It seems that most nonprofits have more needs than they have resources to fill. By creating a “wish list”, organizations present donors, volunteers, and prospects with specific ways they can engage. Typically, some items on a wish list can be fulfilled with a monetary gift, but most are usually items that are needed.
According to noted non-profit professional, Deane Brengle (blog), “Wish lists are not unheard of within the fundraising community. They are, however, an under-utilized resource available to all nonprofit organizations no matter what the size.”
Charities post wish lists and hope the items are hand-delivered to their doorsteps. While this may happen on occasion, it doesn’t happen as often as they’d wish. Increasing the likelihood of this happening, these organizations can provide additional, specific information. This includes a detailed description of the items in need, the number needed, and its value to the organization or beneficiary. By providing descriptive information, prospective supporters will have a distinct idea in mind of what to purchase.
Fundraising expert Sandy Rees (blog) believes “You can include literally anything on a Wish List – everything from cleaning products to refrigerators, vans, and forklifts! I would suggest including a range of items from toilet paper and copy paper on the low end to whatever you need on the high end. Nothing is too strange because you never know when someone reading your list will have just what you need.”
Customarily, donors go out and purchase, then deliver wish list items to the charities they choose to support. This will always be an opportunity. But that’s not the only way to transact wish list giving.
Perhaps the charitable organization would accept funds for the necessary items but, rather than the donor purchasing and delivering, the organization’s staff or volunteers could go out and purchase them on their own. While this takes time away from their daily routine, by doing their own purchasing, charity leaders are benefiting in other ways. At a minimum, this presents an opportunity to begin building sustainable relationships with merchants, likely discussing (or receiving) items at further discounted prices, and purchasing exactly what they need (as opposed to using what the donor delivers).
According to Sandy, “The easier you make it for a donor to act, the more likely they will.”
Fundraising through wish lists is not a new concept within the non-profit sector. However, if properly utilized, leveraged, and promoted, it can become an integral part of an organization’s private funding model.