We recently heard the phrase “small up.” It means to look wisely at your resources and find ways to live with less while retaining your focus on what’s important. While the phrase is being used within the context of personal finance, it is one that can have value to a nonprofit.
Fundraising often focuses on securing the funds needed to operate a nonprofit. Another aspect of fundraising is securing in-kind gifts and services. This means asking individuals, organizations and businesses to donate those things you would ordinarily have to purchase. This can reduce operating costs, and fundraising needs. You can also look at these gifts as expanding the impact of your fundraising: you can dedicate a larger percentage of funds raised to service, advocacy, performances or classes.
If you are a board member ask that time be set aside to review your organization’s budget for the purpose of identifying areas where the board – or volunteers or staff – can solicit in-kind items that offset budgeted costs.
The gifts can be large or small. They can include donations of printing, office space, storage facilities, food, or technology services. What you don’t want is donations of items you don’t need, can’t use or those whose use will increase your budgeted expenses. Think old computers that need to be repaired before they work slow– especially when you haven’t budgeted for computers.
Including the solicitation of in-kind goods and services in your fundraising plan can increase the involvement of board members, volunteers and donors. While not everyone has the ability to make a meaningful financial gift many of us have the ability to give time and resources. Related to this, while not everyone is comfortable asking people for money, many of us easily ask for involvement, goods or services.
Including these donations in your fundraising can grow your donor pool and expand your reach into the community. They also provide current donors with another way to partner with your nonprofit. For example, if your organization is planning a technology upgrade consider asking a corporate donor to conduct a technology assessment for you. Their expertise will help you make wise purchasing and training decisions. And who knows – maybe they will make a financial contribution to help cover the upgrade.
Bottom line: In-kind items should offset a line item in your budget. While other donations are welcome, these should be a priority.