Volunteering, hosting charity auctions, sponsoring donation drives, and organizing galas were all options for donors at one point. But how are nonprofits supposed to keep donors engaged when those alternatives are gone? With the spread of COVID-19 and the impact it has had on our economy, the reflex to dive into typical relief efforts has come to a screeching halt. Being creative and persistent has never been more vital for nonprofit survival.
As fundraising professionals, nonprofits have historically made cash donations the largest focus of their donors’ attention, especially in times of crisis. No matter what an organization’s mission or who their audience might be, a portion of those unrestricted cash donations are being redirected to purchase services or needed items. In-Kind donations have always been a natural fit for charitable institutions and now, more than ever, a solution to a growing problem.
Remind Me What In-Kind Means?
In short, in-kind giving is a donation of anything other than strictly cash gifts and can include donated services, time, or goods. They are tax deductible and can be measured and recorded just like a cash donation.
In-kind time and services are professional services that are donated. They can come in the form of tradespeople donating their work for the nonprofit without expectation of payment. For example, a plumber can fix your leaky sink as a donation of their skills, or a local law firm may offer their employee’s time to assist with legal matters for free. These types of donations allow nonprofits to operate their organizations with proper support and services without pulling from an operating budget to pay for them.
In-kind donations of goods operate a bit more tangibly. A donor could purchase new chairs for a facility, hygiene products for a shelter, gift cards for families to buy meals, etc.
But Do I Really Need These Types of Donations?
Some organizations are more inclined to make the most from traditional in-kind giving, but ALL nonprofits need items whether it’s evident in their external and internal programming or not. Think about ongoing material needs: basic office furniture and cleaning supplies, facility equipment, event and volunteer materials, even donations of potential auction items. All of these items are costly purchases that could very easily be transferred to hands of altruistic donors.
Alright, Tell Me The Benefits
Any donation, be it cash, goods, or services is useful. But there are a few perks of in-kind donations that may spark creativity in how you utilize your outdated wish list:
Extra Cash For Unpredicted or Ongoing Expenses
In-Kind donations keep your events running smoothly without dipping into your budget of unrestricted cash donations. For example, when a donor purchases school supplies for your annual back to school campaign, you can direct the cash on hand to cover operating and overhead costs for the event or throughout the year. If you know what items are needed for annual programs, tell your donors!
Complete Transparency for Donors
This is helpful in two ways:
Donors feel more comfortable about where their contribution is being used.
In-kind donations offer the chance to tangibly show donors what it takes to operate your organization. It gives them a price tag on your expenses.
Increase Donor Retention With Wish Lists
Similar to a cash giving donor database, companies exist that offer the same measurement and communication tools for in-kind giving. Saying thank you has never been more important to keep donors engaged and feeling the impact of their gift. RightGift, our nonprofit technology platform, has seen more in-kind donations and donations of a higher value during this uncertain time. With the average donation size 2.5 times higher than the average cash donation on GoFundMe.
You Got Me, How Do I Get Started?
Tell Your Story: Every organization’s needs have a story. Use images and descriptions that will show your donor the impact they can make with a backpack full of school supplies. Instead of listing everything you can think of, try breaking it out into categories so that your donors can pinpoint exactly what the items are used for. We suggest 13-19 items max. This keeps your donors from being overwhelmed. A shorter list gives the donor authority and confidence in where their donation is being used.
Be Specific: In-kind giving is getting the items you need, which includes NOT getting the items you DON’T need. In need of clothes? Specify size, color and quantity. You don’t want too many of one item and not enough of another. As soon as a donation comes in, it’s best to update these quantities on your wish list so donors are receiving accurate information. Using an online wish list tool like RightGift that will update for you is particularly helpful.
Set Goals & Deadlines: In-kind campaigns are most successful when there is a sense of urgency. We recommend using timed campaigns that last 2-4 weeks. It may be tempting to keep a campaign ongoing, but consider hosting monthly drives for specific categories of needs. Keeping your wish lists timed, targeted and fresh will engage your community to take action now instead of waiting until next month.
If you’re looking for an online tool to meet all of these needs, check out RightGift’s completely free platform! RightGift allows you to create customized wish lists, saving you time and money. Share your immediate and long term needs online making your organization more accessible to your donors. Your organization will be able to:
- Save Time with a Dedicated RightGift Campaign Manager
- Explore Wish Lists Possibilities with Unlimited Wish Lists
- Stay Organized with Active Inventory Management Reporting
- Increase Donor Retention with Accessible Donor Information
- Reach Donors Faster with Easy-Start Templates for Seasonal Needs
- Make Giving Online Easier with Wish List Sharing Tools
- Worry Less with Additional Cash Back Donations
Nonprofit technology has finally caught up to service the nonprofit sector and their need for in-kind donations. Everyone could use a helping hand and at RightGift we’re reaching as far as we can to offer that assistance right now and for the foreseeable future.