A guest post by Wayne Elsey, Sneakers4Funds
Thousands of nonprofits across the country are short on the supplies they need to further their missions. Animal rescues don’t have enough blankets for their latest influx of kittens and puppies, and food banks are running low on the canned goods their beneficiaries need.
The culprit of this problem could be anything from underperforming fundraisers to a limited pool of dedicated supporters. Some nonprofits also find it challenging to decide where to allocate their funding. So as to combat these issues, nonprofits might choose to try a new way of fundraising: by requesting in-kind donations.
What Nonprofits Look for During In-Kind Fundraisers
In-kind donations are donations outside of traditional monetary gifts. Typically, these include goods, services, and time.
Almost any nonprofit organization can make use of in-kind donations. For example, if the organization helps underserved student-athletes, they might ask running stores to collect and donate athletic shoes.
For nonprofits, some of the benefits of setting up an in-kind fundraiser include:
- Reduced operating costs
- The ability to make a larger impact
- The opportunity to grow as an organization
- Providing a way to develop connections with other organizations
Despite these benefits, some nonprofits shy away from asking for in-kind donations because they aren’t sure what to request. Keep in mind that there are a wide variety of in-kind donations nonprofits can request, ranging from access to a fundraising event venue to goods like clothing and shoes. And as Sneakers4Funds explains, donating items like new, used, and gently worn running shoes can even help make the fundraiser more environmentally friendly.
In-kind fundraisers are incredibly impactful for nonprofits that are just getting started. In-kind donations like computers, office equipment, and professional services like accounting can help them get off the ground and expand their capabilities. These types of contributions have the unique ability to give nonprofits the exact items and tools they need to further their mission and reach more people.
How to Participate in In-Kind Fundraising as a Business
Businesses can play a role in the in-kind fundraising process, too. Many companies already contribute resources to philanthropic organizations, a part of the concept known as corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR programs encourage businesses to find the organizations and cause that benefit from their contributions the most and make a difference for those missions.
How can businesses get started?
To get started, businesses need to find organizations with in-kind donation requests they can fulfill. To find the nonprofits that need their donations, companies should:
- Look for new nonprofits in their area. If you are a business owner, look for young nonprofits without a large base of supporters. These organizations need in-kind donations the most so they can grow and serve more constituents.
- Contact nonprofits with causes relevant to your business. Seek out local nonprofits with a mission that aligns with your business. If you own a running shoe store, reach out to your local community closet and ask if they need donations of athletic shoes.
- Sponsor a charity event. Keep tabs on any local charity events like races or auctions. Sponsor these events by contributing your goods or services to help the nonprofit put on the event at a lower cost. A common way to support a charity auction, for example, is to contribute high-quality auction items. You’ll probably gain some valuable marketing during these experiences as well!
Once businesses find the right cause to support, they will need to decide how they will support the cause.
What can businesses do to support nonprofits?
During in-kind fundraisers, businesses have the opportunity to contribute exactly what nonprofits need, whether that is free coaching services for student-athletes or time from volunteers. Some of the common ways business owners can support nonprofits include:
- Supplying free goods. Offer free items to nonprofits that need them. Your business might offer school supplies to local teachers or donate the items you sell to a relevant organization. To make a large impact, consider running a collection campaign like a shoe recycling program to collect additional goods from your staff, customers, and other members of the community.
- Offering a free service. List of some of the services your business could provide to nonprofits. These services can be particular to the nonprofit’s cause, like a restaurant lending its head chef’s services to a soup kitchen. However, offering pro bono law, accounting, and business management services is standard and helps nonprofits better manage their organizations.
- Asking employees to volunteer. Let employees know about opportunities to volunteer for a good cause, offering incentives like paid time off to encourage participation. When looking for these volunteer opportunities, get your employees involved in the process. Consider advertising these volunteer opportunities to your customers, involving everyone from teenagers and college students to seasoned trainers at your gym.
Because there is a wide variety of in-kind donations, businesses of all shapes and sizes can make impactful gifts. If you are a small business owner, keep in mind that you can also leverage the power of your community to come up with contributions that help nonprofits expand their offerings to more deserving beneficiaries.
The next time a local youth center asks for running shoe donations, be one of the individuals or companies that steps up to contribute.
Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises (EE) and a member of the Forbes Business Development Council. Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Sneakers4Funds, which is a social enterprise that helps schools, churches, nonprofits, individuals and other organizations raise funds while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations.
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