Before the end-of-year holidays ramp up, corporate social impact leaders can be found hard at work finalizing their plans to host a donation drive that benefits their employer’s nonprofit partners. While useful during many times of the year, donation drives tap into the generosity of the holiday season and become creative ways to support the communities where employees live and work.
If your donation drive includes the collection of gently used items such as business attire for organizations like Dress for Success, you and your colleagues are helping to keep items out of landfills and redirect them to those who can benefit from their use.
We’ve put together a checklist to help you get started planning a donation drive for your colleagues. Add these tips to your employee champion resources should they be responsible for planning a donation drive in their market.
Before your donation drive begins
Determine which community needs will be addressed by your donation drive; Then identify the nonprofit organizations you’d like to support
Contact those agencies to determine what they need and identify whether any needs are more critical than others. Decide in consultation with these partners which items will be collected and make sure you understand any limitations (i.e., what they don’t need), any specific guidelines about clothing and how much they can store once donations are delivered.
Engage a planning committee in setting goals and how to measure progress
You could decide to set a goal for gathering a certain number of items, collecting specific tons of food or reaching out to a specific number of people. Think realistically about these goals and what might influence them; you don’t want to overpromise and underdeliver. Then keep track of how you are doing and designate someone to be responsible for updating the group on how you are progressing toward your goals.
Organize logistics and set your plans into motion
Determine the duration of the drive; often a donation drive will last two to three weeks to give employees ample time to gather the items requested and make a plan for drop-off. Develop your internal communications plan to last the duration of the drive and include a variety of messaging and formats. Make sure the communications include the reasons why these items are needed, who they will benefit, your goals and any guidelines specific to the items requested. You’ll also need to arrange for supplies that you might need including collection bins or boxes if not provided, storage space for donated items and any incentives you might employ. Don’t forget to coordinate with your buildings’ facilities team to find the right space for the collection and storage of items to occur. Plan to collect items in highly visible but fire-code-safe locations.
Consider these options:
- Single-site drop off: You ask employees in each market to bring donations to one location during set hours on a specific day. You may need to recruit additional volunteers to ensure the collection site and process runs smoothly.
- Extended donation drive: It might be more convenient to set up multiple collection points with drop boxes where people can leave their donations over the course of multiple days or weeks. Volunteers can collect the donations once per day and transfer them to storage or deliver them to partners if requested.
Plan accordingly if many of your colleagues are now hybrid or fully remote
Make sure they know where and when to drop off donations so they feel included in the opportunity to support their community. You might also consider promoting your partners’ “online wish lists” if you feel that some employees would prefer to donate those requested items, whether they are in the office or work fully remote.
During your donation drive
Remind and motivate employees to support the donation drive
Consider creating a friendly competition among departments, floors or locations. Keep track of which location gathers the most items. Record which individual or team contributes the most items. Recognize the donors with bragging rights or small rewards. Always keep in mind that no one should feel pressured to give so keep any competitions or incentives light-hearted.
Monitor and showcase the progress employees are making toward achieving the drive’s goals
As items are collected and you need to transfer them to storage or to the partners’ selected locations, take photos before moving items off-site or as they are delivered to your partner to use in your communications. Purchase more supplies or collection boxes as they are needed.
After the donation drive ends
If requested, sort and count the collected items
Go through the donated items collected and sort the items according to the organization’s guidelines. Try to get an accurate count of what has been received so that you can share with employees and with your partner organization and keep track for future drives that your employer might host.
Deliver the donations
If you haven’t needed to deliver the donations during the drive, find a mutually good time to deliver them to your partner agency. Recruit employee volunteers to help complete this task. Take photos during the delivery to use in your final communications so that those who donated can feel pride in contributing. Touch base with the recipient organization a few weeks later to see how the donations were distributed and plan for your next collaboration.
Share the total number of items you collected with all of your participants. Thank employees for participating and show gratitude to those who took on a leadership role. If possible, include any stories of how the donations will support your partners’ beneficiaries. Consider how you and your planning team could improve for next time.