Especially in this uncertain economic climate charitable non-profit organizations need to think outside the box for their donation request strategies. When it comes to in-kind donations (items or services donated to events or campaigns by companies or sponsors), a fundraising plan of action needs to happen before non-profits can expect donations to fall into their laps. When planning large-scale gala events or golf tournaments that involve auctions, these tips will put you way ahead of the fundraising game.
Compile a database list of in-kind donations and prioritize items. Set deadlines for items and write effective (and short) donation request letters. Mail donation request letters eight months to one year in advance of events/campaigns. Do not expect in-kind donations overnight. Follow up with every contact on your master in-kind donation list. Divide companies and/or items between staff and/or volunteers (so it’s not as overwhelming).
Target companies and sponsors that have the funding/resources to underwrite or donate items. Don’t lock companies into large versus small ticket items. Brainstorm and utilize resources from volunteers, staff and vendors.
Ask for discounts from large vendors (such as rental or tent companies). Most vendors will give non-profit organizations partial discounts. Generous vendors will sometimes offer an in-kind donation of rental fees/tent usage. Create an in-kind sponsor level for vendors who waive fees and donate services.
Take what you can get in this tough economy – don’t be picky. If a company can donate 200 flashlights (as opposed to 2,000), accept that amount. Approach other companies and ask them to match Company XYZ’s donation of “200 flashlights.” Company XYZ may be able to donate the rest of the items or similar items.
Always follow up with phone calls and thank you letters after securing in-kind donations. Create a donor agreement letter and ask companies to sign (so they don’t forget that they agreed to donate and you have it in writing). If a company wants “acknowledgement,” offer a link to their website or a sponsor thank-you in the program. An in-kind donation is just as valuable, and should always be recognized along with monetary sponsors/donations.