How to Ask for Gifts in Kind — A Quick Guide

How to Ask for Gifts in Kind (GIK)

A Quick Guide

When we think of fundraising we often think of money that we donate to a charity. There is also another kind of fundraising that involves non-monetary gifts. This is called Gifts in Kind (GIK). GIK are items (not cash) that are donated. The principles of fundraising hold true both with monetary and with GIK efforts. This short guide is based on nearly 10 years of nonprofit experience (in food banks, churches and currently Habitat for Humanity) and fundraising theory (The Complete Guide to Fundraising Management, Stanley Weinstein, Association of Fundraising Professionals, 2009).

If the following steps are followed your organization will be in a better position to successfully engage potential donors in a GIK campaign.

Training

Be sure that you and your staff have a uniform understanding of the program. Everyone should be able to deliver a short 30-60 second elevator speech about the program that will receive GIK.

Make sure the basics of the program are understood: who, what, when, where and how. The style of presentation can vary on the individual but the program facts need to remain constant among all.

Once the elevator speech is mastered build more details on top of it.

Make sure your facts can speak towards:

  • How will your program benefit the community?
  • How your program is different than any similar program?

Further, take inventory of your materials. Identify what items you have and what items are still lacking.

Frame the items that are lacking not as a sad situation but as an “opportunity for partnership” so the inventory will no longer lack in quality items thanks to a generous GIK donation.

Know as many specifics about the need as possible: how many items are needed; why they are needed; how will each donated item helps the program move forward?

Also, be able to speak about how the items will be maintained and how you will be a good steward of the items.

Finally, know the incentives that you can offer for a donor:

  • How will that partner be thanked?
  • What benefits are for the donor?
  • Talk about program need and how the donor will help meet that need.

Once you know all of the above details, practice repeating them to a friend. This practice will prepare you to speak to others with more ease (write these details down and file them so they can be used for grant proposals in the future). After these details are mastered, enter “role play” and pretend your friend is a possible donor. Reverse rolls and ask thorough questions. Prepare each other for the time when you will ask a donor for GIK. Your summary of all of the above points should be communicated comfortably between 5-10 minutes. You should also be able to expand and respond to any questions with ease.

 

Prospecting

Once you know your program details well, you can connect with people who are most likely to connect with your mission. During this step, you will look for possible donors who may support your cause.

It is wise to start asking for GIK with people who are already friends of your organization as people are more likely to give to people they already trust.

Use your network to make introductions to people you may not know.

Once prospects are identified, invite prospective donors to trainings, open houses, or other events. This is called a “point of entry”. You need a way for new donors to get involved with your organization and to interact with your organization’s mission. You want to build a bond with the donor.

At the event, ask attendees to complete a sign-in sheet with their name and email. Send a newsletter about your program to the attendees. In the newsletter, offer a link or a method of payment for support of your program. Have a simple break down such as:

  • $5 provide 3 baseball bats
  • $10 provide 3 baseball bats and 5 baseball gloves
  • $25 covers the tuition cost for one child for one month.

You can see that the above breakdown allows for the donor to see exactly where their money goes.

Even if attendees do not decide to contribute, this newsletter will keep the program relevant and active in their minds. Send newsletters on a regular basis (such as once a month) to keep people updated. This is called “donor cultivation” as you keep people involved over time.

In newsletters, show pictures of your clients smiling or other moments where your program is successful. Newsletters can simply be blogs that are maintained through WordPress or other blog sites. This cuts down on the risk of lost emails and the cost of hard copy mailings.

Ask In-Person

Once you have a strong bond with a person, you should move towards asking them to give.

This “ask” should be in person between you, one of your peers and the possible the donor. This is best practice as a conversation with 3 people is simply less awkward than with just 2 (you can also turn to your “wingman” if you are asked a tough question or if you have to leave for some reason). Ideally, one of you should know the donor well. Have a practice “role play” at least once before this meeting so each of you knows what to expect from each other. Make sure that the person who knows the possible donor the best makes the “ask” (which will be described later).

The donor should be soo familiar with your organization that he or she should not be surprised that you are asking for money or GIK. Never ask for money from someone who does not know your organization as they are less likely to give (again, people are more likely to give to others that they know which is why we have a “point of entry” to introduce people to the organization and “donor cultivation” to keep people involved).

If you are meeting with a leader of a local company for GIK, some companies have preferred methods of how you ask for donations. Do your research and follow their directions. Some others do not. Call the company and ask to speak to decision maker.

Ask to schedule a face to face chat. Over coffee, share your elevator speech; then dive into the other details of your program. If possible bring brochure and pictures of program. If all goes well, this should be a casual two way conversation.

At the end of the coffee, be clear about what you need and when you need it.

Then, ask for the GIK.

Then, allow for silence. Do not speak. Allow the next words to come from that potential donor. It is critical that you do not break this silence as silence allows the donor to think and process.

Be able to field their questions but do not be afraid to say “I don’t know, but I will follow up with you as soon as possible”. Leave info they can share with their colleagues or boss.

If donor says yes:

  • Clarify when and how the GIK will be delivered.
  • Clarify the quantity.
  • Place the above details in a memorandum of understanding (MOU).
  • Send this MOU to the donor after the meeting so they know the terms of their GIK.
  • Sign and keep on file; share a copy with the donor.

If donor says no:

  • Ask when would be a good time to have another coffee to revisit the question.
  • Ask why it is not a good time to give.
  • Ask if it is ok to continue to send newsletters and updates.
  • Stay in contact with them via email or phone call.
  • Never be discouraged by a “no” as donor cultivation may take months or years.

Other things to consider:

Program Participants Become Donors

  • Program participants will be your best fundraisers as they know the program the best.
  • If appropriate, train participants on how to be an ambassador for the program.
  • Invite participants to come to speaking events about the program. Ask them to share testimony of their experience with potential donors.

Keeping Donors

  • Do not take their support for granted and assume that present supporters will support you again in the future: ask for continued support.
  • Send donor updates and invite them to events.
  • Abide by the MOU terms.

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