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How To Ask for Excess Inventory Donations as a Nonprofit

Nonprofits thrive on donations big and small. While most people associate the impact of a nonprofit organization with monetary donations, inventory donations can be just as important. 

Receiving excess inventory from a business is a great way for a nonprofit organization to procure the items it needs without having to spend its funds. It’s also beneficial for the businesses making the donations. These inventory contributions can be used as a tax write-off, and the business can get rid of stale inventory that’s wasting space. 

However, if you’ve been working for a nonprofit for a while, you already know it isn’t always easy to ask for things. Even if you have the confidence and right words to make it happen, it’s often taxing to follow up with businesses and make sure they follow through. 

Let’s take a closer look at why inventory donations are so important — and some of the best practices for getting those donations from willing businesses. 

Why Inventory Donations Matter

Depending on the nature of your nonprofit organization, inventory donations can often be stretched further than monetary gifts. Many organizations need furniture, household appliances, and other everyday-living items for people who are homeless or without income. These donations can also help with different kinds of sober-living housing options, as well as temporary housing and shelters for individuals escaping abuse and domestic violence.

Temporary housing can make a huge difference in addiction recovery. Monetary donations for sober living and similar facilities often go toward:

  • Bedding;
  • Paper products (toilet paper, paper towels);
  • Soaps;
  • Cleaning utensils;
  • Lawn equipment.

When your organization can take in inventory donations for these things, monetary donations can be used to help in other ways such as rehabilitation programs, grocery gift cards, and more. Inventory donations can also be used to help people like abuse victims or those with mental health conditions that may be trying to get back on their feet. 

Inventory donations tend to bridge the gap between major donations and small fundraisers. They can serve as a type of mid-level giving that offers more consistency, so the people you’re trying to help don’t always have to wait for the assistance they need. 

Getting Businesses To See the Benefits

Most businesses know that it’s good to donate to different charities and worthwhile organizations. However, it’s often easier for them to write a check rather than give away something tangible. Getting them to see how donating excess inventory could benefit them is a fantastic way to get the “yes” you’re looking for. Some of the biggest benefits of donating for businesses include:

  • A more philanthropic appearance to customers;
  • Expanded corporate social responsibility;
  • Tax benefits;
  • Healthy relationships with nonprofits.

Businesses can also clear away inventory that wasn’t getting used, so they’ll save money on storage and have more room for newer items. Additionally, having excess inventory can be bad for the environment. In today’s sustainability-driven world, most businesses are trying to find ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Excess inventory leads to waste. By pointing that out to businesses, they’ll be more likely to let you take it off their hands. 

Best Practices for Donation Inquiries

After showing businesses how you can both benefit from inventory donations, there are still some best practices to keep in mind. If you’re able to meet with a representative from the business in person, do your research. Your goal should be to form a relationship with that business — rather than rely on a one-time donation. 

Even if you’re speaking over the phone, try to keep things personal. It’s okay to have a script, but you don’t want to come across as stiff or cold. Listen to the person on the other end and be prepared to answer questions. 

It’s not uncommon for a business to want to know what their inventory will be used for. If you want to successfully secure inventory donations, it’s important to be able to answer that key question. It also allows you to share more about your organization, what you do, and who you help. When you share that story, it will help to foster a more personal connection between your organization and that business. This may even help you retain donors in the long term.

Following Up To Secure Donations

Finally, you might consider asking for inventory donations through letters. It’s an efficient and effective way to reach multiple businesses at once and gives each business time to consider what they might be able to give. Your letter should be personal, share an impactful story, and contain a sincere appeal that springs each business into action. Make sure to have your contact information printed either at the top or bottom of the letter so each business knows how to get a hold of you quickly. 

At the end of the day, most business owners want to do the right thing. They understand the importance of charitable donations but may not be used to donating items that are sitting in inventory. It’s okay to reach out a few times to make your message heard — just don’t go overboard with requests. Instead, make the benefits clear, showing sincerity and perseverance in your objectives to get the “yes” you need to make a difference in the lives of the people you’re trying to help. 

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Nonprofit Fundraising
Nonprofit Tips
Nonprofits
Amanda Winstead

Amanda Winstead is a writer from the Portland area with a background in communications and a passion for telling stories. Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts. If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter.