Implementation Month: In-Kind Donations

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This January Rural Resurrection is celebrating the third annual National Implementation Month! So let the festivities begin! But where do you start? Funding is often discussed in implementation, but not so much in-kind donations. But in-kind donations are important in many towns where funding is tight.

Money is tight in small towns. When trying to complete a project in a small town, funding is almost always a key aspect as the success or failure to complete a project. To make projects work, a number of communities turn to grants to help fund the work to be done. If you have a good enough grant writer, grants can be a great resource to pull from.

However, most grants require a certain amount of matching funds. They rarely fund the entire project cost. For some communities, scrounging up the funds for even that smaller local match is problematic.

But that’s where in-kind donations can come in. In-kind donations are non-monetary donations that can take the place of an actual cash match if some grants allow for it. For instance, if you are working on some improvements to an existing, your public works department may be able to do the site grading. The value of this work would then be counted toward the total project cost and as part of the local match. This in turn reduces the amount of cash match the community would need to put in.

Putting a dollar figure to the value of that work may be a little tough. However, if you have a consultant that put together an estimate for the project cost, it may be already itemized out in that estimate.

Help from the Local Business Community

Help from the local business community can also be a key in-kind contributor to your project. It is possible that you have a contractor selected to do the work related to your project. With a little prodding, they may be able to submit a letter that can be attached to your grant application that states that they will complete a certain part of the project “in-kind”. But remember it is important to put a dollar figure to that contribution within the letter for the granting organization to see.

Or you may have a local supplier that may agree to provide a park bench. A local nursery may donate some of the plantings as in-kind donations to a project. The value of these tangible items is often quite available and can be easily counted towards the local match if the granting organization allows it.

Role of Community Foundations

Community foundations can have a great impact on your grant application’s success as well. First of all, it is good to have your local community foundation involved to show support for the project. But having them involved as the in-kind pass-through shows buy-in from them as well. This is much more impactful than a letter of support. But they can also be a good pass-through for in-kind donations. Many states have limitations as to how much in “gifts” a community can receive in private contributions. This is where community foundations can serve as a pass-through entity to make it work.

In-kind donations to a community foundation are often tax-deductible if done right. This is a big lure for potential donors to your project. If they can receive a tax deduction through their donation to the project, private entities are often much more likely to donate.

In-Kind Contributions are Important

Regardless of how badly your community needs in-kind contributions to meet the match requirements for a grant application, they are important. They help make a project work from a financial standpoint. But they also show local buy-in to the granting institution. Moreso, they are also a good way of building local support for the project. Investment from your local community in a project is also a sign of their investment in your community as well.