How to Get Sponsorships for your Giving Circle

Nov 30, 2022

Co-authored with Hannah Yang (Founder & CEO at TheShareWay)

What better way to engage your attendees than having great food and snacks at your giving circle events? The good news is tons of businesses donate. 75% of small businesses and 94% of restaurants donate to charity. With good planning and the right tools, there’s a good chance you can get food and beverages donated. Here’s a guide on how to think about sponsorship for your giving circle events.

Who donates?

The first step is figuring out who donates and who to ask. Traditionally, nonprofit event organizers go door-to-door to local businesses to ask if they donate. This is a perfectly reasonable, tried-and-true approach you can take, but can also be time consuming. So here are a couple of alternatives you might also consider.

Go to your membership first: Many giving circle members run or work for local companies that would be more than happy to provide food or beverage donations to the giving circle as a means of connecting with new potential customers and promoting their product. Ask your members if this is true of them, or if they have connections to others that might be interested.

Leverage existing resources: Platforms like TheShareWay take the guesswork out of who donates. Simply drop in your location, event date, and the product you’re looking for, and the platform will surface a list of businesses that donate based on your criteria. If you’re looking for more tips, TheShareWay has written a comprehensive guide on how to find companies that donate and a list of snacks donation requests.

When is the best time to solicit donations?

We recommend that you start soliciting donations two months before your event. TheShareWay has done an analysis of hundreds of companies that donate products in their directory and found that 50% of companies' donation applications are due 6 weeks or more before the event date.

How to make the ask?

Have answers to all the common questions: Companies typically have the same set of questions. If you’re using TheShareWay to source companies that donate products, you’ll find that a lot of companies have donation request forms that you need to fill out and submit. Make sure you have the answers to the following common questions:

  • What is your organization’s mission?
  • What is your event about?
  • How is your event formatted?
  • How will you promote our brand?
  • How many people will be attending the event?
  • When is the event?
  • What would you like us to donate?

Draft donation solicitation email and letter templates: Some places won’t have donation request forms. Instead, you may need to send an email, mail in a letter, or hand drop a letter to the store manager. Make sure you have a standard template that you can easily reuse. Here are some great resources for templates to use:

In your letter, don’t forget to mention what you can do for them. Some promotions you can offer include social media shoutouts, logo placement on the event page or your giving circle’s website, or placements in your newsletter.

Use a nonprofit tax ID when applicable: A sizeable percentage of businesses only donate to nonprofits that have EIN numbers. In these cases, include this in your application and solicitation letter. Details for the Grapevine Giving Foundation can all be found here. Please note Grapevine cannot provide charitable tax receipts.

Attendee size matters: When businesses donate products, they’re interested in getting their brands out there and getting people to sample their products. The more reach you have the higher your chance of getting donations. If your giving circle meetup is typically less than thirty people, consider making a yearlong pitch and asking for a yearlong donation. For example, instead of asking for snacks for thirty people, say that you’ll have five events this year reaching 150 people and that you’re looking for snacks for 150 attendees.

Follow up at least twice: Don’t underestimate the power of following up when you don’t hear back from companies you’ve applied to. 45% of the sponsors I secured for a conference said yes after the first and second follow-up!

How to build good relationships?

Once your event wraps up, there are simple ways to continue building lasting relationships with your sponsors.

Send thank you notes: In your thank you emails include screenshots or photos of the marketing placements you did for the brand.

Encourage your members to tag them: Show the brand how much your members enjoyed their contribution by encouraging your members to post the event on their social media channels and tag your sponsors.

Your sponsorship checklist:

✅ Figure out who to approach

✅ Decide on the timeframe of your donation request (one-off event, yearlong…etc)

✅ Draft a donation solicitation email or fill in a donation request form

✅ If you don’t hear back — follow up!

✅ Send thank you notes with photos to highlight how you featured their brand, product or venue