For those of you who read my debut blog post, you may remember me mentioning that prior to my Volunteer Maryland AmeriCorps experience, I had no idea what an “in-kind” donation was. Thankfully, while attempting to successfully fulfill my duties as a Regional Coordinator (RC), I have remedied this situation.
Earlier in the year I managed to get Volunteer Maryland Staff and both Volunteer Maryland VMC and VISTA members a 20% off discount at all Nature’s Creations locations in Maryland. I felt good about getting my first in-kind donation but then put the in-kind donation solicitation on the backburner as I got busy with my job as an RC.
Well let’s just say a recent joint region meeting and the upcoming Mid-Year Retreat for the VMC program have put my in-kind donation solicitation into overdrive. For my joint region meeting in January, I was able to get a $20 gift card from Food Lion donated and as a result we had a feast, chowing down on vegetables and vegetable dip, chips, cookies, candy, juice and soda. Then, I began looking into prizes that we could raffle off at the Mid-Year Retreat to reward our VMC’s for their hard work and accomplishments thus far. Well since my attempt started approximately two weeks ago, I have now managed to secure three gift cards (I don’t want to reveal from where so as to not ruin the surprise)! Additionally, I was able to get two free pizzas donated from Dominos for my upcoming region meeting in February.
I feel really good about being able to effectively communicate why we need this free item or service, how we will use it and why they should consider making an in-kind donation in support of Volunteer Maryland. This brings me back to a memory I have of Pre-Service Training when Michael was giving a presentation on in-kind donations. I remember him saying, “Don’t be afraid to make the ask”. Well folks, I am going to second that statement. “Making the ask” is the hardest part and you are guaranteed to get nothing if you don’t reach out to potential donors. So why not give it a shot? You’ll find that most businesses are happy to support your non-profit organization or government agency, and have ample funding in their budget to do so. Your communication skills and confidence will improve, so go on and make the ask and please remember to come back and tell me all about it!