Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Simple Tools for Finding In-kind Donations

Looking for new office furniture? Desperate to upgrade your software? Need art supplies for your children's activities? Hoping to spruce up your landscaping? Trying to cut costs from your annual budget? Here are some simple, practical suggestions for finding donations that are either free or very inexpensive:
  • Post a wish list: This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to solicit in-kind donations. Simply post a list of all the things you need on your website, newsletter, and printed brochures. You might be surprised at what you get - folks often recycle items that are perfectly workable and practically new. Be specific about your needs, and find a way to thank people while gently and kindly declining donations that do not fit your specifications.
  • Check out Tech Soup: This nonprofit offers free and/or discounted technology products and information to other nonprofits. This includes articles, blogs, and free webinars as well as more than 400 products from donor partners including Microsoft, Adobe, Cisco, Intuit, and Symantec:  http://home.techsoup.org/pages/default.aspx
  • Register with Good360: Good360 donates new products like office furniture to nonprofit agencies from the corporations that manufacture them. First you register, then search for the products you need - or you can submit a wish list. Just note that you will be required to pay any shipping costs:  http://good360.org/
  • Sign up with Ireuse: Ireuse is another online resource, this one offering used office furniture for free to registered nonprofits. The furniture comes from for-profit businesses that are upgrading:  http://www.ireuse.com/site/
  • Post on Craigslist: Search to see if the item you need is available through Craigslist. Or you can post your own specific request at no charge. Make sure to provide contact information and a link to your website so folks know who you are and what you do:  http://sfbay.craigslist.org/
  • Ask at your local Thrift Store: Often, small local thrift stores will keep an eye out for specific merchandise for community-based nonprofits - and give them to you for free or for a discounted price. This is an especially good resource for art and craft supplies.
  • Build relationships with local businesses: Shop locally - and once or twice a year, ask those businesses to give back to you with a specified in-kind donation. If you are a membership organization, this can a way for them to join. Be sure to acknowledge these donations publicly through your website, member lists, and newsletters.
Just a couple of final notes: send formal thank-you letters when you receive in-kind donations, and be sure to include the total value of in-kind donations in your annual fiscal reports.These strategies can help build donor relationships and financial sustainability.  Good luck, and happy shopping!

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