Even in a recession, there is still money out there to help you host your charity event on a very small or zero budget. Check out the following tips!
Make sure that your organization has 501(c)(3) status. This is a classification by the IRS given to not-for-profit organizations such as churches, schools, scientific research facilities, charities, etc. Have a copy of your IRS verification letter to submit with your letters.
Use your organization's letterhead to write a letter stating what your need is, and specifically how the funds or donation will be used. This could be as simple as making several copies of your letterhead and feeding it into your printer, and printing your letter one third of the way down the page so that the text will not overlap.
Be specific to each organization that you are requesting a donation from. If you expect them to be generous, take the time to personalize each letter. In the end, the extra effort will pay off.
Do your homework. There are many companies who make donating part of their business plan. It's a tax write-off, and it creates good will for the company in the eyes of the public. This works to your advantage.
Check local department stores and restaurants regarding their policies about donating to not-for-profit organizations. Companies like Wal-Mart, Wendy's, and Burger King have well-publicized donation polices, but many smaller chain grocery stores and department stores donate to local communities as well.
Ask each of your local businesses, such as department stores, restaurants, retail stores, hair salons, tanning salons, etc, to donate. Be flexible, and be willing to accept and implement whatever they are willing to give. The cash that they donate might have strings attached (environmental grant that can only be used for an environment-friendly project, gift certificates could be raffled, auctioned, or given as prizes. Likewise, merchandise that is donated could be raffled, auctioned, or given as prizes at your event.
Talk to the vendors at your favorite local stores. Coca-cola, Pepsi, Frito-Lay, etc. will often donate items such as snacks, drinks, prizes, in return for advertising that they sponsored your event. We hosted a safety day which was sponsored by Coca-Cola. They gave us soda to sell, along with a basketball hoop with stand, a fishing pole kit, and a Coca-Cola inflatable raft for eight people. In return, our fliers said "sponsored by Coca-cola", and we issued press releases to the local media including the sponsorship information.