As a business owner I get requests almost every day for a donation of goods, services or cash for everything from non-profit organizations to local schools. But as the owner of Proms Pageants and Pretty Things one request I hear more than anything else is will I sponsor someone for a pageant. It is the way in which these requests are being made that most concerns me and is something that I think needs to be addressed.
Here are some basic ground rules to follow to help you get the best results and most support possible.
Unless you have a personal relationship with the business you are approaching the biggest thing to avoid is to make your request by phone or by email. You need to take time to go to the business and ask in person. You might want to plan to do a day of sponsor visits. Try to approach businesses that you and your family frequent already. If you have never been to the business as a customer you will be less likely to be offered help then if you have supported the business in the past. Your family doctors, dentists, and insurance agencies are great places to start.
Don’t show up in jeans or shorts and a t-shirt. You are asking for someone to back you as you try to become a role model for other young ladies. Dress the part. Have your hair and make-up done and, if you have a local title, wear your crown and banner.
Don’t show up at peak times. For best results go to the business when they are slowest. For example, if you are going to a restaurant go mid-day, not during the dinner rush. If you are going to a pageant store, don’t show up Saturday afternoon.
Have your 30 second elevator speech already prepared (this is your quick introduction as to what you are doing and what type of help you are looking for). Be prepared and organized and have your bullet points written down and ready to hand to the owner or manager. If he or she is busy they may not be able to take time to talk but you can hand them your basic information so they remember who you are. This should include your name, age, pageant system name, date and why it’s important to you. Also, if there are a couple of options such as ad pages or cash sponsorships give them options upfront. Cash donations to pageants that are for profit organizations can’t be written off but an ad page can. Most importantly, let them know why or how it will benefit them.
If you are looking for help with their goods or services don’t ask for free things and be specific with your needs. If you need help getting your hair done before the pageant ask if they would be willing to sponsor you by offering you a discount on hair services. Be prepared to immediately say what you can do in exchange for these services. Will you mention them on an ad page? Post before and after photos on your Facebook page? How will it benefit them to help you?
Come up with creative ideas to help earn your sponsorship. If you are approaching a restaurant, ask if you can earn $1 for each plate purchased with a special flyer or coupon that you give to your friends. If you have a prom coming up, offer to get credit towards your pageant gown for each prom dress you get your friends to buy. Creative ideas that support you and the business will be much better received then requests for free cash or goods.
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