Donations are giving your product, money or service to a charity or charitable cause. This is a great way to be locally relevant, be part of the community and support local charities. Also, consider the way the donation can build awareness of your location if it’ done through an event, auction or fundraiser.

See the Charity & Community Give-Back Guide for the comprehensive approach to this topic.


There are probably many organizations in your community that need support, and you are most likely inundated with requests for donations. The best way to handle donation requests is to have guidelines and a process for accepting them.

Who Should I Donate To?

While you can make donations to anyone, it’s best to give to your selected charity partners or charity platform (the kind of charities you want to give back to like Education, Environment, Animals). See:

Charity: Selecting a Charity Partner

Taking Donation Requests

It’s helpful to ask for donation requests in writing 30-60 days before the donation is needed.

Requests should contain the following information:

  • Who: Who is the organization and what do they do?
  • What: What kind of donation is being requested?  Ask the organization to be specific about what is wanted.
  • When: When do they need the donation?
  • Where: Where is the event?  Is it near your location or closer to another location?
  • Why: The reason why you should make the donation.

You can post these Guidelines on your website in a Donation Requests section along with information on who you donate to and what you donate to. Ensure your employees are well versed in your Guidelines.

What Should You Donate?

Donate what you do best and what showcases who you are.  The following are examples:

  • Product: Give of your product offerings. If you’re a restaurant, you could donate food or gift cards for dining in your location. 
  • Service: If you’re a coffee shop or cafe, you could donate coffee service for the event (coffee brewed or for brewing on site, cups, lids and condiments if needed).
  • Gift Baskets: Charity groups often ask for small gift baskets and product bundlings. Consider what you can bundle from your location to give. For example, as a spa, you could give a gift card for service and some retail products.
  • Goody Bag Items: Charity groups having an event could also ask for goody bag inserts for guests coming to the event. Consider giving sample sizes of products or coupons.
  • Experiences: Silent Auctions and Fundraisers often ask for gift certificates or experiences. Consider teaming up with neighboring business to put something together like dinner, movie or theater tickets and one-night hotel stay.
  • Catering: See Charity: Supporting Fundraiser with Catering.
  • Money: Of course, you can also give money to an organization, but giving of your products and services is best to represent who you are.

If the donation is an event, give what can give you the greatest visibility, like coffee service using your logo cups.

Granting Donations

When granting a request, contact the organization to inform them that the donation can be made, and verify the following information:

  • Exactly what you will be donating
  • Time and date the donation will be picked up
  • Any special arrangements for picking up the donation
  • Contact name and phone number for the charitable organization

Make sure the employees working the day of the pick up are aware of the pick up.

Declining Donations

It is always difficult to say no, especially to worthy charitable causes, and most locations are not able to meet all requests.  Determine why a donation request should not be fulfilled at your specific location… too large, too many donations given that month, not the charity type you donate to, etc…  Then, either call the charity or send a letter to the organization explaining why.

Tracking Donations

It’s a good idea to keep track of all the donations you give in a year. Use a system like an Excel spreadsheet to keep records. You can include this type of information in your company bio / about us. Also check with your accountant about tax deductions for donations.

Receiving Recognition

Often, groups will mention the donation in a newsletter, program or sign at the event.  Some groups will display brochures or thank you verbally during a ceremony.  Offer the organization your business cards, logo and/or ad, if needed.

After the event, follow up with the group to inquire on how the donation was received by the participants.