One of the suggestions on my list of different ways to fundraise was to put on a raffle. I’m known amongst friends as a pro in getting free things. It’s something I developed when I worked in the charity sector and had to source thousands of items donated for large-scale events. When I transferred those skills to looking for raffle prizes I found that I had a bit of a knack for it! Wondering how to get raffle prizes donated? Here are my top tips….

Have a goal or focus

Write down how many prizes you are aiming for and if you are looking for anything in particular. I usually aim to try to get a couple of bigger prizes and then a handful of smaller prizes to mix things up. The big prizes are your main draw but having lots of options increases someone’s chances of winning which is also attractive.

Write a killer letter

Companies get lots of people asking for donations. They are more likely to support you if they like you and your cause. Make the letter as personal as you can. If you have a story or connection to the charity then tell it. I try to keep it short as people are too busy to read huge amounts of text.

Also, make it clear in your subject line why you are approaching them but in an interesting way. Here’s how I might structure a letter:

Subject: Can you help build a classroom?

Dear {first name is you have it}

On {date} I am organising {put the details of the event you are putting together}. I’m doing this to raise money for {charity}.

I chose this charity because {insert your connection or motive for fundraising….remember to keep it personal}

{Charity name} works to support {animals/children/environment}. Each year they {put examples of what they achieve or specifics in terms of reach}. I’m hoping to raise {target amount} which will pay for {what is your money going towards},

I’m writing to ask if {company name} might be willing to donate a prize that we can raffle/auction at the event. We think this would be a great prize because {find a reason that it would be a great fit, such as it is a local supplier and most people attending the event are from the area}. Your generous donation will be supporting a great cause and you will be thanked on the night {and in any other way that might be of relevance – in a program, on the event website}.

Please find attached a letter of support from {charity name}.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

{include phone number}

Get a letter of support from the charity

Contact your chosen charity and ask them to send you something on letterhead that says they support what you are doing. It is good practice to include this as a PDF in any email you send out (make sure it includes the charity number). It looks professional and will reassure any doubts they may have about you being genuine.

Compile a list of your contacts

With the letter ready to go it is now ready to start putting a ‘raffle prize list’ together of all the people I am going to send it to. I usually set up an excel spreadsheet as this is a good way to keep track to make sure you don’t accidentally contact a place twice.

The best place to start is with personal connections. If your brother works in a bookstore it wouldn’t take much for him to ask the manager if they could donate a couple of books.

Start collecting a list of:

  • all the companies you have worked for or with previously
  • close friends and relatives and who they work for

Start listing companies

Next, you want to start adding companies to your spreadsheet. Start with local companies – local to you, local to your event and local to the charity. People like supporting their community.

Generally the smaller the company the easier it is to get a donation. So an individual running a massage business is more likely to support you than a large spa chain. It’s also really good to try to find new companies that are yet to of established a supporting charity.

To find companies I use google. I think of a type of company or industry, such as hairdressing, and then use google maps to search ‘Hairdressing Brighton’ if I was based in Brighton.

I then open up all the companies that come up into a separate tab. Find the contact us page and copy and paste the email address into the spreadsheet.

Once I’ve covered local companies I then start thinking of bigger prizes that might work for the event.

Then add celebrities

Finally, I add celebrities to the list. Again local is best – so anyone that grew up in the area who has now grown a name for themselves. They don’t just need to be huge celebrities, authors, TV presenters and sports stars are a good place to start. Use google to help you find these people.

Celebrities usually have a PR manager whose details will be on the contact page on their website. They are usually very generous with sending out autographs and signed goodies.

Producers rather than suppliers

Generally, it’s better to approach the producer of a product rather than a company who supplies different products.  For example, a specific shoe brand is more likely to donate a product over a shoe shop.

A great way to find these is to go into a shop and write down the specific brands that you see on the shelf.

Services rather than products

When people think raffle prizes they usually think of physical items. From my experience though services are usually much easier to get. So things like massages, cleaning services, coaching sessions, etc.

Think outside the box

The more unusual the company you are asking for prizes from, the more likely it will be a success. The chocolate and wine shop are bombarded with daily requests for raffle prizes. But how often do you think the local tattoo artist gets a similar email?

Find a specific person

When approaching a company for a raffle prize it is generally best to direct your message to a specific person. Ideally, this would be the owner of the company. Sometimes it is easy to see who this is as their name and contact information is clearly displayed on the contact us page. If the details are there then include them on your spreadsheet so you can send a personalised message.

If not though, don’t waste loads of time searching this out. In most cases, the message will be forwarded to the right person.

I’ve done the hard work for you

I really have!! If you are looking for raffle prize ideas, I’ve put together this huge list to get you started.

Start contacting people on your list

You should now have an epic list of people to contact. The bigger the list and the most amount of time you spend on this, the easier it will be when it comes to sending out your ask. Obviously, the more emails you send, the more successes you are likely to have.

Although letters are great, I usually just stick to sending an email. I’ve had a good enough response from email alone previously. The only exception would be if I print a letter which I would then hand deliver to a manager in a supermarket or to shops if I am out in town for the day… some places, this is the only way to reach the manager (especially with branches of chains who usually have an individual say on charity allocation budgets).

Follow up a week later

This step is so important! I’ve had more successes from follow up emails then I have with first emails.

A week after I send my first email I send a follow up if I haven’t heard back. This is where it’s important to keep your spreadsheet organised so you can keep track of rejections and emails so you don’t get confused.

It’s harder to ignore the second email as it feels like someone is sat waiting for your response 🙂

Thank successes

If someone emails to say they are happy to donate a prize get back to them straight away. Say a huge thank you and ask if they can send the prize out straight away. It’s good to get it early on in case someone changes jobs! If it is for a service you could offer to put together a PDF or envelope with the details for the winner if they don’t have a voucher to give already.

Once the raffle is finished always follow up with a final thank you saying how much you raised.

Keep at it

You’re going to get a lot of rejections. Just keep sending those emails!

How to get raffle prizes donated

How to get raffle prizes donated

Hopefully, now you are raring to go get those prizes! I’m happy to answer questions but please just ask in the comments box so I don’t have to repeat myself in emails.

This blog was part of a charity fundraising series which I put together to encourage people to use their adventures for good. The full series of blogs include:

Good luck with your prize hunting!

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