Q: We don’t have a wish list for in-kind items. What should we be sharing on tours? Do guests need an in-kind option to give to before they want to do more? We do get lots of questions about what kind of items we need in our housing (we build affordable housing).
Sarah in Minnesota
A: The Wish List is one of the two handouts people should receive at your Point of Entry (the other handout is the Fact Sheet). Your Wish List should highlight about ten non-monetary items that someone could contribute to benefit your organization.
We never want to list a dollar amount or ask for funding for a specific need on the Wish List. Short of that, you should consider any other volunteer role or tangible item that would truly make a difference for your organization!
The first item on your Wish List should be the volunteer role of serving as an Ambassador. This means hosting a private, invitation-only Point of Entry Event for ten or more guests. Given that all Point of Entry guests should be invited by Ambassadors, everyone at the Point of Entry will have a good role model for what it is to be an Ambassador. They will also be reminded during the event and in the follow-up call that being an Ambassador is the very best way people can help if they are inspired by what they learn at the Point of Entry.
To choose which items to include on your Wish List of ten items, it’s a good idea to interview your program staff, asking what they most need. While you might think of “in-kind” donations strictly as household items, children’s books, or something else that people have tucked away in their houses, your wish list can go beyond that. For example, consider items like:
- Bus passes/transportation cards
- A donated meal for a weekly support group that you sponsor
- Office supplies (printer paper or other supplies, or even new carpeting or furniture)
- Carpet or air-conditioning for your building
Be sure that the items on your Wish List are things you really need—because you will get them! And yes, as you implied, often an in-kind gift is a starter gift from a potential major donor. Take good care of these donors, inviting them back to see the difference their in-kind gift has made.
Finally, remember to refresh your Wish List two or three times a year as your wishes are granted.