The title of this article on a mint green background to the left of a graphic of two individuals collecting in-kind donations.

3 Strategies to Streamline In-Kind Donations for Supporters

Without fundraising, nonprofits would be hard-pressed to fulfill their missions. But monetary gifts aren’t the only contributions beneficial to your nonprofit. Other donations, such as in-kind gifts, are just as useful. Accepting in-kind donations allows your nonprofit to increase support by capturing the generosity of supporters who might not be able to donate monetary funds.

To help you maximize in-kind donations for your nonprofit, this guide will cover the top strategies for streamlining your in-kind gift process. That way, you can confidently solicit and accept a variety of donations from loyal supporters.

What are in-kind donations?

According to Jitasa, in-kind donations are contributions of products or services that companies and businesses give to a nonprofit instead of a cash contribution. This includes:

  • Goods. These are typically physical materials or assets that nonprofits can use to enhance some aspect of their work. It’s a great way for donors to support your organization while staying sustainable by recycling their items. For example, if you plan to host an auction, you might solicit in-kind donations of auction items from supporters.
  • Services. This type of in-kind donation is a contribution of time and expertise to perform a service that your nonprofit would otherwise have to pay for. Donations of services are particularly useful if your nonprofit is still small and doesn’t have the extra budget to hire external professionals. For example, an individual working at a marketing agency might donate their services to design marketing materials for your upcoming fundraising event.

Volunteer time is another common yet often overlooked type of in-kind gift. As volunteer time is estimated to be worth about $32 per hour, it is an incredibly valuable type of donation for your nonprofit.

Much like with any other type of donation, it’s important to recognize donors for their generosity after an in-kind gift. Establish appreciation strategies to specifically recognize donors for their in-kind gifts.

Now that you know what in-kind donations are, let’s dive into the top strategies for streamlining the in-kind donation process for supporters.

1. Establish clear guidelines for in-kind donations.

Have you ever tried making a payment for an item or service and had trouble getting your payment to work? Your first reaction was probably frustration. You may have even decided that you didn’t need that item.

It’s a similar feeling for donors—regardless of their gift type, you need to make the process easy to ensure that they go through with their gift. In-kind donations are no exception. However, their donation process will be slightly more complicated, as donors will need to go beyond inputting their payment information.

To ensure that donors go through with their in-kind gifts, establish clear guidelines. These should include:

  • Type of goods and services. Be upfront about the type of in-kind donations you’ll accept. This may change depending on where you are in your fundraising cycle or your current organizational needs. For example, if you’re hoping to plan several events in the next year, you might request the services of a fundraising consultant.
  • Condition requirements. For goods, specifically, include any requirements you have for item condition. For instance, if you’re looking for auction items, you’ll probably be looking for new or gently-used goods. If you’re looking for lighting equipment, you may be satisfied with functional items that show some wear and tear.
  • Excluded in-kind gifts. If there are any common types of in-kind gifts that you specifically won’t accept, include them in your guidelines. Let’s say that you’re looking for marketing help. You may request specific services to meet your exact marketing needs, such as branding expertise or video content creation.
  • Donation process. For goods, establish a drop-off point where donors can leave their gifts. Or, if you have extra staff time, create a pick-up system. For services, provide guidelines as to the commitment that you’d like the donor to make, whether they need to work with you on-site or if remote is acceptable, and any other expectations you might have.

After you’ve established guidelines for in-kind donations, add them to a landing page on your nonprofit’s website. That way, supporters can easily reference this information if they’re considering making an in-kind gift.

2. Promote in-kind donations to supporters.

If you don’t inform supporters about in-kind gifts, they may not even consider making them. Properly market in-kind gifts by promoting them through multiple communication channels. That includes your:

  • Website
  • Emails
  • Social media posts

In your messages, focus on the benefits of in-kind donations for supporters. You might say that it’s a convenient way to recycle their items while contributing to a great cause. Or, you could say that donating services allows them to give back to the community without any financial commitment. Add a link to your in-kind donation guidelines so that viewers can easily get started with the process.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to seek out local businesses to help promote in-kind gifts or make contributions directly to your nonprofit. For instance, if you run a soup kitchen, you might ask local grocery stores to promote your request for in-kind donations of canned food. Or, you might ask the same store if they’d be willing to donate that food directly.

3. Host an in-kind donation event.

Much like regular fundraising events give supporters a structured way to make financial gifts, an event that focuses on in-kind donations streamlines the gift-giving process.

Two great ideas to consider include:

  • Recycling drive. With a recycling drive, you can make money with in-kind donations of recyclable materials such as metal, plastic, or textiles. Ask supporters to collect these items and donate them to you. Then, sell these items to a local recycling center and put the funds back into your mission. If you don’t have the employee time to spare, Donate This Recycle That recommends arranging for pickup with recycling centers instead.
  • Clothing drive. Clothing drives are flexible events that can serve many different purposes. For example, if your nonprofit’s beneficiaries are people experiencing homelessness or poverty, you may organize a clothing drive to obtain winter clothing for them. Or, you can host a clothing drive fundraiser by selling any donations back to a recycling organization.

There are a variety of other donations that can feature in-kind donations, including second-hand store events and auctions. Don’t be afraid to get creative with events, but be sure to make your donation process clear for each one.

In-kind donations allow you to leverage the generosity of supporters who might otherwise not be able to contribute to your nonprofit. With a streamlined and convenient process, you’ll be able to maximize the number of donations you receive, allowing you to push forward your mission. Be sure to properly recognize in-kind donors to encourage their continued support and secure their future financial generosity.