Securing In-Kind Donations is Based on Relationship Building

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Asking someone for support through an in-kind donation can be difficult, but most people respond more favorably to an individual conversation rather than a standard newsletter or email campaign. Developing relationships is essential to building a network of donors. Your network can include friends, business owners, co-workers or community members. Having a wide variety of people in your network can expand the different types of in-kind donations. Building and establishing strong relationships with a variety of people in your network can help you identify who are the right people to work with when the time comes to make a request for a donation. When a relationship has been built and common ground established, asking for a donation will be much easier.

It is much easier to ask for a donation when you know who you are asking.

The process for securing an in-kind donation is the same as the process used for securing monetary donations.

  1. Develop positive relationships with local businesses and people. These relationships are integral to securing a donation.
  2. Do your research to determine your target audience.  This is typically made up of the people who care about you and your mission, but might also be an organization or individual looking to get rid of unwanted items.
  3. Be prepared. Have an introduction to your organization ready to go, and know what you are asking for before the meeting begins. This is your “stump speech” to get people interested.
  4. Ask. It’s tough, but you have to do it.
  5. Be flexible and gracious. If someone says your mission does not match their goals, work with them to find a common ground.


It is much easier to ask for a donation when the person you are asking knows you and shares the values and mission of your organization. Additional information also increases donors’ interest and support as they learn of the problems they can solve through in-kind donations. 

When you target the right people, it is much easier to develop the relationship into donations.

Many use the “ABC” (ability, belief, contact) approach for identifying prospects. The actual order of importance is “C-B-A.” First, utilize your existing contacts to determine if there are any prospects. Expand to the next level in your network; perhaps you have something in common with these people, maybe you both know another donor, or maybe the prospect knows someone in your organization socially or professionally.

Many prospects believe in your cause-and a big part of that is being able to see how a gift might affect them, their community, or those they care about. Consider how you can bring your cause closer to the prospect’s personal experience. In terms of ability, keep in mind that many organizations, groups, or individuals may not be able to provide a large quantity of items; but rather, many can utilize their abilities to donate time to your organization.

Asking may be one of the most difficult things you can do, but it is also the most important.

The first step to asking for donations is creating a stump speech, which is how you will get your foot in the door. This includes introducing the organization, laying out the problem to be solved, and possible solutions. This should be done by individuals who have a passion for the situation with rational and logical communication. Individuals who take on this task should be consistent in their approach and follow the guidelines set forth by the organization.

The approach to solicitation can be quite varied even though everyone has the same stump speech to work from. First, each person should have an engaging opening to establish common ground. They should use open-ended questions to discuss the potential donor’s interest in the organization. The person asking for donations should always remain faithful to him/herself and the organization using the skills they feel most comfortable with.

Click to open interactivity Tips for the ask.

Tips for the ask.

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