Today’s article written by Heather Pencil, member of the BWI Board of Directors and Master Babywearing Educator for BWI of Greater Austin; addresses ideas and tips for babywearing groups to utilize when contacting manufacturers for discounts and donations.
Helping Manufacturers Get More Bang for Their Buck
When requesting donations from manufacturers, small businesses, WAHPs (work at home parents), etc., it is important to remember that they receive requests all the time. Hundreds of requests. You have to set yourself apart from the rest. Don’t waste their time with poorly constructed sentences or bad grammar. It’s much like a job resume, you have to sell your group.
1. Describe your group’s social outreach efforts. What can your group offer that would benefit the possible donor?
- Do you have a blog or website? (If no, why not!?)
- How many members are in your facebook group?
- How many likes on your facebook page?
- How many followers on instagram and twitter?
These are all free social networking platforms that you should be using to your group’s advantage. Any traffic that you can draw to the donor’s business is a selling point.
2. Talk about your meetings:
- How many meetings do you hold per month/year?
- How many people attend these meetings?
- Do you have members? If so, how many memberships?
- How many rentals or how frequently are carriers checked ot from your library?
- What does your library or lending program consist of?
3. It is important to mention that a contribution of carriers is not an end-user donation. It will get into the hands of many caregivers so they can “try before the buy”. This reduces the chance that the caregiver will be dissatisfied with the purchase, which could ultimately lead to fewer merchandise returns. Another huge benefit for manufacturers is that the caregiver is educated on the use of the carrier, so the overall risk of possible user error that the manufacturer bears is significantly less.
4. It is best if you can send your request on your group’s letter head. It gives validity to your cause and allows your request to stand out. If you have one, an annual report is really great to showcase your assets. The manufacturer may request documents substantiating your groups nonprofit status or other official forms, so have those available.
5. Things you should consider before soliciting a manufacturer:
- Why are you asking this company?
- Have your attendees been requesting their carrier?
- Why do you want/need their support?
6. Talk the company up, mention qualities or aspects about the carrier that you like or that your members are wanting. Show them that you actually know about their carrier and how to use its features. This will support the previous claim that you’re able to teach their end-users how to safely carry babies.
7. Be open to discounts or at least paying shipping. Not every company has free carriers coming out their ears, in fact, you’ll be lucky to hear back at all from 10% of your inquiries. Some manufacturers will sell to you at cost. This could be anywhere from $20 up to $100. Even if you can’t afford to buy them now, respond and let them know you appreciate their generosity and that when you have the funds (water that Paypal tree), you’ll be elated to take them up on the offer. Be open to seconds, display models, discontinued prints, etc. I’m not saying you should buy a felted wrap or a torn ring sling, but minor stains, old prints, or just down-right ugly carriers make fantastic library carriers. I feel as though the uglier that the carrier is, the less chance there is of it being stolen. Our group has some pretty ugly carriers and they still get a lot of love.
8. Make sure to close the email with your title. It doesn’t have to be a super fancy title; you could be the librarian or outreach specialist. The point is to tie yourself to your group in an official role.
9. Do everything you can to be appreciative and don’t come across greedy. These companies are under no obligation to offer you anything. Make sure to follow through with your promises,and with that said, don’t make promises you can’t keep. A well thought out letter, that you devote time and consideration into preparing might make the difference between an automatic deletion versus a contribution to your group.
Here are a few sample letters:
To whom it may concern,
I am the treasurer for Awesome Babywearing Group (USA). We have approximately 40 paid members and 250 participants and maintain two lending libraries of baby carriers (one in this location and one in that location) as well as a teaching collection of entry-level carriers for babywearing classes. Awesome Carrier is towards the top of our wish list for both of our lending libraries since it is a carrier that many of our members are interested in trying out and purchasing. Eventually we would like an Awesome standard carrier and an Awesome Toddler Carrier. Currently our funds are extremely limited but we are always looking ahead for great carriers to acquire when we have funds available. Do you offer any discounts or wholesale pricing for sling libraries and babywearing educators? We would be very happy with an out of stock print or a second as long as it represented the current model of Awesome Carrier.
Awesome Babywearing Group
I am the treasurer for Awesome Babywearing Group, a babywearing group located in some state that is real. We have approximately 50 paid members and a reach of 350 parents and caregivers through our facebook group and we maintain a lending library for use by members and by attendees at our free bimonthly meetings.
We would be interested to know if you offer any discounts or demo carriers for babywearing groups. We are particularly interested in toddler size carriers and carriers for a warmer climate so of course awesome carrier stood out to us!
Many thanks for any information you can provide!
Awesome Babywearing Group
I am the librarian for the Different Awesome Group. I am contacting you because we are interested in getting information about carrier donation. A lot of our members have been interested in your wraps. We don’t have any of your products in our library, but would love to support and represent your business. If you are able to donate or offer a discount, we would love to work with you.
We have twice monthly meetings and have attendance ranging from 30-60 people every meeting. The carriers that are donated to our group are loaned out for one month and when we need more funding we take loans and pay them back asap so that our members are able to try products before they are obligated to buying them. We also let attendees try carriers on during the meetings.We offer instruction free of charge, so that the general public knows how to use baby carriers safely and effectively.
Your donation would benefit your company by advertisement of the physical product, photos of the product being used by our members, and recognition on our chapter’s website (link), instagram, twitter, and facebook pages (link). We appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.
Librarian and VP of Outreach
Different Awesome Group