Perhaps one of the most frequent questions I get when it comes to a wild game dinner is, “How do we go about getting businesses to support us with donations?”
It’s a great question, and there’s certainly many ways to do it. Over the years here’s some insights I’ve seen churches use to close the gap between hard costs and securing donations to offset the budget for the wild game dinner.
1. Have A Plan For A Wild Game Dinner Donation Strategy
Believe it or not, a plan reduces stress. Having a strategic plan doesn’t have to be complex. You can form a plan in 10 minutes in your next outdoor ministry leadership meeting that is specific to gathering donations for your wild game dinner. Think through:
- What items will you need donated
- What items will you you need to purchase
- Who is going to spearhead the effort
- How you’re going to follow up to show gratitude
2. Remember: Small Business Owners Usually Hate To See You Coming
It’s the cold, hard truth about leading outdoor ministry efforts. It’s not you, it’s the fact that they get hit up for everything and by everybody. You have needs and you have a limited budget. Here’s the problem, those small business owners are living on thin profit margins; and, as much as they’d love to help your outdoor ministry move forward by supporting the wild game dinner, your request is most likely the third one that week alone.
When a man is trying to run a small business, every time he gives something away, it is literally coming out of his pocket.
Let me tell you, small business is the backbone of this country, and there are some guys out there who are outdoor ministry leaders who have no shame and never think twice about asking everyone under the sun for a donation.
Those small items you scored as a donation may appear to be free, but there is often a big cost your church paid: that grocery store owner could end up despising your ministry and your church for hitting him up relentlessly multiple times a year for food for Vacation Bible School, charcoal for the senior citizen event, and then sodas for the wild game dinner.
So, just keep it in mind the next time you go around town asking everyone you asked last year. Be sensitive to how you’re being received.
So how do you avoid this?
3. Pursue Sales Reps Instead Of Small Businesses.
Sales Reps have a budget for donations and promotions. Small business owners do not. Here’s how to work this so that everyone wins.
Go to your local gun or archery store. Ask the store owner, “Hey, can you tell me how to contact the Hoyt Archery Rep that you deal with? I know you don’t have a ton of money to give away archery gear, but your Hoyt Rep does have a promotional budget and maybe he can help us out.” See, in that moment, the archery store owner is going to love you, and he’ll help you out most every time.
When you call the rep to ask for support of the wild game dinner, be sure to tell him that you’ll give his corporate brand promotional recognition through banners, logos on the placemat, whatever you can do.
4. Host Events To Raise Money For The Wild Game Dinner.
Some churches do not like the idea of a raffle. Personally, I’ve never seen the issue with it. Raffles can really work to raise money for ministry.
One church I know went to the local county fair with a .243 rifle complete with a Nikon scope. The gun store gave it to them at their cost. So they only paid “dealer cost” for the gun and scope. They had about $400 in it.
They set up a booth at the county fair, and offered a $1 raffle. They made a total of close to $1500. That’s $1100 that went to help cover the costs of their next event.
If raffles are not an option, host skeet shoots, bow shoots, seminars, whatever you can dream up to raise money. You may only make $400 from your skeet shoot, but that’s $400 less coming from the strained budget.
5. Ask Corporations For Leftover Promotional Items.
Every year the hunting industry hosts major trade shows. The Shot Show, ATA (Archery Trade Association), National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), Buckmasters, and many others.
Every corporation, from Winchester, to Mathews, to Primos, to Biologic, to almost everyone out there, often will have promotion items made specifically for these trade shows to give away at these events. It may be towels, caps, decals, flashlights, whatever. Make a ton of phone calls and see if you can get any left overs.
When you get the front desk, tell them you wanted to see about promotional items on hand and see if you can get to the marketing department. Tell them you’re not asking for money. You’re just wanting to see if they have leftover items on hand. I’ve seen it work sometimes.
A wild game dinner is a super way to grow your outdoor ministry. Be creative with your fund raising efforts and you can keep your reputation in tact at the same time.
Jason Cruise is a published author and speaker. He is the host of Spring Chronicles on Sportsman Channel.
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