Barter a Nonprofit Donation

Recently, as president of a genealogical research company (outside my role at IB), I created a program for the Dane County Area Genealogical Society on advanced research techniques. The Society, in return, made the check for my fee payable to the Dane County Salvation Army. I then held onto that check until “match day” during the red kettle bell-ringing period, knowing I could double its value for the organization if I put it in a bucket then. That was a no-brainer.

If you — or a group of friends or your civic or church group — want insider tips on how to start or advance genealogical research, write a [minimum $75] check to the Salvation Army. You’d be getting a really reduced price for a solid program, and I’d be better leveraging the 30-plus hours already spent on that one-hour speech and PowerPoint program.

It doesn’t take a rocket science background to figure out that I can bring more value to the Salvation Army by bartering my talents than I can by donating that time directly to a soup kitchen. It’s all about “leveraging.”

Nonprofits of all sorts are really going to have to change to survive in this new economy. Nonprofit leadership knows that individuals have less money to give, and companies are cutting back on sponsored volunteer hours due to staff cutbacks. And, of course, municipalities are cutting supplementary services and funding at the same time. That’s a lose-lose-lose proposition. It’s also a challenge for people who believe in the impact and value of our area’s incredible nonprofit community.

Bartering a professional talent or skill for donation dollars is worth considering. I don’t have a personal budget that can any longer support others’ favorite causes (sponsoring runners, buying candy bars or raffle tickets, etc.) — things I’ve routinely done in the past out of friendship for the requesters. It was $10 here or $25 there. But no more. This year, given the Salvation Army’s greatest period of need, I’ve decided to direct my donation dollars there — and to my grandson’s parochial school — and to give more to those two … at a time I personally need to stick to a budget, too.

How can I do more with less? Only at the expense of other nonprofits … Sorry.

And even then, something has to give, in order for me to give at all, and that will be “personal time.” While it’s at a premium already, there is still a little “give” I could extend on behalf of my LLC — Glynn Patrick & Associates. The company writes and publishes family or company histories and also niche books (poetry, photography, etc.), though our specialty is high-level genealogical research.

Some of those jobs now will be converted to SA barter opportunities.

We do live in interesting times, my friends. But we are flexible and creative, and we can support the agencies we want to see standing in 2012. We just have to be innovative and commit ourselves differently to help them.

My advice to nonprofits, to garner that kind of loyalty from donors, is to:

  1. Be transparent regarding fund distributions or use appropriations
  2. Be as relevant as possible for your emotional giving stream (these donors tend to give the most). They respond to “mission talk” due to a personal stakeholder position. Mission talk also motivates staff, and volunteers (But caution: you want a motivational mix for board members).
  3. Make very clear, for your logical giving stream (“investors”), what the link is between their dollars and the work being done toward a societal/medical, etc. advancement. These givers tend to write smaller checks than emotional givers, but you can sway them to give more if they better see the value you bring.

What is the return on investment? They will want to be change agents.

Identifying measurable outcomes will be the most effective new marketing strategy for nonprofits to adopt in this new economy to capture new funds. Committed, responsible board governance is more critical than ever, too.

Now… who wants a $75 genealogy program? And a tax write off, too? Win-win.

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