Five alternative ways to give back

fundraising, FUNdraising Good Times, alternative giving, in-kind giving, loaned personnel, year-end givingThe giving season is upon us. For many nonprofits, hospitals, schools, and colleges the next three months are all about fundraising. You will no doubt see an increase in direct mail and e-mail solicitations, Facebook campaigns, bill boards, print and TV commercials and personal asks made by of you by friends, family members and associates. Some of us have the ability to be most generous. For most, giving is more constrained, focused on a few organizations we believe in. Here’s something to think about: extend your gift by giving more than money. Consider these five ideas:

  1. Serve as an advocate. Volunteer to write an editorial or a letter to your elected representative. Speak at a public event. Advocate through social media. Talk to people you know.
  2. Become a fundraising solicitor. For those organizations you donate to, consider volunteering to host a fundraising event; solicit friends, family and associates; or accompany a staff person or board member when he or she visits with donors and funders.
  3. Recruit and/or train volunteers. Learn what types of volunteers are needed and then work with staff – or on your own – to recruit and train people who can make a difference.
  4. Donate products, services and property. So many organizations depend on product donations. These include food banks, medical clinics, and schools to name a few. Find out what types of products are needed and offer to donate and encourage others to join you in doing so. This is an ideal way for businesses to give back. You can donate your airline miles, or your professional expertise. Consider writing a grant, reviewing an organization’s finances, human resource policies or legal documents. You can donate property, lease an office for no charge or below market rent. You can design a social media campaign or redesign a website. You can donate event planning services, printing or postage. Consider serving on a committee, or being a mentor. If you want to give back to your alma mater consider identifying students who could benefit from attending and help them through the application and financial aid processes.
  5. Provide loaned personnel. If you run a company you can loan your personnel to an organization you believe in. Learn what their needs are and consider loaning an employee who can provide the expertise in need.

There’s to no limit to the ways you can give. Be sure to first talk with someone at the nonprofit to learn what their needs are. You don’t want to donate time, property or services in a way that makes work for the organization, or doesn’t meet their needs. Ask how you can be of service. Don’t be offended if your services or products are not a fit: keep looking to find that organization who needs you.

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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