Beg, borrow and barter
High Country Business Review
A healthy business community is directly proportional to services that nonprofits provide, according to Kara Heidi, manager of corporate contributions at Vail Resorts.
As a result, plenty of companies are willing to support the arts, recreation and other services with in-kind donations.
If it weren’t for those noncash donations ” everything from gear to passes to meals ” most nonprofits would not be able to survive.
For instance, the Avon-based Snowboard Outreach Society (SOS) receives approximately $1.5 million in in-kind donations and only $400,000 in cash per year.
Vail Resorts provides more than $750,000 in in-kind donations per year. As Heidi points out, not all needs are driven by dollars.
For-profit companies provide everything a kid needs to succeed on the mountain ” from lift tickets to gear and clothing.
“We couldn’t exist (without it) because we couldn’t pay retail value for lift tickets, and we couldn’t pay retail value for gear,” said Seth Ehrlich, SOS development director.
Trades and in-kinds make up about 20 percent of the National Repertory Orchestra’s (NRO) budget, and executive director Kerry Farrell said it would be “virtually impossible” to put on the festival without in-kind donations.
“Trades are at least a part of every transaction we do,” Farrell said.
For example, Ski Village Resorts provides a large number of rooms to house young musicians in Breckenridge, so the company gets named as the sponsor of a specific concert and mentioned in the program. It also receives tickets to shows.
Probably the biggest in-kind donation the NRO receives is use of the Riverwalk Center, through the town. Breckenridge benefits because it relies on festivals such as the NRO to bring people to town. The pianos come on loan for the summer from Wells Music and Yamaha, in exchange for recognition in the program.
Ads in festival programs are a large motivation for many businesses. Images of Nature will host a reception later this summer for the NRO in exchange for an ad. In the Vail Valley, restaurants do the same for the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival.
Trades with newspapers, magazines, radio and television ” running print and broadcast ads in exchange for ads in the event program ” save Bravo! approximately $100,000, per year said Rachel Packer, Bravo! director of public relations and marketing.
“As a nonprofit, we expect all the work we do to be donated or to work out some kind of trade ” it’s the only way to do events,” she said.
Sometimes the nonprofits that receive also give to other organizations, which turns out to be serendipitous for both. For example, The NRO donated a fundraising concert to help the Summit Medical Center purchase a digital mammography machine. Through the hospital, the NRO linked up with The Cellar in Breckenridge.
The NRO ended up giving The Cellar 100 free tickets so people could dine at the restaurant, then see a free show. Now it has a business relationship with The Cellar for future trades.
“As much as it benefits us, it benefits them,” Packer said.
Companies that don’t receive free tickets get public recognition that sometimes can’t be bought. For example, SOS has more than 500 adult volunteers nationwide who help kids learn to snowboard. Ehrlich said when the volunteers see various companies’ gear on the kids ” all of it donated ” those brand names are their minds when they purchase their own equipment ” plus, buyers often want to support “good” companies who support the community, he said.
Resorts also can benefit by providing free lift tickets to SOS because they introduce kids from a variety of social and ethnic backgrounds to snowboarding.
Companies such as Vail Resorts also provide indispensable services for nonprofits.
Vail Resorts provides professional assistance, such as legal advice, accounting or development guidance. If a nonprofit is beginning a capital campaign, it may ask to run its design past a professional at Vail Resorts. Summit County Preschool in Frisco used the development department to help improve its playground design.
“We encourage nonprofits to think out of the box and explore a wide variety of revenue services,” Heide said. “We want to know, ‘How can we contribute to getting you there?'”