The Art of Getting Goods & Services Donated

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If you’re volunteering with a nonprofit or want to launch an organization rooted in a social cause as opposed to making money, you’ll undoubtedly rely on the generosity of donors. Monetary donations are critical to helping a charity stay afloat, but often in-kind donations such as goods or services as just as important.

For example, if your organization brings people together for activities, you might need to good food and beverages donated. If you are putting together a fundraising auction, you’ll want to get business and individuals to offer anything from tangible goods to gift certificates for things like restaurants, massages, and vacations.

Different than a straight ask for money, getting goods and services donated can be a creative and easy way to gather support for your organization or cause. Here are strategies to get you going:

* Offer free advertising in exchange for their donation. There are many ways to do this, including listing the name of the business on your organization’s website, featuring their logo in the program for a particular event, making a special announcement to your constituents, and more. Since many businesses consider “word-of-mouth” as a great way to get new customers, they’ll often consider this type of close-contact advertising totally worth it. Plus, the fact that you’re giving them a chance to look good by being associated with your cause beefs up their altruistic profile in the community, which in turn will draw customers.

* When first looking for donations, start by reaching out to small companies where you’ll be most likely to connect with the owner or decision maker with very little effort. The larger the company you’re soliciting donations from, the longer it will take to get an answer and the more hoops you’ll have to jump through to get a “yes.”

* Be prepared to provide the companies you’re contacting with detailed info on who you are, what you’re asking for, and how it will benefit the organization. You’ll also want to explain to a company why giving to you and your organization is in-line with their own mission statement. The more compelling a case you can make in showing them why giving you free goods and services makes sense, the more likely you are to get what you’re asking for.

* Send a thank you note to individuals and businesses who donate goods and services. They’ll feel like their contribution was important and appreciated and you just might turn them from one-time donor into long-term supporter.

* Think outside the box and suggest ways companies can support you in a way that benefits them, like helping them use up old inventory or discontinued items or maybe to give them a chance to promote a new product or service through your organization.

* Whenever possible, make the ask in person. Email, text, or phone might be the quicker, and less intimidating, option, but the power of an in-person request cannot be underestimated. Why? It’s a lot easier to say no over email than it is to you with all of your passion and enthusiasm!

* When reaching out to potential donors, hook them with a personal story. If you’re trying to get goods and services to support an animal shelter, don’t just give them the facts about how many animals are in a need. Tell them the heart-wrenching story of one animal’s journey. The more powerful and personal a story you can use to convey your organization’s needs, the more invested they’ll become in the ultimate outcome.

What ideas do you have to add to our list?


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