Operating a nonprofit organization is a balancing act, where donated funds and routine expenses must balance out for the charity to continue operations. One of the larger expenses of running a nonprofit is the building where routine business, events and operations exist. One way to stave off the high costs associated with having a building is to secure a property through donations. Though not every request for such a big-ticket item will be met with success, you can solicit building owners until you find one willing to give your nonprofit the boost it needs to keep running.

Determine the built facility needs your charity or nonprofit requires. Make a list of the buildings you currently lease, rent or have access to. Note the costs associated with paying for the use of such facilities. For example, if you lease or rent a property, note the monthly and annual cost of having the building. Use these costs as a guideline for explaining the case for a building being donated to your organization.

Gather all documents relating to the daily and routine operations of your nonprofit. List all areas needed for the charity to function. Include office, warehouse, storage, community gathering and other spaces which require a built facility. For example, if your nonprofit deals with abandoned animals, note your facility needs as containing a welcome and reception area, housing area for animals, medical care area, supply storage areas and vehicle storage sections. Include rough square footage of a desired building based off of your current operations. If you are seeking a new building due to outgrowing your current location, note the extra space needed by calculating a growth percentage. For example, if your charity runs out of a 20,000 square foot building now, and continues to grow more than 10 percent annually, list your building requirements as being no more than 20,000 square feet and ideally 22,000 to 25,000 square feet.

Draft a letter requesting the donation of a building. Ask philanthropic building owners to donate a building for your nonprofit to use. State in the letter you are requesting a gift in the form of a building being signed over to the nonprofit. Understand and mention in the letter that your charity will be responsible for and undertake the costs associated with real estate taxes and required building insurance. Make the building owners understand your need and express your ability to become a responsible building owner and operator.

Give the potential donor options to advertise or garner recognition through the building donation. Offer to have the building names in honor of the person or have the charity advertising note the sponsor as a supporter of the nonprofit. Use this method when soliciting buildings from individual, joint and corporate donors.

Ask for building donations by driving around your local area and finding buildings available for sale, lease or rent. Look at buildings only in commercially zoned areas to ensure your charity will be able to operate legally out of the space. Inquire about each facility by contacting the real estate agent or broker listed for the property or by searching through available real estate ownership filings made available through state and county level government agencies.

Meet with all potential building donors in person, offering each one a personal and private tour of your current nonprofit operations. Contact as many building owners as possible, knowing that not every owner will donate a building, even though the tax benefits received will be substantial for the person, entity or group.

Things You Will Need
  • 503c Information (known and recognized nonprofit status paperwork)

  • Marketing material for the charity

  • Current building information (lease costs, rental rates)


Drive around with a notebook, taking notes regarding available buildings and keeping a running list of who has been contacted and what each person's response has been.


Do not ask for a donation, building, cash or other items, if you do not operate or have a legal designation of being a formal nonprofit organization; as recognized by your state and local authority.