In-kind contributions can infuse your programming and program staff team with meaningful support, fun, and connection that would otherwise be outside of the scope of the program budget!

For example, contributions of material goods for program workshops, client gatherings, and holiday celebrations can take the load off of the program budget while also symbolically communicating to the program participants that they are important. Likewise, for program staff teams, occasional meals at staff meetings, gifts, and holiday gift certificates can remind them of the organization’s concern for, and appreciate of, their work.

If your program budget can’t cover these symbolic ways to communicate concern and appreciation, check-out the ideas below!

Also, the businesses that you are targeting for in-kind donations need ways to live-out their own missions and community impact.


Through partnering with your organization, you are offering businesses an opportunity to move their own mission forward.

Tip 1

Think creatively about what brings people joy while also meeting the practical needs of the program such as surprise gifts, unexpected meals, and surprise trips.

Tip 2

Always show thanks for the in-kind contributions by sending a formal letter, setting-up three-days of social media blasts, recognizing the contributions in the organizational annual report, and annually sending a card with updates about accomplishments of the program (i.e. stay in touch).

How to Get Started

Make sure to keep at the forefront of your mind that through requesting in-kind donations, you are creating opportunities for companies to plug into your important mission. Here are seven initial septs to take:

1|  Use company letterhead

2 |  Address the person who would make this decision who is often a “community engagement manager” (i.e. you can call and ask the company in advance)

3 | Include dates of the event or when you will use the items

4| Explain how the donation advances the bigger cause or mission of the organization

5|  Explain the alignment between the company’s mission and the bigger cause

6 |  Include your 501(c) 3 tax ID number

7 |  Keep following up until you have received an answer

Examples of In-Kind Contributions for Programming Contexts

Check-out the examples below and several more such as those of Volunteer Maryland, Action Center, and Jewish Volunteer Connection!

(a) Trader Joes sometimes donates free flowers that are great for centerpieces at galas or a surprise for residents or staff at your offices

(b) Costco typically gives $25 gift cards which can be helpful for purchasing snacks for your event

(c) Day old pastries from bakeries are often free, the pastries save wasted food from landfills, and offer a delicious accent to program activities.

(d) Make a request through on Social Media as your followers may have just what you need lying unused

Why did we develop 2 Tips videos?

We know that many professionals and organizational leaders do not have the funds to partner with specialists (like us) and/or the time to strategize on what might seem like extra projects.

We launched these 2 Tips videos to support you with making tweaks, adjustments, and refinements in programs and operations — doable for busy professionals like you!


Katie Kellett