Product giving – the real value for charities: five benefits

Charlotte Walshe, Head of Charity Partnerships at In Kind Direct, provides an insight to product giving and describes its top five benefits.

Interest in the cost of fundraising continues, including this recent piece in Charity Financials. However, these pieces focus almost exclusively on funds raised, rather than the collected efforts, expenses and savings that other types of giving can bring.

Product giving is one way people can support charities that goes beyond writing a cheque. The beauty of this type of giving is that it can be anything – essential supplies, technology, food or any product which is either surplus to requirements or planned for donation. Like volunteering, the value of these donations often exceeds what a traditional donor might give as a cash donation. This is why people who volunteer their time can be worth their weight in gold!

In Kind Direct connects businesses and manufacturers with products to donate, to charitable organisations that need them. To date we have distributed £200 million worth of products ranging from toiletries, bedding and clothes to cleaning supplies and toys that may have been destined for landfill. FareShare, Tech Trust and International Health Partners do similar work with fresh food, technology services and medicine respectively.

Here are the top five benefits of product giving:

1. It fosters great relationships

When donors see their products in the hands of beneficiaries it can makes them even more generous. Seeing their gifts brought to life provides a direct link between what they produce and the difference donating makes.

2. Donors want to give more than money

At In Kind Direct, we know many companies’ Responsible Business programs look at the total philanthropic offer they make to communities (see our blog). This includes money, expertise and goods and whilst this trend means less funding may be on offer, the value of working with companies remains undeniable.

3. Products support service delivery

If you receive a bag of footballs, they will be used to deliver football sessions. They will be visible to both the donor and the beneficiary and their value goes into service delivery, not overheads.

4. However, they can also reduce your overheads!

Saving money delivering front-line services with donated products frees up actual cash to pay for things like office rent, salaries and insurance – those core costs that can be really hard to fund.

5. Product giving helps fundraising

The catchphrase of our sector could arguably be diversifying income. Funders regularly ask applicants to capture the value of volunteer hours and gifts-in-kind alongside usual funding streams. Product giving is a great way to demonstrate diversity, reducing the amount of money you need to ask for to deliver your work. In Kind Direct takes this one step further and delivers a multiplier effect. As a charity, we subsidise the cost of our service meaning network members could access on average £100 worth of products for around £20! That difference can also be used as matched funding.

Product giving brings tangible benefits beyond the goods themselves. It is a source of income, value and flexibility for charities of all sizes. It is something I believe organisations should really explore.

Find out more about In Kind Direct here