Learning patterns/A short guide to in-kind donations

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A learning pattern forconferences
A short guide to in-kind donations
problemFinding sponsors for Wikimedia projects
solutionIn-kind donations are a low-treshold way of getting sponsoring for projects and can be the starting point for longstanding partnerships
created on13:43, 30 October 2015 (UTC)
status:in progress

What problem does this solve?[edit]

Diversifying funds is a challenge for many volunteer organizations. Financial support can be hard to come by for various reasons and usually often also creates additional workload (writing and reporting on grants, donor relations management etc.). Another way of cutting costs in a project or getting nice-to-have features for an activity are in-kind donations, i.e. donations that are done in goods and services rather than money/cash, which are usually comparably easy to obtain and manage and can also be a door opener to interesting partner organizations.

What is the solution?[edit]

Things to consider[edit]

In-kind donations should never be taken for granted and be handled and documented as carefully as any other donation.

  • Approaching potential donors and relationship management
    • Create a wishlist for your project with possible/desired in-kind donations and identify suitable donors (big and small organizations, other communities, individuals). Finding potential donors via personal networks and/or in a local context is often more promising than standard mailings to complete strangers.
    • Provide them with facts and figures about your project, your target audience, documentation of similiar activities in the past, mention your other partners and supporters but don't approach organizations which are direct competitors at the same time. Present your unique selling proposition (what makes you an interesting investment), e.g. Wikipedia as a strong brand, international character of the movement etc.
    • Is there something you can offer them in return (logo on your website / printed materials, posts on your social media channels, freely licensed pictures of their product/the event that they can use)
    • Send them a thank you note after the project, together with some pictures / links (to results, success stories, media coverage etc.) which demonstrate what you achieved.
    • Honor long-standing sponsors with a special treat (e.g. interview on your website, Christmas gifts such as photo calendars, invitation to events)
  • How to value in-kind donations
    • In-kind donations should be listed with a replacement value in your expense projection and reporting. Estimating the value of the donations can be done by
      • asking the donor,
      • applying the current market value of the respective good or service,
      • or using related surveys.
    • Some larger donations (expensive equipment) might have to be listed with their depreciation expense in your budget
    • A thorough documentation of your in-kind donations is important for reporting towards you board, members or donors. For this reason Wikimedia Austria further distinguishes between gross in-kind donations (total sum of all in kind donations) and net in-kind donations (total amount minus all goods and services which "nice to have" and not absolutely essential, i.e. only the sum which we would have had to spent ourselves without the donation).

When to use[edit]

From WMAT's experience, the following projects and activities work quite well for in-kind donations

  • Events (conferences, edit-a-thons, hackathons)
    • Venue (e.g. subsidised venues of public administrations or other charities, partner organization as hosts)
    • Catering (e.g. free sandwhiches from a bakery, free/cheap in-house catering of hosting organizations)
    • Gifts / material (e.g. pens, note pads, sweets for participants)
    • Facilitation (e.g. pro-bono facilitation of young professionals who look for practical experience)
    • Travel support for speakers and or participants
    • Public relations (professional PR support from institutional partners, media partnerships with newspapers or special interest magazines)
  • Photo / writing contests
    • Prizes (e.g. camera equipment from big companies, activities (free guided tours etc.) related to the topic of the contest)
    • Free access to books / literature from publishers
    • Sponosored award ceremony (see also section on events above)
    • Public relations (professional PR support from institutional partners, media partnerships with newspapers or special interest magazines)
  • Organizational development and capacity building
    • Pro-bono consulting on related topics (e.g. governance, financial management)
    • Pro-bono facilitation of chapter events
    • Pro-bono trainers for skill transfer workshops (e.g. on photography, writing skills, project management)


See also[edit]

Related patterns[edit]

External links[edit]