Communication Tips for Non-Cash Donations

Make the most of your communications.

Words matter. To maximize your noncash campaign and protect your organization and donors from any type of negative experience, you must choose language that sets clear expectation with a tone of positivity and transparency.

Communicating With Donors

How you communicate with donors and staff about noncash donations is critical. The last thing you want is to unintentionally leave the impression that your facility is a drop-off site for unwanted items or to upset donors when you cannot accept a donation.

As a general rule of thumb, when it comes to accepting noncash donations, if you can find it at a Goodwill, a garage sale, or a Flea Market, it likely cannot be donated. Assets that can be donated need to be of enough value to cover shipping and other costs related to its transfer and liquidation.

To help with this, we've compiled a short list of words and phrases that you should use, and some you should avoid.

Words and Phrases to Use

  • Vehicles: Cars, Motorcycles, RVs, Boats
  • Real Estate: Real Estate, Land, Investment Properties, House
  • Assets: Stock, Bonds, Commodities, Investments, Business Interest
  • General: High-value items

Words and Phrases to Avoid

  • Old
  • Used
  • Stuff
  • Junk
  • Lying around
  • Clutter
  • Outdated

Remember to keep the words you use consistent throughout your organization and communications. A single unified message helps your donors know what to expect and minimizes donation of items with little value to your organization. Always talk about donations like they are valuable because they truly are valuable to your organization!

When Talking About Estimated Value of Donations

In general, we recommend that you not talk about potential values of noncash assets. It is impossible to know proceeds in advance. You want to avoid setting low/high expectations or set your donors up for disappointment if their donation comes in lower than expected.

However, if you feel it necessary to talk about value of donations, make sure to say "estimated" or "average." You don't want your donors to feel like their donation is limited in value or that you promised their donation would be higher than it actually is. Be upfront about the fact that average donation values are exactly that: averages. This will help you maintain transparency with your donors.

When Talking About the Impact of a Donation

The word "You" is powerful. Focus on the impact the donor will make rather than talking about the impact the asset will make. Whenever possible, references to your organization should be in relation to what donors make possible. ("Your gift allowed us to..." rather than "We did this.") Speak in a way that shows donors they can really make a difference!