January 28, 2022

In-Kind: 2 Ways to Maximize Its Value

The right kind of in-kind donations are budget blessings to nonprofits. This post shares two examples of funneling in-kind high-cost labor to do tasks better and save money. On the surface, the stories seem worlds apart. They both involve maximizing the value of your in-kind human capital donations.

Adapting these tactics will save you time money, provide superior results, and begin new relationships in your community. The first example represents a short-term approach, and the second is the long-term. I invite you to read them and consider how you might solve an agency need adapting the in-kind mindset both shared.

Short-term Excellence

When its executive director resigned because of family health issues, the Education Foundation of Sarasota County conducted a national search for a successor. Instead of performing the search in-house, a board member’s firm donated the staff of time of his personnel department to conduct it. This tactic succeeds because personnel departments undertake this work regularly and the nonprofit infrequently. The donation saved time, reduced risk, and enabled the organization to continue its work during a busy time. And since the foundation’s leaders interacted with the personnel department, they established new relationships.

Long-term Excellence

The second example comes from an award-winning down-payment assistance program I developed at Sarasota County Government. This program transformed renters into homeowners by providing down-payment assistance in a small loan. In this case, the board used in-kind volunteer labor was to solve a staff time crunch and leadership issue. Instead of the program’s staff gathering critical information from prospective homeowners, the program used the materials obtained by the mortgage companies.

This approach succeeded because the mortgage companies needed the information for their loan anyway, and the process involved adding one more piece of paper to a stack of documents. Since the program allowed the mortgage companies to grow their business, they were interested in “volunteering.” The down-payment assistance program recruited, qualified, and trained twenty companies to participate. It saved staff weeks of duplicative work.

What Is The In-kind Mindset? How Might You Use It?

This In-kind Mindset seeks volunteer experts to provide high-skill, in-kind expertise to solve critical operational needs. The first example worked when one firm helped; the second,  dozens. Both cases benefited volunteers. The first example allows a board member to introduce his employees to a local institution their boss values., the second the businesses’ bottom-line.

To use the In-Kind Mindset, stop thinking about in-kind as a source of entry-level tasks. Instead, be creative about the in-kind expertise you need and don’t limit your thinking to your geographic footprint. A world of experts is just a Zoom call away.

Consider your operations and needs. Could you use this In-Kind Mindset to solve an IT needs? Personnel issues? How about purchasing help? If you infrequently purchase vehicles, might expertise from a vehicle-orientated business get you a better price and streamline the process? What one-time or ongoing support might help you improve a task or tasks? Do you have any external process already in place that can, with tweaking, reduce your work either one time or on an ongoing basis?

As you think, consider how giving expertise helps the volunteers and potentially improves their lives? Will it increase their business or enhance their brand?

Remember that experts value their time. In the examples shared,  the volunteers provided services where they work. How could you offer the same easy access for your experts? If you eliminate the need to be in traffic, what help can you attract?

Adapt the In-Kind Mindset. You can obtain superior external expertise to help your nonprofit. How will you be more intentional about getting in-kind expertise?

Besides in-kind expertise, are you missing any other revenue opportunities? Find out. Check this list of 20 often missed nonprofit revenue opportunities.


Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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