How to Find Deli Donors


In this Lab we’ll go through a few simple steps that will support you in navigating the process of securing donors for your deli.


Inviting businesses in your community to donate deli supplies or equipment is a wonderful way for them to contribute to the mission of ending hunger in our lifetime! In-kind donations can reduce your deli costs to zero, allowing you to invest 100% of your deli donations in your partner organization.

My name is Talis, and I’m FeelGood’s co-founder. I’ve had a thing for in-kind donations and sales ever since I was a kid (seriously, I was selling ads for a radio show I used to host when I was 9!). I’m excited to share some tips for garnering in-kind support from local businesses.

In this Lab we’ll go through a few simple steps that will support you in navigating the process of securing donors for your deli. Here’s a sneak peak: It’s not that hard when you assume that everyone wants the opportunity to make the world a better place!

Step 1. Know What to Ask For

How do you identify what your needs are? How much cheese, produce, and bread do you really need to run your deli? Great questions! It all depends on the average number of sandwiches you sell per week. So begin by calculating that number: Multiply how many deli days you anticipate selling or already sell per week and how many sandwiches you anticipate averaging or already average per deli day.

Once you have your average, estimate how much of each donated ingredient you’ll need. Here are a few helpful averages:

  • 1 lb of cheese = 7-10 sandwiches (depending on the cheese)
  • 2 slices of bread = 1 sandwich
  • 1 tomato = 6 slices = 2-3 sandwiches

Are you requesting gift cards from grocery stores? We estimate the rough cost per grilled cheese sandwich is $1. If you’re making 200 sandwiches, you’ll need about $200 worth of groceries at a place like Trader Joe’s.

Consider using the Annual Budget Template to further define your budget needs.

Step 2. Know Where to Find It

Think grocery stores, farmer’s markets, restaurants. Start with the stores or companies you already love AND the ones where you have connections. It never hurts to know someone.

Get together as a leadership team (or as a chapter!) and take a few minutes to make a list of all the places that 1) people love and 2) where people might have a connection. You can also do a walk or Yelp search for local bakeries, farmer’s markets, and grocery stores in your town to add onto your list. On top of that, consider heading to a grocery store or co-op to scout out local food providers – I’m thinking hot sauce, jams, produce, and even cheese.

Step 3. Write the Letter

Next step is to write a letter! Here is a template to support you in the process. I strongly recommend adding a paragraph about your personal connection to the company you’re writing to – even if it’s just about how much you love their products!

Also, be sure to include a few ways in which your chapter will support your donor in return—such as advertising at the deli and events (it’s really hard or expensive to get company logos as promotion in university premises!), naming a grilled cheese sandwich in their honor, and of course, letting them know that the equivalent dollar amount of their donation is 100% tax deductible.

NOTE: In order for your chapter’s donors to receive a tax write off they must mail the “In-Kind Donation Form” to FeelGood World twice annually at 351 17th Ave., San Francisco, CA 94121. Present this form to your deli donors in December and May.

Step 4. Visit in Person

Deliver the donation letter in person whenever possible. Drop by the business and ask if you can speak to the owner or manager for a couple of minutes. If you do get to meet that person, introduce yourself and say a few (authentic) things about their business—what you like and feel connected to. Introduce FeelGood and why it’s important to you. Let them know that you are there to invite them to join the mission to end hunger. Make a clear ask and leave the letter behind. When you get home, be sure to send an email thanking them for their time and for meeting with you. Let them know that you are happy to answer any questions, and that you look forward to hearing from them.

Step 5. Follow Up

Follow up a week later by calling or emailing your contact to see if they have a response. The food/restaurant industry is hectic and fast paced, so don’t be shy about following up several times if you don’t get a response right away. If you have the time, follow up in person. It’s always best to connect in person to truly build a relationship that’s lasting and based on mutual respect and friendship.

Step 6. Nurture the Relationship

Many experts in the “fundraising” world believe that it takes 7 touch-points to truly build a relationship with someone. So get started on that! Make sure to:

  • Send gratitude letters at the end of each school term (include photos, impact, results, even a diploma for taking a stand for the end of hunger with your chapter!);
  • Drop by to say hello & share how things are going at the deli
  • Purchase an items from their business or plan chapter outings to support their business
  • Post them in your chapter’s social media channels
  • Leave a FeelGood gift – like a USB, button, or sunglasses.

When it comes to building strong relationships with your donors, it’s the little details and the authenticity that really matter. So get out there and don’t be shy. Be excited about offering people an opportunity to bring more meaning to their lives by contributing to the end of hunger in our lifetime.