If you are a non-profit group, like a school, youth or community organization, there are so many corporations out there willing to donate free samples of their products to you to hand out at your event.
Know what you want. Companies often manufacture many different products. When you are planning your event, first think about everything that you’d normally have to pay for and then solicit free sample donations for those items instead. For most events, these include food, drinks and morale boosters (token gifts that lift people’s spirits). People love to get stuff for free, especially if it’s something useful.
Get started early. Many companies want free product samples donation requests 90 days before the event. If you go much later than that, you’ll likely be denied because your request cannot be processed in time, go much earlier and the letter will be put in a pile and forgotten.
Create a form letter to solicit donations. Don’t count all the free products samples donations you need or want for your event coming from a handful of companies. Often the most generous donations come from the place you would least expect. This is why it is best to send out requests for free products to as many places as you can.
Creating a form letter makes this process practically painless as it only takes minor changes to make a good donation request form letter appropriate to send to many different businesses. A good donation request letter should be addressed to the person or department within the company in which you are soliciting, but if you don’t know that information, using a generic greeting like “Dear Event Sponsorship Department,” should be used.
Next, list a brief history of your organization or event, your current project (including a timeline or date of the event) and what you are looking for from the company (cash or free product donations, vouchers etc. for specific items). Then tell them what they will get in return for their donation to your event (publicity through organization website, newsletter or other advertising, etc.). Finally, list all your contact information, where to send product samples and thank them in advance for their time and generosity in supporting your endeavor.
Go big. The biggest corporations have the most money so can hand out the most free samples of their products. Think of companies that market products relevant to your event. Sporting events, green causes etc. often get food samples from companies like Cabot cheese, Kashi and Newman’s Own. This is not always the case, however, as many companies support specific causes. For example, Nike and ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s both support humanitarian causes so are more likely to donate to events and fundraisers with an eye on it’s impact on the larger world community.
The biggest corporations also receive the most requests for free product samples donations so they have developed a streamlined process for handing out product samples that makes soliciting donations easier in most cases. Sometimes some detective work is required however, and everything must go through their system to be considered. Luckily, this information is now mostly available by searching online at their website. When visiting a prospective giver’s website, if it is not immediately obvious where to go to ask for donations, look for the “About Us” tab, and then search their “community involvement” or similarly named sections and you’re likely to find the causes they support. If, after searching the site you still can’t find any donation specifications go to the company’s “Contact Us” page and send along your donation request letter to whoever seems to make the most sense to you. (Likely someone with an “administrative” title).
Go small. The same things that make large corporations great for soliciting free product samples donations are what can handicap you as a fundraiser and event organizer. If you are organizing an unusual or local event, soliciting donations from your neighborhood businesses could make a lot more sense for you. If you live in a small town, these small local businesses are likely tapped out from every school function, church group and who knows what in the region. If they can’t donate what you suggest, ask them what they do have that they’d be willing to donate.
Most of all, be passionate about your cause; enthusiasm is catching!