In-kind support is a way in which your group gets other resources than money. Instead of buying everything with cash, you can seek donations from community members. Resources in kind, or non-monetary contributions, may be things that would otherwise have to be paid, or they may be things that money simply cannot buy. When someone volunteers, gives their service, supplies or free help, then they are receiving support in kind. In-kind support can be sought both from within your organization’s members and from your local community.
Community organizations need resources to put their plans into action. One of those resources is, of course, cash. But such money may not always be available, and some donations – individuals, groups, or businesses – may feel more comfortable donating something other than money. In-kind support should not be seen as the second best after direct monetary donations, but as an equally important part of the pool of resources available to your group.
Most likely, your group already receives a lot of non-monetary support. Does any other organization provide the correspondence service? Do you share space with the Chamber of Commerce or another group? Can they use their copier? Those are examples of in-kind support, examples that you may or may not count as donations to your group.
So the search for in-kind support should be an integral part of your action and sustainability plan. If your group wants to succeed, you will want much more than just money: you will also want goods, people, and services.
Types Of In-Kind Support
Let’s take a look at the three basic types of in-kind donations: goods, services, and people.
Assets are simply almost anything other than money – a car, paper, equipment, or furniture, for example. Assets are a vital non-monetary resource for any organization. You can find assets everywhere: in homes, businesses, governments, and civil groups. These can be used or surplus or they can be new products and merchandise. They can also be borrowed or can be obtained with the cooperation of another group.
Goods are a substitute for money. Cash and in-kind support (like goods) make a complete resource package.
- Equipment and furniture, including computers and photocopiers.
- Supplies, including paper, file folders, and other necessary office supplies.
- Space, including maintenance and utilities.
- Food that people take to regular meetings.
The services are often grouped together with goods as examples of in-kind donations-in kind donation request in-kind donations. Many overlook services because, with few exceptions, they are not tax-deductible as charitable contributions. Some companies deduct the time spent doing a charity service as a normal business expense. Others consider community service as a business function and do not keep a record of that task. However, services are a primary source of support for successful nonprofits.
Corporations are the best-known taxpayers, but donating services is undoubtedly a widespread community practice. Small businesses, vendors, universities, other nonprofits, professional individuals, and merchants all have services to offer. Anyone who provides services for the fee is probably offering them for free, or at a discount, to a worthy cause.
Why Request Donations And Support In Kind?
To increase your overall resources. The more resources, the greater the possibility of taking actions and doing an effective job. Cash is obviously a primary resource since it gives you access to whatever you need. While many groups and individuals are unable to donate cash or feel uncomfortable doing so, they would be happy, if asked, by donating supplies, space or time. Since community groups often need such resources, this can be a great opportunity. Your group will be closer to finding your goals when you have the resources to put your plan into action.
To help build community support for your work. When people or organizations donate money, a computer, or their staff for a time, the connection to their cause grows stronger. They have more than an interest in seeing you succeed. So it is not just funds, goods and services that you are receiving; it is receiving goodwill in addition, and developing new allies as well.
To find other sources of support, sources that you did not know about. By using connections from your supporters, you may be able to gain that support as well. In this regard, both your in-kind resources and your overall community support can grow. Your new supporters could then help you in ways that no one would have anticipated.
To acquire resources that come without restrictions. You can spend the money you get from local taxpayers in a way that you feel is necessary to support the operation of the organization. Many public funders limit the amount of money organizations can spend on operational costs – administrative salaries, rent, office functions, etc. For some organizations, community contributions are the only ones to finance those costs, but unrestricted funds – money you can use for whatever you want – are valuable to any organization, and can give you the freedom to run the program to the best of your ability.
To obtain items, equipment, etc., that you would not otherwise obtain. Furniture, copiers, computer upgrades, and other similar items that you simply would not be able to afford, and perhaps would not have permission to buy with other funds, may sometimes come from community sources. Firms that are updating their technology may want to get rid of computers and other equipment that are much more advanced than the old machines that their organization is using. An accounting firm that needs to impress its clients may be scrapping furniture that is more attractive and in better condition than the chairs you got from the dump four years ago. If they give it to you, instead of disposing of it, you can earn a tax write-off, have the satisfaction of being environmentally responsible by recycling your waste, and provide a community service.
You are probably already receiving different types of in-kind support for your group. When your group is starting a new project, some new resources may be needed. This is the right time to determine exactly what kind of support your group needs. Take an inventory – a “resource inventory” – of your group. Then use the brainstorming technique to determine which members of your community are able to donate some or all of those resources.