auctioning silent auctions. So as he mentioned, I have been on many event committees, chaired many auctions myself, and had lots of conversations with donor companies here at DonationMatch. Some that use us, some that don't, but still lots of good information, and have raised over $1 million for the organizations I've worked with. And obviously, I know what it's like to spend the average 300 hours on securing and preparing in-kind donations for events, for fundraising events.
And obviously, I thought it should and could be easier when we created DonationMatch. And what we're gonna be talking about today is a lot of what I've learned through those 500-plus conversations with donors. And so, what we're gonna be going through are really four main points. One is basically what companies want to be understood.
They want the process to be easy. They have expectations when they're coming in and they obviously want those to be met. And most importantly, they wanna feel appreciated. Feeling appreciated to a company whose decisions are typically made from the marketing department means publicly appreciated as well.
So let's go ahead and get started. Oh, I forgot to mention that if you do have specific questions about what we're talking about, you can feel free to put those in the chat. I won't necessarily be able to monitor that as well as Will, but if there is something very relevant to what we're speaking to, I have given him permission to interject. So feel free to ask.
So when we say companies want to be understood, what exactly does that mean? Really, in general, it means that they want their position and what restrictions the decision maker is obligated to respect, understood. And so, some of these are that decisions may be made based on factors that are not really related to your fault. And those could be things like business factors. Obviously, COVID put a lot of restrictions on some companies that had to be shut down for an entire year or more. Seasonality is also a bit to the effect where some companies are very seasonal.
They have seasonal years or periods where they're not open the entire year. Amusement parks are like that. And during their downtime, they may not actually be prepared to donate depending on their operational process. So that could be a factor as well. Internal policies, of course, companies do have priorities.
Sometimes they feel a lot of times like there is more demand than they have the capacity to give, which is actually part of the next point. So sometimes they just need to rotate those priorities from year to year. And then focus whether they donate, how they donate, really even down to the exact packages they donate can change based on internal business factors, their focuses, their goals, even things that are happening that the public is not privy to perhaps an acquisition or things like that.
So they may donate more. If they need more publicity, they may pull back a bit if they know something is going on internally. But these are things that obviously you and I are not able to affect. And so, it's not always you. But sometimes there are things that you might be able to affect or what you're doing, the event you're holding, can affect the decisions that they make.
And those things are things like causes, again, they may rotate or need to prioritize certain types of causes in different years. So maybe it is your cause that doesn't necessarily fall into what they're looking for in a specific timeframe. The event type and location. A lot of smaller businesses or businesses that may be limited need to really focus on who they really serve more.
So it could be that their geographic boundaries for where they donate can fluctuate. And one year you may fall into what's qualified and another year you don't. Audience fit and reach as well. You can hold different events and sometimes family-friendly events may be what they're looking for. Other times, it's the 21 and up. It really kind of depends again on their focuses.
Timing again, seasonality, and then past experience. And this is something really that the rest of our presentation speaks to is their experience with your organization. You know it's not that they necessarily take notes, but they do remember in a way. They may be taking notes on their experiences with your particular organization in past years.
And those can affect, of course ,their decisions to donate or work with you in future years. But I think what is very important to remember is that a lot of these decisions are actually made again by the marketing departments. So when companies want to be understood, it's actually that it may not necessarily be the marketing department.
It could be a business owner, but a lot of times it is done through a marketing lens and that's where they want you to understand that they love donating, but they need to actually have a compelling reason to and the reasons could be business or charity-related. A lot of the challenges that you as a nonprofit might be able to alleviate for them are that they get a lot of requests.
Sometimes they get very backed up. So patience would be wonderful. They get a lot of emails. Handling requests can be time consuming for them. That's a bit of why DonationMatch exists so that by taking away some of the very time-consuming tasks like vetting your organizations and collecting all the information they want to make their decisions, we actually help them be able to make decisions faster, which is hopefully beneficial to you.
Obviously, they feel overwhelmed by all this. And then a lot of times they actually don't know if what they're doing, the donations they're giving you, are actually effective. And we'll be talking about this a little bit later. So, in general, it can be very difficult especially for very popular companies and the lack of perceived ROI.
Just gives them a little bit of uncertainty about why they keep doing it if it's hard, but of course the reasons why they keep doing it are that they love giving to the right organizations as in the ones that meet whatever priorities, their focuses that they have at that moment. They love the community presence, staying in tune.
They like the publicity, getting their name out there, the visibility. I think, these, you might recognize as being very marketing-oriented again, but just being known as a company, that's very generous, that cares, that supports the community is really what they want. And when you understand that, that can speak to the types of things you do when you are asking for their donations.
So what you can do is you can research whether they qualify. Obviously, a lot of times it's visiting their websites, looking for a community page or a gift giving back type of a paragraph, maybe it's on their contact us pages. But basically make sure you actually qualify because I must say, they do get quite annoyed when you obviously do not and try anyway. That you follow directions. That means if they have a very specific process, sometimes it's DonationMatch, other times it may be that they have very specific forms, email addresses, types of information they ask for. Read that very carefully.
It's very much like a grant. You're gonna need to make sure you include the exact information they're asking for and maybe not too much else so that it makes it very easy for them to scan. And what you can also do of course is even before you ask for their specific donation, prove through what you're doing for other donations that you've already received, that you can deliver that community visibility and presence and appreciation, public appreciation, and make it very obvious.
So I would say starting from the very first donation you receive, put something out, thank them on social media, thank them on your website if you have the ability to do that. Start listing the companies that are donating to you so they can see that growing. The more you have, the more you're already doing for others, the more they will know because you're approving it through actions, not by saying it that you will likely do it for them.
Now again, what you can also do is be understanding if they do have to decline your request, because it may not be you, maybe it is, but oftentimes we hear that companies may have specific partners that they donate to year over year. But for others, they actually like to diversify and spread the wealth, I guess you could say.
And so, if they say no to you one year, it doesn't mean they're gonna do that the next year, keep trying. And of course you can engage with companies you're around whether or not they say yes to you. Again, a no is often a no for now, not a no forever. So don't let that deter you.
Move on, work on others, but keep them within your circle. Obviously show value to those who say yes and think win-win. So when you're making your request, think about what you can bring to them just as much as what they're bringing to you. So help them justify what they're donating to you and what they'll get out of it as well business wise.
Now knowing really what their frustrations are and what they are helping for, let's talk about what companies would consider an easy process. So easy to them typically means, again, that instructions are followed, that you don't divert from the process that they are used to because the process in the system that they've created for themselves typically make it easiest for them to go through and make donations faster.
If you can put all your information in one place that would be better as well so they don't have to constantly click through links. They don't have to open up PDFs, things like that. One page, one application is easiest. Again, they do wanna see other donors and sponsors being recognized.
That makes it an easy, I guess you could say, trust factor that you're not just saying you're going to thank others or thank donors. You're actually already doing it. Of course, be responsive to questions. A lot of these you might notice are actually fairly parallel to grants and grant applications.
Oops. I'm sorry. Let me go back to that. And, oh, this is an interesting one. Duplicate requests. So you wouldn't necessarily expect this to be a problem, but when companies start using DonationMatch, that's actually one of the features they are most excited about is that our system will try to prevent duplicate requests from the same organization and event and apparently, it is an issue.
So please communicate with your team, your committee, and make sure that this doesn't happen with companies that are not using DonationMatch. It really confuses them and it creates more work for them. And obviously, if it's a physical item that can be donated, if it's at all possible, offer to pick it up for them. That can not only save them the cost of having to ship something, but also time in trying to figure out how to deliver it.
If you say you can just come and get it, have a committee member stop by, all they have to do is get it ready. And that is very easy. So in general to make it easy, creates less work for them, it really aligns you with their train of thought and their needs and makes them feel better about the fact that you actually recognize their challenges as well.
So in making it easy, too, these are questions that I would make sure that you answer in your request. Obviously logistics, what type of event, how donations could be used, who, what, where when, but especially, too, how you're going to be using the funds that you raise. A lot of requests, I think, forget that part.
You want donations, you're talking all about the exciting event, but what exactly is the impact that you can make? If they donate something worth $100, what could that possibly do? That helps them translate what they're actually giving you into an actual impact. And that's very helpful. You've probably heard that that's helpful in securing monetary donations when you equate every hundred dollars donated can buy us this or put someone through this program. You wanna do the same thing for in-kind donations as well. And then again, we've got all the logistics here, but also promotion channels, how you're going to be thanking them.
Do you have media partners? Do you have really unique channels that they are not able to access that will make you stand apart from other organizations and other opportunities as well. And really, if this is not your first time holding this same event, then really promoting past year success and showing them by keeping the websites and the ways you promoted sponsors and donors from past years, leaving those on your website, linking to them in your applications, showing them, again, showing not just saying you're going to do it, but the action of actually having done it will make them more trusting of you and believe that you're prepared to do this again for them.
And I must say the last one. Contact information is very important and I really mean all of that. You need the name, email, phone number, website, social media links, every possible way for them to be able to contact you because honestly, I have, as an auction chair, I've had companies prefer to call me rather than email me to let me know just because there may be logistics regarding pickup, questions, things like that.
You want to make sure that they have every possible way of reaching them if at all possible. And this isn't just in a request letter or in a request form, but I also mean on your website. A lot of organizations I've noticed on their event pages now have ways to donate to the auction or ways to sponsor and with contact information.
That's a great thing to do because you never know who's gonna come across your event website and say, "Hey, I see so and so's company on there. I want to donate from my own company, too. How do I do that?" And again, whatever contact information you're willing to put on there will just make that a lot easier.
Okay. Going back to them, making the decision easy, this, I really want to emphasize. What you are actually trying to do is showing how past donors, past sponsors are being promoted, how exciting the event is, what you're really trying to create overall, it's not just an easy process here.
This is actually really an easy decision creating that fear of missing out. Now, I have an example here of an event that has secured some donations through a donation match in 2019. When we came across the website during one of our events expert consultations, we were really impressed by it because they did a really good job of not only putting the right information, complete information on their website, but they actually even added more that we could tell, as we were looking at the event we wanted to attend and that's because they had all sorts of -- participate. This was a food, basically a foodie event. And so, they had listed their vendors that were going to be there. They had photos of past events. All these screenshots you see. That's not from the 2019 event, but actually the one before it, but they could show and they had that slideshow you see, although you can't click through it. They had a slide show of all different things, like the auction tables that you see here. But they had screenshots of the people and the food and the drinks and people having fun and large shots where you see basically the whole crowd.
You really want to make sure it looks like an event that a company just would be silly not to be a part of. Honestly, it's such a big deal. And so, what can you do to make your event exciting like that? And I'm curious. This is a question for the chat. What have you done at your events to make companies really want to be there?
Is it...to think of some more. Is it that you had a local celebrity or maybe not so local celebrity attending and that's something that drew a lot of people, excuse me, attendees, but also donors and sponsors? What kinds of things can you do or have you done? There you go.
Thanks. Will. So have you done to attract donors and sponsors? Good, I'm gonna move on from here. Feel free if you wanna answer that question to do that in a chat because I would be very interested in seeing the answers as well. But basically, the idea here is you want to make it an event that not only someone will want to donate to, but someone will want to attend, really.
You want someone to wanna participate in every possible way and get so excited, so, oh, wow. That is awesome. So it looks like Candy mentioned that they had an event for the past two years and Prince's guitarist and his daughter. Wow. So the acts and the names. Definitely. Exactly. Yeah. And it doesn't have to be Prince or anyone related to Prince, but I can see how that would be very, very exciting.
Yes. Okay, awesome. All right, I'm gonna keep going, but please, if you have more, please add them because I can look at that later. All right. Third point is what companies are expecting. So there you go. Now in talking to donor companies, what hurts them the most and honestly, I hate to say this, but what actually causes some companies to close that door on donations altogether is too many disappointments. And it's not necessarily you, it could be others that are doing this, but it kind of sours the experience for businesses and companies when this happens too much. And things like when they donate, but they could be attending your event. Their friends could be attending your event.
You don't know who is necessarily related to them. And they realized that their display or their item was not used the way that you said it would or that they actually requested that it be. Another is that they don't know what differences their donations made. A lot of companies do donate quite a bit.
They could be sending tens or hundreds or even thousands of donations a year. If they don't hear anything back about what a difference they made because of it, they're not sure they did, honestly. They could be looking at their sales numbers, their marketing, their traffic on their website, but that's not necessarily the only thing they want.
And it's helpful for them to feel like they actually made a difference in their communities as well. Now of course, that social promotion, our mentions are also very important. So it's a combination usually of wanting to support their communities just as much as needing the visibility to continue donating because it's actually making a difference to the bottom line as well.
That type of extra boost to business is oftentimes what supports the donations themselves. And then, when their donations go out and they're not even used, we recognize, I'm not sure if you've ever heard this statistic. And I do try to set expectations as well with this, that about 50% of gift certificates that are purchased directly through retail stores are not used.
And so interestingly, when you compare something that is actually paid, then, paid for and not used, something that is donated and not used may not necessarily hurt as much, but it's still, the donated certificates, I guess, tend to be used even less. And so, companies don't donate certificates because they don't want them to be used.
They often do it because they want people who are interested to get them to win them and then come in and patronize their business with them. Oftentimes it just gives them a way to create a good customer experience. And so, I would say, a way I, really quickly, saw a way to track certificates could be or really not necessarily track.
I would say more complex certificates to be used are that, now this is anecdotal. I don't have actual statistics on it, but as event chair, I actually believe in fundraising. I believe that certificates that are auctioned off where someone felt like they paid for it in some way are more likely to be redeemed than ones that are won through a raffle, for example.
So you might keep that in mind and physical items may be great for use in a raffle, but you want to create value. You want to promote the packages and donated certificates in a way that you are uplifting the value of the business, the experience that they might be getting. So, it could be in the way that you are describing the package in your auction displays.
If you can pull information, maybe some good Yelp reviews to help do that, that's wonderful. Oftentimes of course the company's own website is good for verbiage. In DonationMatch, you're actually able to take exact wording that companies provide for their certificates and copy and paste that onto your -- or even download, export to import into your auction systems for that reason.
But really it's a matter of selling. Selling or promoting the package in a way that someone will feel like they're losing out on something by not actually using it. So I know that it's really pretty limited on what you can do to compel the winner to actually use it. But it's really about setting it up as something valuable.
So, all right. And so, again, to me, expectations to not give them that kind of heartbreak, what you can do, again, is build trust. And building trust I know sounds very general. Building trust means, in my opinion, showing them what you can do, showing them what you've done with past donors, showing them that there's proof.
If you have proof, proof statistics, data about the effectiveness of your organization, that you have a history of good relations with your donors and sponsors, things like that. Even if you have repeat donors and sponsors calling those out as well. Not just thanking them for donating or sponsoring in a given year, but wow, this is a 10-time donor, thank you so much for continuing to support our organization.
Seeing those kinds of keys, little triggers, I guess you could say, positive triggers can help someone recognize you as someone who will meet expectations. Again, of course, follow up, following donor preferences. Even as you're making the ask, will again, set them up for expecting, trusting that you will follow their preferences, even when they donate to you.
Again, being able to thank them and really show them the impact of their donations, reinforce that what they're doing is a good thing. Whether it's to you, whether it's to nonprofits as a whole, that it's just a good thing in general. Dedicating, and in terms of the visibility and promotion, I would dedicate someone. It doesn't have to be someone that is a professional social media manager, just someone who is very active in social media, perhaps, to say, "Hey, every time we get a donation forward this to them for the information, the company, businesses, social media handles."
If you happen to have them make sure that they are thanked publicly. And then, really, in terms of expectations met as well, they don't -- a lot of companies don't want to feel like you're contacting them just once to get something from them and then walk away and then only come back when you want something else.
This really means try to engage with the company. And I know, I recognized you when you have hundreds of companies in your donor list, you can't necessarily do this with all of them, but really perhaps pick out the ones that you have a better or you want a closer relationship with. Try to keep in touch with them year round.
It doesn't hurt to ask if they wanna be included in your newsletter. That will actually keep your expectation kind of top of mind, whenever anything is happening. Who knows if a business might wanna do a donation drive for you? Some like restaurants like to do or retail stores like to give back events, participate in those as well.
A lot of people know about Chipotle, Panda Express, a lot of the big ones that do that, but local businesses perhaps can, too. It doesn't hurt to ask. Also there are many ways that companies can engage with you aside from simply in-kind donations that can benefit them. And so you might ask them about employee team building as well as volunteering.
If you can think of ways to engage others in your community, not just when you're asking for donations, that's the next step in building a relationship with them rather than being simply transactional. It can be a lot more rewarding for them to start building a constant relationship with you. And again, I recognize you can't do that with everybody, but maybe the ones that your group or your board or whoever is most involved with you frequents a lot.
You feel like maybe they have a little more clout or a little more ability to donate or you just like the way they run their businesses. So. Okay. Lastly, companies want to be appreciated. And for this section, I actually have a lot of examples to show you. These are real social media mentions. This page specifically, I wanted to call out because these are posts that were made before events happened.
And I really liked how they incorporated the upcoming event and promoted the upcoming event at the same time that they were promoting the donor that gave them something for it. So Peoria Humane Society each day this week, they're gonna be featuring. That is a great way to keep not only your potential attendees engaged because they know there's gonna be a new prize from it every week. And they're gonna get really excited about bidding on these things. But the companies themselves get super excited about being promoted as well and they can see it ahead of time. And other companies similar to them, perhaps, will see it as well.
And that gives you the chance to still collect more donations before the event from other companies, too. That and the Rescue Dogs Rock in New York City, we like the fact that they talk about how they're almost sold out and this is their chance to really promote people buying tickets sooner.
And I've heard from a lot of nonprofits it's pretty much across the board. How do we sell more tickets to the event? And this can contribute to the success of that. Create more pre-event excitement. Again, more examples here of just ways you don't -- there are lots of ways of thinking and appreciating companies online.
Some you'll see, some will put your logo, their logo all in the same post. Some are promoting these before events. A lot of these are actually the ones on this page and Ford is promoting the donors after the event, which is still great and honestly, you can do this any time after the event. You're not restricted to the week after, the month after, whatever it is the day after. If you're gearing up for the same event the next year, you could probably reuse one of these and say, "Hey, this is coming up again. Thank you to last year's donor" and cross your fingers that this kind of tips them off to expect your request and possibly donate again.
Actually, I think one or two more pages of this and I do want to emphasize, too, that you can tell just because they are a different color, that a lot of these posts actually tag the companies. And that's what you want to do because whoever's managing their social media account gets notified of mentions like this.
And so, rather than just typing it out, "thank you to Six Flags Magic Mountain," you're going to want to actually go make sure you have the right account for them. They're going to like it if you like their account as well. And then when you actually write the post, make sure you tag them because it also dives a little bit more into social media technology, but it also means that their followers that aren't necessarily yours have a higher chance of seeing your post as well. So that's never a bad thing to give your own organization a little more publicity.
And then okay. Yeah, this is the other one. Oh, and then on this page two, you might see that there are hashtags. And hashtags, if companies use them on DonationMatch when we give you a social media cheat sheet, we also forward the hashtags that they use on a regular basis that's provided to us by the companies.
But when you use them, it gives them an easier way to find you in their hashtag searches. And so, sometimes they're not able to look at each individual notification when you tag them. But if Pacific Park, for example, is going to search for their Pacific Park hashtag, which they can do for reporting reasons, then it's going to be great when they see your organization in there maybe even more than once because it then, again, creates that kind of -- keeps you at top of mind again. So, all right.
I'm gonna go through a little faster. Oh, and actually just one more example, this SAMOHI Baseball, they found a way to thank a lot of their donors all at the same time because they had a specific raffle that they were doing.
And so, they actually just added everybody at least in the raffle to one post, which isn't a bad idea either. If you run out of time, you don't have time to do separate posts for everybody, at least do this because it's great that they all got nice shoutouts and they can see who actually won their packages, which is very nice.
All right. So again, these kinds of shows of public appreciation are what we call marketer's love language. So this is back to meeting their expectations. Sometimes they'll actually request to be promoted a certain way. So of course adhering to their preferences and guidelines, social media follows, mentions tags, not just by you, not just by your organization's account, but you know, if you can ask your board to do that, if you can ask your staff to do it, there's a certain amount you can do only because staff may have their personal accounts and you don't necessarily want to have to dictate what they do with those.
But if they feel like it, you might ask if they want to do it, they can. Really getting companies to recognize a boost from their supportive view is helpful. And even better if they can actually tie it to your organization. And, of course, feeling like you're not just approaching them for their one time in-kind donation or multiple times. Sometimes if you're holding multiple events a year, you wanna make sure that they feel like you actually want to engage with them.
You want them to participate in your organization, not just because you want something from them. And not only through things that they see, but sometimes if you have unique opportunities that you bring to them, if you think about them when you are creating a certain program and recognize that they'd be a really good sponsor, they're a really good fit, very aligned with what this specific program is trying to do, maybe they'll sponsor this piece of it or provide this product that we're planning on using during it. Things like that, that they know are not being offered to everybody else. So email blasts are great, but if you can do one on ones with certain companies as well, they will notice.
And really all of this public appreciation really is going to set up your organization for future success because it's not only, hopefully you're not thinking about just the success of your one event, but future events and fundraising in general. There's a cascade that happens when you really start moving forward with that, what they call the attitude of gratitude, applying that to what you're doing with donor companies as well.
So the takeaways that I would like to impart to you through this workshop are obviously what companies want the most, which again, are to be understood, to have an easy process, to have their expectations met, and be publicly appreciated, but really, takeaways are what you can do in terms of before your event.
Following directions when making requests, respecting their process, time, and their criteria. But when you're asking, providing exactly what they need to make a decision very quickly and easily. Whatever you can do to help them spend the least amount of time to say yes to you, which again can be showing them what you've done.
Not just saying you're gonna do it, building that trust so that they already know they trust you. They see the proof and this is what you need and make it really easy. And then, of course, afterwards, publicly thanking them, other opportunities, not just when you want something.
And bonus. This is my bonus segment. How do you know it's working? So of course these should be things that you are doing on a regular basis with your events, but really, if you haven't, maybe you can start now. Is that measuring the ROI of your efforts? If you have a list of 300 companies, how many are saying yes? And of course, some close, some change, you're gonna be adding new ones, but what you wanna do is see if you are getting a more positive response from the number of requests that you're sending out.
You can also do it of course, by the net dollars you raise, you want quality, not just quantity, of course in your efforts. And then, also tracking the total time spent. I mentioned that 300-plus hours is actually the national average. I think I forgot to mention that. That's the national average for -- I can't remember where I found that, but I know I've talked to other live auctioneers who've actually said it's probably higher, closer to 500, but that's the average amount of time spent preparing a silent auction. Just the silent auction portion of a gala or a festival or whatever it is you're doing. So that's securing, preparing the packages, the descriptions, the software, everything related to that.
And so, if you can reduce your time because you are providing this information and making a request so efficiently that you don't need to spend as much time, you're getting better results, more yeses, and you're raising more money, then I'd say it's working. And I think what we've talked about today will move the needle towards that point.
And here's how to follow up with me. Hopefully Will will help me with answering some of the questions that came up during the chat.
Will: Yeah, we have a ton of questions to get through.
Will: Yeah. So I want to make sure we leave some time for that. Before we do so, Renee, I'll quickly go over for folks that may not be as familiar with us as well. Do you want to share some DonationMatch information at the end with the raffle? Is that a good plan?
Renee: Oh, sure. Hold on. Okay.
Will: Awesome. So yeah, I can actually, I can take over here, but essentially, let me go ahead and share my screen. In the case where you are looking for new grants in combination with your in-kind donation efforts as well, feel free to create a free account on Instrumentl with Renee's link. It's a 14-day free trial. There's no card required and when you do so, what you can do is you can create a personalized grant search for your nonprofit. So in this particular example, I've created a grant search for the Stem Education Project.
And what I'm able to do on Instrumentl is I'm able to sift through a variety of active grant opportunities that my nonprofit can start to pursue. So in the case where you are looking for ways to diversify your funding as well, Instrumentl can be a helpful way to bring your grant prospecting, tracking, and management into one place.
And what's really nice about this versus some of the other tools is that essentially when we show you these personalized matches on the right hand side, you're gonna have detailed information about the funder as well. So similar to the ways that DonationMatch helps in terms of securing you those more likely in-kind donations, Instrumentl is great at securing those funders or foundations that are good matches for your organization as well or helping you assess for you specifically, what is a good match funder and things like that.
So if you've never checked us out, feel free to use that link. It's Renee's link in the chat below and that'll help you in just finding some other opportunities. The other nice thing is that we have a built-in tracker. So in the case where you are a grant writer today, finding yourself in the audience, you can bring all of your work into Instrumentl as well and track everything in the same place.
So if you want to track, manage, and prospect everything in the same place, that's what we can do for you as well. With that, I'm going to go ahead and talk about some questions that we had. So I'm gonna hop into here. We've got a ton of questions. And I also put in a raffle link in the chat.
We'll have a slide at the end for that, but in the case where this is your first time here, we regularly run these raffles for submitting your feedback for this workshop. You'll enter that raffle, which is going to include a I believe, a one-month subscription to DonationMatch.
So, definitely check that out as well. So first question we've got, we've got a ton to get through. Candy asked, our team tends to be wary of sending too many thank you posts on social media to donors since they feel it takes away from their mission. What cadence do you recommend to tell the story and also thank donors?
Renee: Oh, sure. So yeah, you definitely don't necessarily want this to take over your social media feed. But it is understood, I think, that if you are ramping up towards an event that they're gonna see a lot more event promotion. Maybe I'd say definitely once a week is fine. Perhaps twice a week.
And if you have to, as you saw in some of those examples, you can put a few donors in one post and that could reduce overtaking the entire feed itself. But still be sure to tag everybody if you can, rather than just posting about it and -- a nice way to see it, too, is kind of a weekly roundup of everything that came in the week before and that way, then it's kind of expected and a way for people to even say, "Hey, I'm looking forward to seeing what came in the last week for this event."
Will: Awesome. And then the next question we had was from Paulette, are companies who give through DonationMatch giving approval to use their logo on the nonprofit's website as a supporter?
Renee: Good question. You know, I would directly message the donor companies just to make sure because that is an individual decision on their part. I don't necessarily have a blanket answer for that. I would expect them to be okay with it, but not necessarily. So if you're not sure, I would ask the company directly and there is a way for you to directly message them once they say yes to you.
Will: Awesome. Taylor asked, how would you suggest creating more FOMO for an event if this is the first time you're running the event?
Renee: Ah, well, I would look for ways to show I guess, similar feelings of excitement of community support of, you know, different ways to build trust in your organization. And it's hard, I understand when you're a new organization and I've actually heard that some fundraising consultants don't recommend you hold an event in your first couple of years if you're that young because you're still establishing a donor base and your reputation for the work you're actually doing.
It's hard to get actual proof of concept like you might say by that time, but it could be by highlighting, perhaps highlighting people or organizations that others trust as being supporters of you. And pictures of staff maybe, or preparation, or things like that, maybe you can hold a pre-event and take pictures of that where it might be like a wine night or I don't know what kind of event you're holding. So that may or may not be appropriate, but hold a smaller event like a supporter event or some VIP event kind of thing, where you can get some pictures, perhaps.
So like a mini event that will get you some more of those assets for the larger event.
Will: Awesome. And then Yvonne asked, how is your strategy different for securing an in-kind donation for a project rather than an event?
Renee: Ah, so, hmm. I'm not sure it necessarily would be. I mean, obviously the audience may be different, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the promotion has to be.
If you're talking about something like, I'm gonna simplify this way too much, but if you're talking about perhaps workshops that you're doing, and you're just asking for somebody to underwrite or provide the notebooks that you're using for that. I would still lead with the reason why you need them, the impact that it will make, perhaps the cost savings, who will see or receive them, ways that you're gonna promote them on your website or maybe on the project portion of your website about how certain parts were sponsored or in-kind sponsored by others.
I actually don't see that as very different. It's just that the actual project itself would be maybe a program rather than an event.
Will: Sure. Crystal asked if you have any recommendations for donation auction software.
Renee: Oh, gosh. We have a lot of partners that do that. I guess the blanket way to do that is to ask you -- is to tell you to go to donationmatch.com and under resources, we have a nonprofit resources link, and those are if you go specifically to the auction software area, we have a lot of partners that we work with that and we actually have a -- let's see schoolauction.net is actually integrated with our system to a certain extent.
Yeah, they're one of our larger partners or most engaged partners. ZGIVE is another one. And actually if you join DonationMatch, you'll probably see emails from us as some of these partners have different promotions and other things going on.
Will: And I just popped that URL into the chat in the case where you wanna quickly access that.
Renee: Perfect. Awesome. Thanks.
Will: Sonny asked, aside from contacting the winner of auction items to remind them to redeem their winnings as far as certificates go, what else can we do to buffer the disappointments that companies might have? They've had a number of people not redeem their winnings before.
Renee: Oh, that's too bad. I mean things happen. I think it's a great thing that you are aware of that and that you are reminding people to use their certificates. I mean, if you're using auction software, you probably know exactly who and what and even sending kind of a blanket email once in a while is not a bad idea.
A lot of things will expire maybe in six months or a year. So you wanna send out reminders before that. Honestly, I guess other than that, I think I did answer a little bit by how you're actually giving or making the surveys available. Yeah. Oh, something I didn't mention though, was that bundling items in a package tends to sometimes result in someone winning something they didn't necessarily want as much.
So you might minimize the bundling of things so that, you know, if you have a spa package and you have a spa treatment certificate along with other products, you're not really sure what they actually wanted in that whole package when they win it. Right? But if you can separate those so that the gift certificate stands on its own versus some of the other things then I think you actually increase the chances of possibly earning more for that package, but also that whoever wins each specific item wants it specifically.
Will: And Renee, do you wanna go ahead and share your screen and show the raffle details so we can make sure we cover that and then I'll continue with some more Q&A?
Renee: Sure. Let's see.
Will: So folks, I just put that feedback form into the Zoom chat, but if you submit for that raffle, it's that last slide, Renee, we are going to draw a raffle winner on Friday. So all you need to do is complete the feedback form and with that Renee's including access to DonationMatch, including a 30-minute one-on-one event strategy call with her.
And so, definitely check out that feedback form as well. And so, that link is in the Zoom chat. Nick asked another question, which is, what if the -- so in regards to a donation certificate that isn't redeemed, what if the donation is not bid on in an auction? What do you do with those?
Renee: Ah, okay, so I would typically destroy the certificate, honestly. Although I wouldn't do it right off the bat, there are ways that you may be able to actually auction or raffle it off in like a second chance auction. So this does happen. I don't think I've ever had an event where 100% of the items were bid on.
It just happens. Sometimes it's a mismatch. Sometimes someone that you expect to want a package just didn't happen to be able to attend. So what I would do that actually is, I've seen this done successfully, I've actually purchased things this way, is that you can gather a list of all the items that were not awarded or won and do a second chance like mini event perhaps with them. It doesn't have to be through the same auction software, but if you have the ability to do that, I would just because it makes it a lot easier to manage. But I've seen like the better, I think it was the Better Business Bureau Foundation here in San Diego did this five years ago where they just sent out an email to everybody who -- and not necessarily even people who went to the event their entire email list and had them listed, had links to some informational pages about the products and said, if you're interested in bidding on these, this is going to be just a true silent auction email here with this specific information, you know, what's your bid. Basically by the end of the week, they're going to take all of the bids and figure out who wins and then contact you.
And I actually won a gift certificate to a Stone Brewing Company's restaurant that way. It was really fun. But I was not able to attend the event. And that was a nice second way to, a second chance way for me to still support them.
Will: And two last questions, Renee. Would following up with sponsors at the event to let them know how much you raised and the impact be welcomed by the sponsor, for example, just via email or phone call? I think it's pretty self-explanatory. That's probably yes, right?
Renee: Yeah, yeah. Yes, yes. If you have their contact information, do that. I think, actually, it would be good if you can, to get the email addresses of all of your donors together and ask them for permission to add them to your communication list as well, you know, to your newsletters, because again that, get their permission , but that would be a great way to keep them engaged with you to almost expect messages from you so it's not a surprise or when they receive requests from you, you'll feel familiar to them.
Will: And I'm gonna merge questions since they're very closely related. Candy and Mary Kay essentially asked the question of how do you engage donors to keep them updated without, and balance, not sharing too much.
Renee: Okay. I'm not sure what sharing too much means.
Will: Yeah. So Mary Kay shared how, for example, they work for a large organization and they have to be limited in how many posts they recognize owners on since there's so many. So like what's the -- how do you kind of balance people you want to thank, but at the same time sharing too much of those sorts of posts like you were.
Renee: Oh, oh, gotcha. Okay. Let's see. So how do you balance too many thank you's?
Will: Yeah, it's like too many updates or too many.
Renee: Oh, gotcha. Again, well, I think we spoke about social media maybe keeping it to once or twice a week and grouping them together. I would probably say maybe the same thing for if you're gonna do email, anything by email, you could, I'm a fan of efficiency and putting a lot of things in one place, although I'm sure there's an argument that there may be too much. But if you're gonna send an email out, add information about the event itself, and again, perhaps maybe a weekly cadence, I don't think weekly emails are too much, if you are leading up to an event.
So you could probably bundle all the new donations or donors that gave you something in the last week along with, and here's what to do, register, buy this, whatever else you want someone to do event-related and almost categorize it as, perhaps, position it as an event update so that people that are most interested in it know what to look for.
Renee: But yeah.
Will: Great. Well, thanks so much, everybody, for your questions. If you didn't get yours answered, please reach out to Renee and as a follow up, other than that, that concludes this Instrumentl grant writing workshop and feel free to look out for that replay and slides later today will be sent out. All right. Thanks, everybody. Take it easy. Bye now.
Renee: Okay. Thank you so much.