There are two types of donations that can be made to a 501(c)(3). A cash donation is the transfer of funds to a nonprofit. An in-kind donation is the transfer of any other type of asset.
In-kind gifts are contributions of goods or services, other than cash grants. Examples of in-kind gifts include:
- Goods, like computers, software, furniture, and office equipment,for use by your organization or for special event auctions
- Services, like meeting space, photocopy and mail services, and administrative/financial support
- Expertise, like legal, tax, or business advice; marketing and website development; and strategic planning
- Cash equivalents, like stocks, bonds, mutual funds
Corporations and businesses are a common source of in-kind gifts. In fact, corporations increasingly prefer to provide in-kind support. Thus, if your funding request has options for in-kind support, this may help to start a relationship with a corporate funder.
Look for a match between what you need and a company’s products. For example, if you’re setting up an after-school program and need laptops, ask a tech company. Or if you run a soup kitchen, you might approach a food company or local supermarkets.
Here are some tips for finding in-kind support:
- Start local. Local businesses may be interested in supporting your organization, especially if your constituents are in their target audience, because it helps to promote their brand and build loyalty. Think of businesses that you might visit because they gave free coupons for your library’s summer reading program or donated food for a 5K fundraiser. Also, some large, national retailers allow their individual stores to manage some types of donations at the local level.
- Approach the headquarters of large companies directly. If you’re on a company’s website, look for links that say something like “Community support” or “Corporate social responsibility”. To find prospects, you can use Foundation Directory Online, our searchable database of grantmakers. In Search Grantmakers mode, add a Transaction Type search for “in-kind gifts” in addition to your subject and location filters. Subscribe online to search now or search for free at all Foundation Center libraries and Funding Information Network locations.
- Use clearinghouses. Several organizations match nonprofits’ needs with donated or discounted goods. For example, TechSoup provides access to donations and discounts from more than 60 large technology companies. Other organizations are listed below. If you’re looking for items to give away or auction off for a fundraising event, some of the following websites also list potential donors. When asking for donations, keep in mind most companies need 4-6 weeks to process.
Please note, in-kind gifts must be accounted for differently than cash for tax purposes, so be sure to consult a tax expert.
Learn more about corporate fundraising with Introduction to Corporate Giving, available free as an online webinar or an in-person class.
See also our related Knowledge Base articles:
- How can I find sources of "pro bono" expertise?
- Where can I find information on corporate giving?
- How can I find corporate sponsorship? Where can I find examples of sponsorship levels?
- What is cause-related marketing?
- What are employee matching gifts?
- Where can I learn more about workplace giving?
Selected resources below may also be helpful.
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