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How to Solicit In-Kind Gifts for Your Nonprofit Fundraiser

When you think about what your event will cost and how your nonprofit can pay for it, think about the business contacts that your board, staff, and outside supporters have. Often, a business’s contribution of in-kind (non-cash) materials is more generous than any cash contribution to your event.

You may need to be flexible about timing and willing to drop things off or pick things up, but don’t overlook in-kind gifts. Donated auction items are one example. Other examples include the following:

  • Businesses in your community that have in-house printing equipment may be able to print your invitations and posters, saving you thousands of dollars.

  • A florist may contribute a roomful of valuable centerpieces in exchange for special recognition in the dinner program.

  • A donor may let you use her beautiful residence as your event site.

You may not want or need all the in-kind gifts that are offered to you. In cases such as these, do look the gift horse in the mouth! Don’t accept an in-kind contribution if it’s not up to the standards that you need for your event. Also, consider the implications of accepting the gift.

For instance, if your agency helps young people recover from drug or alcohol addiction, don’t accept a sponsorship from an alcoholic beverage company. If you’re afraid of offending the donor or hurting a relationship, you can ask to use the gift in another context and — unless it’s inappropriate — acknowledge the donor publicly at your event for his generosity.

Your donors will want to claim tax deductions for their in-kind contributions. It’s their responsibility to tell you the value of the gifts they give, and it’s your responsibility to acknowledge that value in a prompt thank-you letter. If they make a contribution of non-cash property worth more than $5,000, generally that item must be appraised before a value is assigned to it. For more information, see the IRS website.

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