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Don’t Forget The In-kind Support

“They’re leaving money on the table,” I said to myself!

I remember my first time serving as a panelist, adjudicating grant applications for an institution disbursing funds to area nonprofits.

“They’re leaving money on the table…again,” I repeated to myself after yet another grant application showed exactly $0 on the in-kind line of their budget.

In-kind support (also known as Value In-Kind or VIK) likely is a key component of your income pie chart. And it’s one you need to be sure to both solicit and track. Examples of in-kind support include supplies, furniture, meeting space, and services such as a carpenter or web designer or legal services, just to name a few.

First, if you receive in-kind support, be sure to recognize it in your donor database. Make note of the entities providing this support and remember to steward the relationship. Don’t forget to solicit them for the support (at that level, or perhaps a higher level) when it is time for renewal as well.

Secondly, though, it often can be more helpful to secure in-kind support for budget-relieving expenses, as opposed to securing in-kind support for something the organization doesn’t really need anyhow. Make sure the VIK is for something you actually need.

Further, organizations should review their in-kind at two main times each year (assuming your budget cycle is a 12-month cycle). First, review the in-kind during your budgeting process, to identify what budgeted expenses could be relieved through in-kind as opposed to an outright cash purchase. Secondly, review your in-kind prospects just as you would your weekly or monthly development prospecting sessions; perhaps even maintaining a list of prospective in-kind donors to address particular areas of your expense budget.

And so, your in-kind checklist to consider:

  • Book in-kind contributions in your donor database, and steward them as you would cash sponsors or donor relationships.

  • Do your best to secure in-kind opportunities that are budget relieving, and thus reduce the amount of cash needed to be raised through development strategies.

  • Remember to include in-kind in your budgeting cycle and during your periodic prospecting exercises.

Finally, ask yourself, as a trusted colleague taught me, “Is the juice worth the squeeze?” Which is to say, are you going to spend four months and 10 coffee or lunch meetings just to secure a $200 in-kind contribution for three cases of wine for your reception, instead of securing four or five new larger donations during those donor calls?

There’s value in value in-kind!

Michael Pettry


Cape Fletcher Associates

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