How to Request In-Kind Donations
Helping make a National Public Lands Day event a success does not always require getting your hands dirty. Local businesses and stores can make a huge impact through donations of in-kind goods and services. By receiving donations such as tools, supplies or food, public land managers and friends groups can host bigger events that result in more work done. In return, groups can recognize or publicize the donations.
A major limiting factor while planning a NPLD event is often the budget. Businesses can step in to help fill financial gaps through in-kind support. This support can lead to more successful restoration projects, attracting more volunteers and improving the overall experience for the volunteers.
My NPLD event would benefit from in-kind support. Where do I begin?
Donation efforts can begin as much as 5-6 months before the event. The more time you give for implementing the effort, the more businesses you will reach and hopefully, the more in-kind donations you will receive.
You need to do some research before starting. Make a list of all the goods and services your event absolutely needs and a separate list containing optional “wants”. A “want” can be anything that would be great to have, but not necessary to have a successful event. Take your list and check off what items you have on hand and those you need to request in the donation effort.
Requesting in-kind donations
At least two months before your event, identify nearby businesses that may donate in-kind services. When requesting goods and services, one size does not fit all. Target your request letters to the unique services provided by each business. Examples include:
- Grocery stores or restaurants can donate food supplies for snacks, breakfast or lunch. Invite them to cook a barbecue at the public land. The volunteers will be very grateful for the food and it gives an opportunity for volunteers to become familiar with the business.
- Hardware stores often have tools for loan for the general public. Request the store loan power tools as an in-kind donation. A hardware store can also supply garbage bags, native plants or shovels.
- Clothing stores can provide free or discounted hats or t-shirts to volunteers. T-shirts printed with information about the event are a great thank-you gift to volunteers.
- Outdoor retailers can loan recreational gear to the event or host activities to engage volunteers after they finish their service. Last year, 53 REI stores supported NPLD sites by donating camping and recreational gear, T-shirts, food and in-kind advertising services.
An in-kind donation request letter should include:
- Introduction - who are you?
- What are you doing on National Public Lands Day?
- An overview of National Public Lands Day. View a brief description of NPLD and download the NPLD logo to use in your letter. Make it clear why this event is important to the public land, the community and the volunteers.
- Your request to receive in-kind donations.
- Descriptions of the possible in-kind goods or services the business can donate. Target your request to the business.
- A list of the reasons why the business would benefit from donating in-kind goods or services to your event. Common reasons include: increased exposure to volunteers, public lands staff and park visitors and recognition as a philanthropic company within the local community.
- A list of what benefits your public land/ organization will provide in return for the donation. Common benefits include: their logo or company name on promotional materials, the opportunity to place a banner or sign on display during the day’s activities, mention of the company during radio ads and the opening ceremonies and distribution of company coupons or advertisement to volunteers.
- Thank the company in advance and provide your contact information. Invite the staff to participate in the volunteer event.
Call each store a week or so after the letters have been mailed and ask to speak to the owner or manager. Follow up about your needs and how appreciative your volunteers will be.
The best advice we can give to those seeking in-kind donations: DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK! Even if a business says no now, they may be able to donate in the future to a different event. Make yourself memorable, and next year, you could turn a no into a yes. It is also important to remember that any business has the potential to donate to your event. Do not limit yourself to outdoor companies or the food service industry; a beauty salon can be just as supportive as the local grocery.
Do not forget to invite employees to volunteer at your event at the same time you are asking for in-kind donations. Some businesses may not be able to give a donation, but would like to encourage staff to volunteer time. Explain to the business that spending time together outside of work builds camaraderie, encourages team work and helps to alleviate stress for employees.
After National Public Lands Day
Send thank you letters (with pictures, if available) to each business that donated. Make the letters unique highlighting how their contribution improved the day’s activities. If your company is on social media, you could also mention each business and link to their webpage.
Keep in touch with the business in the months between NPLD 2012 and NPLD 2013. Hopefully, you will build a relationship with the business that will eliminate the need for future donation efforts!
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Volunteer with Friends Groups
Friends Groups are local nonprofit organizations that support public lands. Many Friends Groups lead volunteer events to restore parks, green spaces and community gardens. Learn more about the over 200 Friends Groups that participated in National Public Lands Day 2012 and how you can get involved.
NPLD Supports Let’s Move Outside
Participating in NPLD is a great way to get the recommended 60 minutes of daily activity, while you lend a hand for public lands. Learn more about Let’s Move Outside and how NPLD is involved in the national movement.