What Constitutes a Gift In-Kind?
In-kind donations, usually a part of a nonprofit's overall funding plan, include contributions of goods or services. They are not donations of cash. Examples include:
- Goods, such as computers, software, office furniture, or equipment.
- Services, such as the use of a venue for a meeting or event, copying and mail service, and accounting services.
- Expertise, such as tax advice, legal services, development of marketing materials or a website, and strategic planning.
- Equivalents of cash, such as bonds, mutual funds, or stocks.
In-kind donations can come from individuals but are most likely from corporations and businesses.
How Does a Nonprofit Ask For an In-Kind Gift?
Although you may want to simply make a phone call to make your request, corporations may prefer a letter, but not usually a formal proposal such as you would likely send to a foundation. The letter should be short and spell out precisely what you need.
Some corporations do have online application forms, so check to see if this is the case. A call to the corporate office that handles corporate giving will do to get this information or a visit to the business website.
Below is a fictional sample letter to a corporation requesting a gift-in-kind, based on a format recommended by Beverly A. Browning, author of Grant Writing for Dummies.
Notice that, even though this request is a letter, it is concrete. It describes the work of the organization in detail and spells out exactly what it needs from this company. The more specific you can be, the easier it is for the company to say yes.
Besides the details of your request, include a story that will touch even a corporation. In this letter, the postscript contains that story.
August 26, 2015
The Gravitas Neighborhood Senior Center
90123 S. Lindenwood Lane
Monsoon, IA 14399-5678
Ms. Lauren M. Funder
Senior Vice President and Corporate Giving Officer
Cooper Restaurant Equipment Corporation
10903 Birdseye Terrace
Monsoon, IA 28281-7777
Dear Ms. Funder:
Two hundred of the 425 people over the age of 65 who use our senior Center are considered to be living below the state poverty level. Most of those receive their morning and noon meals through our meals program on-site.
In the past two years, the number of older adults living below the poverty level in Butler County, District 9, has risen 10 percent annually. Many of those have found their way to our Senior Center and to our daily meals program, where we serve nearly 300 breakfasts and lunches daily for a sliding fee based on income.
The neighborhoods surrounding our senior Center contain primarily lower-middle-class families, the working poor, and older people living on modest fixed incomes in their small homes, senior apartments, or with their adult children. The Senior Center is the only possible safe environment for most, outside their homes, and they come nearly daily for companionship, recreation, and warm meals.
Located in Monsoon, Iowa, The Gravitas Senior Center was founded in 1985 by the Butler County Council on Aging, which serves a large senior population throughout the county's 75 square miles.
The Gravitas Neighborhood Senior Center's mission is to provide a safe and nurturing environment to support the social, physical, and health needs of the neighborhood's older adults.
Over 100 volunteers and four full-time staff assist in the Center's daily programs and activities throughout the year. The Center offers several outstanding programs such as:
- Young Forever: An exercise program with subgroups of differing physical abilities. The groups include dance classes, chair yoga, an outdoor walking program, using a 1/2 mile track on the Center's grounds, and water aerobics, in the Center's indoor pool.
- Games for Brains: A program of games for varied interests and abilities encompassing computer games, trivia, and puzzles to chess, checkers, and other board games. Several reading groups are included in this program as well as the Brain Olympics program delivered by faculty and students from the University of Iowa.
- Lecture Me Now: A series of presentations by experts in longevity and aging, as well as entertainment ranging from films and staged performances by the Community Theater of Monsoon, to visits by groups of school children who sing, dance, and perform.
- Meals for Life: Serving a hot breakfast and a hot lunch that follow federal standards for age appropriate nutrition. In any given week, we provide approximately 800 meals.
According to the May 2015 issue of the American Journal of Gerontology, older adults are 89 percent more likely to be physically and mentally active if they have a safe and attractive place to get together, and if they receive at least one nutritious meal daily.
The seniors in our community would not have these advantages were it not for the work of the Gravitas Community Senior Center. Many, who live at or below the poverty level, would never receive a nutritious meal, much less two in one day.
In fact, many of the neighborhood's elders would find themselves isolated and without safe opportunities to exercise, to socialize, or to invigorate their brains if it were not for our facility.
The Center is open six days per week from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. It feeds, provides social opportunities and exercise of mind and body to the otherwise underserved senior population of our neighborhood.
The warmth and laughter within the Center's walls attest to the pleasure and health provided by the Senior Center to our community.
Unfortunately, our meals program has dilapidated and outdated appliances. As the Center's Executive Director, I am writing to you to request a gift in kind of a commercial stove and refrigerator manufactured by your company.
Not only is your business located in Monsoon, Iowa, not far from our Senior Center in the Gravitas neighborhood, but your commercial kitchen equipment is also known for its durability and functionality. I know because I've done extensive research on kitchen equipment, and your company's products stand out.
I have been particularly impressed by your Model 68B2 commercial stove and oven, as well by your 98 cubic foot, model 583J refrigerator. Both of these appliances would work well for our Center considering the number of meals we prepare and the people we serve.
If your company chooses to help our Center, you will contribute more than just equipment. You will be a key partner in providing a healthy life for more than 400 older adults each week.
The result of your help and our services means that our seniors, many of whom are poor, can live engaged, alert, and physically active lives as long as possible. These elders should never be considered excess baggage but valued members of our community as long as they live.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this proposal, and please do not hesitate to contact me at 485-312-4890 with any questions about this request. We are badly in need of new kitchen equipment and hope to begin the new year with it in place.
Hoping for your partnership,
Janice Head, M.A.
Gravitas Neighborhood Senior Center
Enclosures: annual report, program brochure, and letter from the City of Monsoon
P.S. As I was writing this letter to you, I received a call from the family of a senior woman, desperate to find a safe place where their mother, recently arrived from New York, could find other people her age to meet in her new community.
I was able to assure them that their mother would find a welcoming community right here at the Center, as well as many programs that would keep her healthy, active, and alert. I could hear the relief in their voices as they made an appointment to bring their mother to the Center on Monday morning for introductions and a tour.