Requesting In-Kind Donations: Answering 3 Key Questions

In this article, learn more about how to request in-kind donations from your supporters and ways to utilize those donations for your nonprofit.

Nonprofits are constantly looking for ways to sustain themselves and power their mission year after year. While most nonprofits eagerly search for strategies to help them garner more donations, there’s another, often-overlooked method of support—in-kind donations.

In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at in-kind donations and how they can help your organization. This article will answer three key questions about in-kind gifts so you can feel properly informed about these donations and how they lead to even greater support for your nonprofit. Let’s get started!

1. What are in-kind donations?

An in-kind donation is any gift or contribution made to your nonprofit that is non-monetary. Common types of in-kind donations include:

  • Goods. When most nonprofit professionals think of in-kind donations, they think of goods. For example, giving canned food to a nonprofit food pantry is making an in-kind donation. However, your nonprofit can also accept goods that don’t directly help your beneficiaries. For example, you could accept office supplies, furniture, and other items that will empower your staff members to further your mission. Plus, this type of donation is good for the environment, as it encourages supporters to recycle their gently used goods.
  • Volunteer time. Although your nonprofit probably already recruits volunteers to help your cause, it’s important to recognize that volunteer time as a donation. In fact, the estimated value of an hour of volunteer work is about $32. Be sure not to overlook this type of in-kind gift.
  • Services and consulting. Services and consulting are other types of in-kind donations that a supporter could make to your nonprofit. For example, you might enlist a human resources consulting firm to do a free HR audit of your organization. Services such as these can improve your nonprofit’s operations and set you on an easier path to success.
  • Facilities and equipment. Your nonprofit will undoubtedly need to rent out facilities or equipment at some point. For example, your next event may require a space that fits over 1,000 attendees and video equipment for your live stream. If you were allowed to use an event space for free and if the video equipment was donated, these would be in-kind donations that would fit your needs.
  • Software and technology. Due to budget constraints, nonprofits are sometimes unable to invest in software and technology that will streamline their operations and make it easier for them to help their beneficiaries. That makes in-kind donations of these types particularly helpful for your organization.

Each of these different types of in-kind donations comes with its unique benefits for your nonprofit. Consider your organization’s needs and add the in-kind donations you’d like to receive to your nonprofit’s online donations page. Although you probably already have a dedicated volunteer appreciation process, be sure not to recognize other in-kind donations as well. That way, your supporters will feel that their contributions are equally important as a financial gift.

2. Who should I request in-kind donations from?

It can be intimidating to ask for a new type of donation from your supporters. However, there are many groups of individuals that you can successfully request in-kind donations from. A few popular groups to ask include:

  • Followers. These individuals have expressed interest in your nonprofit but haven’t engaged much further. While they have their reasons for not making a financial gift to your nonprofit, they may be open to making an in-kind donation like goods or equipment.
  • Volunteers. Your volunteers are already making an in-kind donation to your nonprofit—their time. Properly steward these individuals to ensure that they continue lending their assistance to your nonprofit. Plus, they may be inclined to donate services if asked. For example, a graphic designer may be willing to design your social media materials.
  • Donors. Donors are the backbone of your nonprofit, as their gifts are essential to your success. Since they’ve already demonstrated a vested interest in your organization, they may be open to making a different type of gift as well.
  • Major donors. When it comes to larger appeals, major donors are the ones to ask. These donors are financially capable of giving larger gifts and may be well-connected. They may allow you to use facilities that they own for free or introduce you to other individuals who may be able to help. Don’t be afraid to contact them for non-financial support.
  • Businesses. According to 360MatchPro, corporate philanthropy is becoming increasingly popular for businesses. Look for companies with existing philanthropic initiatives to make appeals to. These companies will be more willing to donate their services or unused equipment for your cause.

To support your appeals for in-kind donations, consider investing in nonprofit constituent relationship management software. With the right tool, you can track supporter information to identify individuals who would be most receptive to an appeal. For example, if a supporter has a history of volunteering with your organization, they’ll probably be interested in donating more of their time through volunteer opportunities.

3. What should I do with in-kind donations?

A perceived detriment of in-kind donations is that they are less flexible than monetary gifts. In actuality, they can be used to support your nonprofit’s needs in a variety of ways. You can use in-kind donations to:

  • Support your beneficiaries. For select nonprofits, in-kind donations can be used to directly support your beneficiaries. For example, an organization that supports people experiencing economic hardship could collect donated clothing to give to their beneficiaries to help them stay warm during the winter months.
  • Support your nonprofit. Aside from directly helping your beneficiaries, in-kind donations can fulfill your organization’s needs, streamline operations, and otherwise aid your programs and activities. In-kind gifts of services, consulting, software, and technology can all support your nonprofit.
  • Host events. In-kind donations are especially helpful for hosting a nonprofit event. For instance, if you’re planning to host a gala, you could reach out to restaurants and catering businesses to see if they’d be interested in donating their services for the event. You reach out to major donors to obtain a desirable venue. And, if you’re looking for decorations on a budget, supporters may be willing to donate some to help you out.

In addition to these options, you can also use in-kind donations to fundraise for your nonprofit. A common way to do this is to accept goods from supporters and use them to create raffle baskets that you auction off at your next event. You can also host a recycling fundraiser such as a secondhand clothes sale. Supporters will donate their clothing, you’ll sort through them, and then you’ll display the items and allow attendees to purchase them on the day of the sale.

If you’re an environmentally-focused nonprofit, you can also fundraise by asking supporters to collect recyclable items, such as glass bottles, tin cans, and paper. Bring these items to a recycling center, where you’ll get paid per pound of recyclable material you collect. Or, if that’s too much hassle, some organizations like Phill the Box (which will pay per pound for clothing you’ve collected) will give you collection boxes to set up and will pick up donations for you.

As you consider strategies for fundraising and garnering support from constituents, don’t overlook the power of in-kind donations. Be sure to outline your rules for accepting in-kind gifts on your nonprofit website’s donation page. And, properly steward in-kind donors by giving them the recognition they deserve.