Every year we receive many questions about how to secure corporate funding for reunions. First, you should realize that there is no magic in scoring corporate funding. It does require research to determine who you’ll contact. Start with corporations where your members work (or have worked) or to which they have some connection. Choose corporations to whom you can justify the request with lots of examples—e.g., their products are favorites of your group and why. Then comes the most essential step: find the member who can write the most compelling letters. Tell companies what you’ll do for them, what they can expect from you for their support. Don’t even be tempted to send copies of your letters; each must be original. Then maybe you’ll get lucky.
Also, don’t overlook that many corporations whose contests and sweepstakes offer family reunions as prizes. In fact, a Reunions magazine reader is the winner of last summer’s American Airlines Family Reunion Sweepstakes. Click on contests and sweepstakes at www.reunionsmag.com for current offerings. Good luck! EW
In the past, pleas for sponsorship to companies/businesses occasionally reaped some benefits. It is not out of the realm of possibility it might happen again but it should not be something you can expect or depend upon.
Requests of sponsorship have rarely worked for many years. That, of course, does not mean yours might not.
Fun fundraising before and at your reunion has a far greater chance of providing some of the funds you will need.
If you want to invest the time and effort, these are our suggestions.
Approach companies/organizations/associations/businesses your family/group is ‘related” to, employed by, members of, customers/fans of. Explain your reunion’s relationship to the company; everyone drinks Coke! or Miller! or everyone drives Fords or everyone eats Wonder Bread. And be prepared to prove it. Make a direct connection between you, your family/group, your reunion and this company, not any company, THIS company. Flatter them with facts that make them want to help you.
Research each company you send to. You’ll need to know and understand their product(s)/service(s) and make that clear in how you address them. If it’s a company reunion member(s) work for, the letter should be a “team effort”: you and the employee. Highlight the employee and why the request is important to h/her.
You can ask for donations of money, product or inkind services.
VERY briefly explain/describe your family and reunion, a little history of each, why you are asking for support, what you intend to do with the money and how/where you’ll acknowledge the contribution.
Do NOT use boilerplate letters. Make each and every letter an original addressed specifically to the company/their services/products. From personal experience as a former reviewer of grant applications, boilerplate is very easy to spot and just as easy to file in the nearest wastebasket.
When you write your letter, make every word count. Make it as tight and punchy as possible; no articles, no prepositional phrases (object of the preposition can be the modifying adjective, if it’s important enough). Make sure every word is spelled correctly … every mark of punctuation is in the right place!
Edit and proofread your letter over and over again. Ask others to read it before you send it.
I sincerely suggest that you review all the potential fundraising ideas outlined/described on our web page. There are lots of ways your reunion members can enjoy fund raising events, before and during your reunion.
Grants and convention services
There might be grant money available for reunion groups from convention and visitors bureaus but you must 1) be working with the CVB to plan your reunion, 2) booking 50 or more room nights, 3) apply at least one year or more in advance. Grant awards are generally based upon the economic impact the reunion group will have on the destination which can include your meeting date(s), size of the group. number of room nights, length of reunion and number of attendees. One formula for determining whether a reunion is eligible for a grant: number of attendees registered (which means members MUST register early), length of stay, number of hotel rooms generated
Organizations who offer grants are often charged with increasing tourism which often means for slow periods when there are fewer groups booking. The only way you can know if grants or assistance are available is by asking the CVB if the area you’re considering has grants for groups and whether or not your group qualifies. Often grants are designated for groups far larger than most reunions. If they do grants, ask for a copy of the grant guidelines to determine for yourself what the qualifications are. Some designate exactly what grant money can be used for, which may not match what your reunion needs. These can include transportation. attraction and venue fees and equipment rental fees.
Grants can be awards before the reunion or reimbursement of expenses upon submission of receipts for approved expenses paid after the reunion or a combination of both. Some require that your reunion has never been at the destination before or has not been there for 3 for 5 years or more.
Most CVBs offer complimentary services which can significantly reduce your costs, such as pre-event mailings, name tags, welcome bags, registration assistance, maps and destination literature, discount coupon books, gifts for auction/door prizes, bottled water and snacks for hospitality rooms, welcome letters from public officials.
Some CVBs provide site inspection tours and web pages for registration.
If your reunion has been successful raising money from corporations, businesses, organizations or CVBs, we’d be very interested in learning about it, Send to firstname.lastname@example.org.