You needn’t be a rocket scientist to know the value of a celebrity-embellished souvenir. An original copy of a movie script signed by the film’s stars can make or break the goal set by any charity. If your job is to rustle up cash donations from celebrities, expect the task to be daunting. Like most “asks,” your request needs to be exquisitely timed and appropriately targeted.
Research the names of celebrity agents and managers. Write directly to the agents and managers of celebrities of interest to increase your chances of getting a response. Avoid taking the “direct approach.” Writing a letter to a celebrity asking for cash is guaranteed to get your appeal into the boxes and bags of letters that wind up in the hands of clerical people working in the offices of agents and managers.
Use targeted causes to reach celebrities. Patrick Dempsey, of Grey’s Anatomy fame, dedicates his efforts to a cure for breast cancer. Michael J. Fox advocates on behalf of Parkinson’s disease. Mary Tyler Moore’s passion for curing diabetes has made her a high-profile spokespeople. Go directly to the main headquarters of the cause you represent. Ask for the charity’s public relations arm. Make your request for a celebrity donation. As a bonus, your contact may be able to get donations from more than one celebrity.
Use social networks for help. Take advantage of Twitter, Facebook and other networks to tell your story. Explain, for example, your upcoming auction on behalf of childhood leukemia and your need for donations in support of your cause. Ask for conduits to celebrities, sports figures and other high-profile people. Remember that you’re competing with other equally important causes being touted in cyberspace, but your persistence will pay off.
Request in-kind donations of clothing, mementos, signed photos and personal items that will raise big bucks at an auction rather than asking for cash. Don’t limit your requests to celebrities. Write to the publicity or public relations arm of television networks, Broadway shows, movie studios and distribution companies. Approach book publishers; ask for autographed copies of books written by celebrities.
Purchase authenticated celebrity memorabilia from collectors and then mark it up at your charity event to make a profit. This should be your “last resort” tactic as you don’t want to have to spend money to raise it; but if, for example, you notify a collector that you want a signed Paris Hilton t-shirt for an upcoming fundraiser for Multiple Sclerosis, the shirt's owner may be willing to negotiate a better price.