We are a 50-year-old social service agency mostly supported by government grants. We do have about 600 donors who help us every year and we do a reasonable job keeping in touch with them. We also have about 300 people who give us in-kind gifts and I have tried all kinds of solicitations to encourage them to give money as well as stuff, but I have had a really poor response. Someone said that you said in-kind donors often don’t become money donors. Is that true? Should I stop trying to convert them?
When entering a gift in FundRaiser, the Mode Code is used to differentiate not only between methods of payment (cash, check, charge, etc.) but also between monetary or in-kind donations. When you create a Mode Code you must specify whether that code will be monetary or in-kind. A Mode Code is always one or the other, and each gift requires a Mode Code. You may have multiple codes, as is usual in FundRaiser, which allows for specific types of in-kind donations. For instance, one of our users is a diaper bank, and, while they accept many infant-related types of in-kind donations, they need to keep diaper donations separated from others. The easiest way was to have, simply, a "diaper" Mode Code. When running various reports, you can specify to include monetary, or in-kind, or both types of donations. Use these codes to your advantage. And check out the Coding & Spare Fields training video in the Customer Portal section of our website.2. Use the Merge Notes for Descriptions
On each gift record is a "Letter Notes for Merging" section. It is primarily used for notes that will then be merged into thank you letter templates. And for monetary gifts, these are usually personal greetings, of sorts, like "Gee, it was great to see you", or "Glad to see you've recovered from surgery", or something else to more personalize the thank you letter. For In-Kind donations, this is a great place to put a description of the items (or services) that were donated. It makes a permanent record as well as an easy way to pull that description in to a thank you letter. More information on entering gifts is available in both the FundRaiser Overview and Recurring Gifts training videos available in the Customer Portal section of our website.
When you receive gifts of products, time and services, be aware that your organization can be held in even greater regard by donors of such In-Kind gifts, should you express your gratitude in a meaningful way—in a manner far and above how these contributions are usually acknowledged by non-profit organizations. This can be accomplished in strict keeping with the applicable IRS rules and regulations, which are especially explicit when it comes to In-Kind gifts and how non-profits handle them.
By law, non-profit organizations cannot provide a donor with the dollar value of an In-kind gift. Such valuations when applicable, relative to "fair market value" of In-Kind gifts, need to be professionally assessed and certified elsewhere—if they can be—and that is the responsibility of the donor. This certification subsequently needs to be resolved with the professionals and others who prepare the donor's tax forms—whose work in turn will need to be reconciled with IRS regulations. In instances where time and service are donated, no tax break whatsoever is allowed, as the IRS Publication 526 clearly states, "You cannot deduct the value of your time or services…"
It doesn't take much to include personal touches in a thank you letter template. You could mention the last gift they gave (date and/or amount), or the first time they gave, or the amount of support they've provided over the years. Different situations may call for different letter templates, and different groups of donors, but it's all possible in FundRaiser. And while you are thanking them, let them know what their contribution has done. What has your organization done since their last gift? How many people (or animals, or communities, or ??) has the organization helped in that time? This takes a bit of planning, so that you might have, for instance, a group of donors who have given, but not in the past 2 years, and another group who have given in the past 2 years, but not the past 6 months, and maybe another group who gave for the first time in the past 6 months, etc. You'll want different messages depending on the situation, but it's not that difficult to do, and the results will be a more personal approach to that "ask" for additional donations.2. Thank Often
Many non-profits are vying for the same donor dollars, and showing appreciation for past donations is important in ALL interactions with your donors. If you are sending an invitation to an event, THANK them for their previous gifts. If you are sending a newsletter, THANK them for their ongoing support. If you have a special funding need and are sending an appeal, THANK them in advance for their consideration and for sharing your needs with their friends, family, etc., but THANK THEM.
When your organization takes in donations of good or services, how do you record that donation? On the Gifts tab, when you enter in a donation, the Gift Mode code reflects the form that the donation took—how the money was received or if it was an In Kind donation. When you choose “In Kind” for your gift mode, this tells the database that the donation was received not as a financial transaction, but rather a donation of goods or services. The amount field can be the approximate value of those donations, and you can use your motivation and purpose codes to further categorize the donation.
Writing down an established work flow for entering gifts and name data after a fundraising event is one of single best things you can do to increase your donor management effectiveness. What's more, it creates a good working atmosphere and makes routine work a pleasure, even relaxing after the hectic pace of a fundraising event. What you need in your database will be put there effectively, free of unnecessary mistakes, or need to backtrack. Making it a regularly scheduled task is one great way to increase your all-around effectiveness. The frequency of the task, whether daily or weekly, will depend on the volume of gifts, of course, but it should be a part of the office routine.
Write it down as a task outline, laying the steps out in logical order. The ease of working will be a reward to continue doing the task. It also helps when the person who normally does the data entry is out sick, or is promoted to another position, or is otherwise taken out of the data entry picture. The person who takes over will appreciate having those steps in logical order, with hints, tips, and tricks in their appropriate places along the way. Here's a suggested flow that will work for most nonprofits. Adapt it as needed to make it right for your nonprofit's needs.