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Turn Donation Requests Into Sales

Americans are noted for being generous. A hurricane, tornado, flood – the donations pour in. The United Way campaign is perhaps the best example of average people helping one another. In the hospitality industry, helping one’s community has been a tradition for many years.

One popular form of our generosity is donating goods or service. Groups such as a church, school, the scouts, social service organization, etc. will request free museum tickets, an overnight hotel stay, dinner for 2, cruise, or baseball tickets that can be used as a fund-raiser. Most requests are for worthy organizations or causes. At times, the volume of requests can be overwhelming to the point of needing to developing an official policy on donations. If you do offer donations to worthy causes, don’t just send the donation. Could you turn the request into a sale? Here are some suggestions to turn a genuinely civic-minded gesture into a marketing tool.

When mailing the gift certificate, tickets, or other information include your organization literature. A rack card, calendar of special events, even a restaurant menu would work. As appropriate, go one step further. If you are dealing with a school group, why not mail your school museum tour information? A church requesting a donation? Do you have info on family reunions you could include? The name of the organization would dictate what marketing information you might mail. Put on your “thinking cap” to determine the most appropriate information for the organization.

Next, a week after the mailing follow-up with a phone call, if you have access to the phone number. See if the group received the information indicating you are happy to help out with the donation. Now, do a little mining about whether you might do a little business with the group. You can quickly determine if the person requesting the donation is the correct person to answer your questions or if they can refer you to someone else.

It is at this point can should be able to determine if the donation request is a sales lead or a one-time request. If it is a sales lead, certainly follow-up immediately or in the future. Then ask if the organization would be interested in receiving periodic information from your organization and add to your mailing list. Suggestion – somewhere in the database you may want to indicate the record was a donation request. By doing this during your annual database review you can quickly determine if the donation requests for a particular year should: 1) stay active for another year, 2) be archived, or 3) deleted.

Note: In larger organizations, donation requests are typically not the responsibility of the sales department. So if you want to tap into potential new sales leads, you may need to work directly with whoever is responsible for answering donation requests. For the cost of postage, printed literature, and a phone call, a fund-raising or other request may result in a future sales. Simple, inexpensive marketing.