In just two weeks, with minimal little prep work, you can make a huge impact on a cause you care about — and have a blast while doing it.
That’s the promise of hosting and organizing `a donation drive. They’re a great way to rally a group around a cause you all care about, whether that’s your weekend team, your family, your block or your office. As organizer, you might have to register your group and promote it a bit, but you can always enlist help preparing the donation and dropping it off. And don’t forget to take lots of photos along the way: Everyone loves to see a big pile of donated goods as a reward for their work and generosity. If you need more encouragement, see these six reasons to host a donation drive now.
1. You can turn just about any celebration into a drive.
A work colleague recently turned her birthday party into a benefit for Operation Gratitude. She asked friends to bring in items off their care-package wish lists and then, at the party, she invited them to write thank-you letters, all of which would be shipped off to deployed troops, new recruits, veterans, and wounded heroes. (See the result of her drive, left.) Everyone enjoyed it and it added a little more meaning to the celebration.
2. Not only can kids help, they’re also really good at it.
One of the holy grails of volunteering and doing good is an activity the whole family can participate in. That’s what’s so great about drives — kids are really good at it! They can shake-down everyone they know for donations (believe me, you cannot say no to a kid asking you to donate something), carry stuff, sort it, put it in boxes and even write little notes. Get them involved in Coats for Kids, and they could even win a prize. From Nov. 14 – 30, schools can compete to see who brings in the most coats. The winning teams get to be part of the live broadcast on KVET and get an award for their work.
3. Some organizations even provide you with a “kit” for everything you need to host a drive.
The Central Texas Food Bank has this system down. All you have to do is register your drive online and the food bank will provide you with boxes to collect donations, promotional materials and a set of instructions and ideas. Really, it couldn’t be easier.
4. Your donors don’t have to spend a dime if they don’t want to.
While cash is always the best donation (because often nonprofits can get more items for their money if they’ve arranged for discounts) and new is the next-best thing, there are plenty of causes that can get a lot of use from your “gently used” items. For example, you could organize a gently-used book drive for BookSpring, which accepts all kinds of books for children and young adults. BookSpring gives you all the materials you need to get started, and lets you drop off anytime during business hours.
5. Even pets can get involved.
Well, maybe not pets. But certainly pet owners can organize a drive for animals in shelters. Most pet owners can grab a little more food, litter or treats while they’re picking some up for their beloved pet, and it’s a great activity for your dog-park or neighborhood group. The Austin Animal Center or the Williamson County Animal Shelter accept all that plus collars, leashes, bedding, toys houses and crates, and more. To promote it, consider a flyer with a photo of your pet. Cuteness goes a long way in getting people to donate! (See number two, above.)
6. Your donations can help rebuild someone’s life.
A couple of weeks ago, I hosted a clothes swap for a group of ladies at my house, and while it was a blast (and I picked up enough to give my fall wardrobe a boost), one of the best parts was seeing mounds of great clothing donated to SafePlace, a local women’s shelter. The idea of a clothes swap is to have everyone bring over clothes that aren’t quite right for them and offer them to everyone else. It felt great to think that our donations might help another Austin woman, who probably had to leave her clothes behind to find safety. Here’s hoping our jackets, pants, sweaters and skirts help put another woman back on her feet.
Just about anything you can donate can be the focus of a donation drive. Get creative and look for more ways to rally your group.