In-kind Donations: A Nonprofit Attorney's Perspective


In the course of our work at Boardable, we have the pleasure of meeting professionals like Zac Kester. Zac, a nonprofit attorney, writes about legal issues and considerations for Charitable Allies' blog and Zac's article about in-kind donations has become a go-to resource. Highlights include:

In-kind donations generally fall into one of three categories: (1) direct payment by a donor of bill owed by the charity to a third party, (2) donations of goods or (3) donations of services.

For in-kind donations, the responsibility is on the donor to value the donation. Nevertheless, the nonprofit may also desire to state something like “were it not for your donation, we would have had to expend $________ to procure such an item.” This can be helpful as a fundraising tool when making major donor lists, for example.

When fielding questions specific to the progress that small nonprofit boards strive to make, we reach out to our colleagues who have expertise in particular areas. As we pick up tips that may be of value, we'll share them here and give a shout-out to the expert.

Maximizing community impact

Board obligations vary from organization to organization depending on the board’s structure and mission. Research has shown how difficult it can be to recruit a diverse board for nonprofit organizations. In addition to recruitment, on-boarding new members can be a time consuming process. It is critical to state board obligations and to clearly communicate how the board and nonprofit is going to make an impact in the community.

We came across a recent article from Matthew Downey, Director of Nonprofit Services at the Johnson Center, titled “The Board Recruitment Dilemma: A community problem that needs a community solution.” Downey articulates the current challenges and obstacles that nonprofit boards face today.

“Essentially we’re asking board members to function in a job they were never prepared for, choosing and monitoring strategies for issues they struggle to understand, all while managing professional and personal lives largely disconnected from their board member role.”

Downey highlights how impactful nonprofit boards can be and how the health of these boards is really an indicator of the health of the community. He emphasizes how relationships that are formed within the board rooms of the community can directly impact the community’s economic viability. The article ends with two thought provoking questions:

“Is it possible that nonprofits play roles in communities that go well beyond the services provided by programming? Do nonprofits, by way of community leadership and relationships in their board rooms, serve as mechanisms that encourage a community’s economic viability?
And if the answer to those questions is “yes,” then we must seriously reconsider how we develop our local talent and leadership through board service. If we are to succeed and contribute to the sustainability of our neighborhoods, we must start leveraging our relationships to curate community-level solutions to this and other sector-wide issues.”

Here at Boardable we wholeheartedly believe that the work that nonprofits are doing goes beyond the services that they are providing. This company was started to build a product that could help alleviate some of the issues that Downey describes so accurately. We are a software company but first and foremost we are a local Indianapolis business with a mission to strengthen this community through technology and thought leadership.  

So let’s work and create together. If you are looking to join a board and aren’t sure where to start, we can help with that. If you are currently serving on a board and want to see if Boardable could help create a quality board experience for your organization, we would be happy to talk. If you aren’t looking for technology as a solution but have knowledge to share with the community we’d love to help you share.


Got Tips? Board Recruitment & Engagement


Here is a guide on how to recruit and engage new members. These tips were accumulated from colleagues, nonprofit consulting agencies and market research. Let the recruiting begin!



  1. Determine what skills, qualities, diversity, and community representation is needed for a strong board. 

    • Create and regularly update a rubric that tracks all of these items against current members' terms, and identity areas of future need. This tool should look forward at least three years. 

    • Invite board members and staff leadership to identify potential board candidates. 

      • Nominations can be submitted through a document asking questions about leadership qualities, passions, experience and future goals.  

  2. Meet and get to know potential a board member through a personal interview. Even better, include him/her in an organizational committee, volunteer activity, or other event (perhaps allow them to sit in on a board meeting?) 

    • Give the candidate a document explaining the responsibility of the Board as a whole, read this article by The Bridgespan Group.

    • Then another document that clearly outlines the responsibility required of the individual board member.

  3. Once recruited, and before inducted, begin orientation. This can be done a number of ways - providing materials such as a board manual (binder), adding the new member to your board management platform, matching each new person with a mentor from the current board, inviting to organizational event, etc. 

  4. Provide a formal orientation after induction. 

    • A formal orientation program is critical. Whether it’s a two-hour session or a two-day session, providing an overview of the organization’s history, evolution, philosophies, staffing, finances, etc is key. 

    • This is also a time to review the responsibilities of board members vs. staff. This sets a critical foundation for governance best practice and allows new board members to jump into meetings with a stronger knowledge base.

    • Here is a new board orientation checklist created by BoardSource to be sure you have a successful transition.

  5. Create a task for new members to accomplish as a team. This will help them bond with each other, and become engaged early in their tenure. 


Do you or your organizations have any other tips or suggestions on best practices with Board recruitment? If you would like to see a demo of how Boardable can facilitate many of these steps, schedule one today!


NonProfits & B2B SaaS


Thanks to a generous introduction from Una Osili, I recently met another east coast-to-Indy transplant couple who work in the nonprofit space. As we compared notes of CT, NY, DC, PA, MA, and CA, we discussed what a business strategist might call competitive advantage of the cities we’ve inhabited. Boston and New Haven: academic braintrusts. DC and NYC: decision-making epicenters. Philly: cultural & creative economies accelerated by ecosystems like CultureWorks/Trust and devotion to history. Oakland: bike-363-days-per-year-weather. (There is always one hot day and one cold day that fall outside the standard deviation.)

The surprise (for me) Venn diagram of Indy, which I propose is a competitive advantage, is the overlap of density in 1) nonprofits, 2) B2B SaaS startups, 3) volunteer culture, and 4) academic leadership in philanthropy. During the past few months, I have had the pleasure to work with a brilliant product manager who shares fascination of exploring this space where tech startups intersect nonprofit needs. We are hypothesizing that there are others locally who spend time thinking about this. Care to join us and talk shop?