How to Start a Donation Drive - GroupRaise

How to Start a Donation Drive

Posted by Katie Tincello

A donation drive can be extremely beneficial for a variety of organizations and there are a range of different types of donation drives you can run to meet the needs of your community.


Just like a fundraising event, donation drives are often popular with a charity’s supporters because they bring a sense of collective involvement and impact that is a rewarding experience. They are also very simple to organize and take part in, enabling people from all walks of life to get involved, regardless of their financial situation. 


During the pandemic, many organizations held donation drives for medical supplies and PPE to send to communities that did not have enough, demonstrating just how flexible a means of charitable work a drive can be!

This blog tells you how to start a donation drive to benefit those your organization supports. You will find a range of great donation drive ideas suitable for church groups, schools, nonprofits, and individuals looking to host a drive, as well as some useful tips and resources to help you plan and carry out your event.


Donation Drives: the basics

A donation drive is a really easy and effective act of charity to put together.


What is a donation drive?

A donation drive is a collection of items for those who really need them. The donations can take many forms: food, clothing, hygiene products, baby-care essentials, toys, school supplies, books, household items, and more. 


In contrast to more traditional fundraising efforts, a donation drive is not about money, but instead helps charities meet specific needs faced by people, such as a lack of food or inadequate supplies due to insufficient access to funds.


For this reason, donation drives are an attractive method for giving back because they have a very evident and direct impact in the local community. 


How does a donation drive work?

Individuals across the community donate the items advertised for the drive. Often people will repurpose their own items, unused or used in good condition, if for a clothing drive, toy drive, or for other items they may already have at home. Alternatively, volunteers will buy new items to donate, such as food supplies or school stationery supplies. 


The organization collects all donations and then distributes them to the school, church, group, or people that need them. This stage may require coordination with volunteers or other local communities to help distribute the items, such as the local school or a food bank, depending on your donation drive.


How to organize a donation drive

There are many different types of donation drives you can host and it will largely depend on your organization as to which is best suited for your cause. Regardless of the type of donation drive you are organizing, there are a few key steps that will ensure a successful event


1) Planning

You will want to put together a committee to run the event and take charge and plan the event. Consider what type of donation drive you are holding in relation to the needs of those you are helping – what items are in high demand? What will be most beneficial?


2) Choose a day, place, and time

Select a time and place for your event, making sure you choose a day when people will easily be able to stop by with their donations. An obvious, central, location will also make it easier for people to find you, and don’t forget to choose somewhere with enough space to store the donations!


3) Call for volunteers

You are going to need some people on hand to help you collect donations and then transport and deliver them. Consider creating a form for people to fill in with their availability so that you know you are covered throughout the day.


4) Spread the word

For a successful donation drive, people need to know about it! Take advantage of your local community and make sure you publicise your event. 


GroupRaise has some great resources that explain how best to publicize a charity event. Check out this blog on raising awareness of a campaign for some ideas, including using flyers, email, and social media.


5) Share the success!

During your donation drive you can utilise social media to update supporters and how the drive is going. Following collection, make sure you communicate with all your donors how their support has helped, such as numbers of items collected or the impact you’ve had on the people receiving the donations!


Donation drive ideas for your organization

There are so many different types of donation drives and they are all very effective. Many are specific to the nature of your charity or group, such as a nonprofit that supports the homeless collecting clothing or food donations. Other donation drive ideas are perfect for seasonal giving, such as a Thanksgiving food drive or a toy collection for children during the Holidays.


School Supply Drive

A school supply donation drive is hugely beneficial to support underserved communities or those that cannot afford school supplies for their children. Donations such as pencils, notebooks, crayons, binders, books, and textbooks (new or used) are all great options for people to donate.


Pens and Markers on Case

Photo by Tim Gouw


Food donation drive

Food drives help collect food for the homeless or those living below the breadline. They are hugely important and can have a big impact. When collecting food items, make sure donors know to only bring non-perishable items, such as canned goods, rice, pasta, etc. 


A great way to boost the size of your donation is to partner with a local supermarket and ask them for donations too.


Volunteers Preparing Donations

Photo by Julia M Cameron.


Clothing drive

A clothing drive can be a huge success as people can take advantage of the opportunity to clear out their closet and find good-quality clothes they no longer use and repurpose them for a good cause. 


Depending on the time of year you are hosting your donation drive, you may consider asking specifically for warm clothes donations. Similarly, children grow fast and sometimes it can be difficult to keep up. Shoes and school uniforms are particularly good clothing drive items to collect.


Toy drive

A toy drive is a wonderful donation drive idea if your organization supports a community with lots of children. Families can donate toys that their kids no longer use, providing they are still in good condition.


assorted-color alphabet cube toy lot

Photo by Susan Holt Simpson on Unsplash


Festive donation drives

During the festive season, fundraising and charitable events are particularly popular. A seasonal donation drive could be a food drive for Thanksgiving, or a gift box drive where individuals put together boxes full of gifts to be distributed for Christmas.


An effective way to increase participation in your donation drive is to partner with a local store that could offer a discount on products people buy to contribute to the drive. For example, a stationary store for a school supplies drive, or the local store for a food drive.


Two Brown Wrapped Gifts on Wooden Table

Photo by Ylanite Koppens


Supporting your community

A donation drive is a fantastic way to support your community and encourage people to engage in charity work. They also help raise awareness of your cause in the local community. 


If you are hosting a charity drive, you could use the opportunity to publicize other fundraising opportunities to your donors. Handing out donation forms, member registration forms, or flyers detailing your organization’s upcoming events is an easy way to gain more awareness and boost your fundraising success. 


Why not also celebrate the success of your donation drive with a delicious meal out at a local restaurant? Even better if you partnered with that restaurant for some food supplies for your food drive! 


Invite your team and all volunteers and donors to a restaurant fundraiser as a follow-up to your donation drive, and enjoy delicious food while supporting a local business and fundraising too. It’s the perfect way to top off your success!