While it’s not uncommon to hear about clothing or food drives for area nonprofits, you can plan a drive to collect virtually anything for your favorite charity. Another twist is to plan a swap, where people can donate what they no longer need and/or select what they want from those items. Even though it’s called a “swap,” people can typically choose items even if they didn’t donate anything. The point is to get people what they need.
You can get creative with these events—and they can be a lot of fun. Some ideas may include:
• Holding a diaper drive for a local childcare or family charity
• Working with a local youth charity to hold a sporting goods swap
• Planning a book swap at your local library or with a local literacy nonprofit
• Collecting coats, hats, and gloves to donate to a local homeless shelter
• Adding a food drive to a get-together or youth sporting event
• Providing a drop-off space for items needed by your local animal shelter
Planning a drive or a swap is relatively easy. Follow these five steps.
You want to be sure you’re putting your efforts in the right place. If you’re doing a drive, ask for a list of items the charity needs or wants. If you’re doing a swap, find out the types of items that the service audience typically needs. Then, plan and publicize your event to focus on those needed or wanted items. Work with the charity to determine the best time to hold the event and other details, such as how the event or drop off will be handled.
Drives and swaps differ in how they’re structured. Typically, drives work best when you collect items over a period of time such as a few days or a week, at specific drop-off locations. Swaps are usually held on a specific day and time, although items may be dropped off beforehand for setup in some cases.
If you’re going to do a drive, decide on one or more drop-off locations for items. You may have collection boxes at specific areas like public buildings, stores, offices, or other easily accessible places. To be safe, do not publicize your home address to people you don’t know. And be sure to practice the latest health safety protocols. For a swap, you’ll need enough space and tables to set up the items that are donated.
There are many ways to help people learn about your event. Send information to local media, post information on social media, and send information out to the charity’s email list. Posting flyers (with permission, of course) at highly trafficked locations such as supermarkets is also a good idea. The more you can get the word out, the better your turnout is likely to be.
Be sure to work with the nonprofit on any documentation or requirements to partner with them on the event. And be sure to save details about your success and track record, especially if you plan on holding your event more than once. You can use your past successes to promote your future events.