NONPROFIT: Donation Drives Steer Morale, Community Goodwill

Column by Mike Pritchard


Tis the season to host a donation drive at your company for your favorite charity. Hosting a donation drive to gather clothing, toys, food or any other items a charity might need has few downsides, but volumes of benefits for any size company. From a budgetary standpoint, it costs next to nothing and is fairly easy to organize, and the benefits to organizations whose constituents are in need this holiday season are immeasurable.

Unfortunately, with the limping economy nonprofits like Goodwill Industries of Denver and others are serving even more people in need. Recent poverty numbers show 25 percent of working families are unable to cover even their basic needs, and it is our community's nonprofits that help provide programs to this group that the government can't.

Beyond the benefits to the charity, hosting a drive of any kind at your company can offer value to your company in the form of community and employee good will, increased morale and productivity. If your company is not quite able to give financially to charities this holiday season, an in-house food, clothing or toy drive is a great way to give back without a large financial investment. Everyone feels more generous during the holidays and hosting a donation drive gives employees an easy way to feel good about giving back to those in need.

Gathering gently used clothing, office, technology or household items have an added "green" benefit. Goodwill is able to keep 55 million pounds of waste out of landfills thanks to the recycling efforts of the greater Denver community. Even computers can be recycled now, thanks to a program by Dell. Goodwill tests all of its electronic donations before placing out on the retail floor, and you'd be surprised at some of the amazing gifts people have found.

To help you get started, here is a step-by-step guide to hosting a donation drive at your business.

Step 1. Choose your charity.

The person organizing the charity drive may already have a pet charity in mind, but another great way to boost morale is to ask employees to get involved in the process. Think about the kind of "good" you want to do in your community and the needs of those non profits.

Step 2. Reach out to employees.

Reach out to employees and create a committee of people who would be willing to organize the drive. Remember to tap into the talents of the other departments to make it successful. Ask advertising for posters and PR for promotional and employee incentive ideas. If your company has multiple locations and works with the public, community newspapers or company newsletters are good ways to get the word out to make the drive go even farther.

Step 3. Determine logistics.

Once you know what you are collecting and the date of your drive, you can determine how many donation bins you need for your space. Then you just need to figure out what kind of marketing is necessary and how to get your employees, and perhaps customers, excited.

Step 4. Decide on a goal for your donation drive.

Are you going to measure pounds or number of cans or items donated? Will you have a competition for your drive with prizes?

Step 5: Set up large collection bins or boxes and attach signs with details of you donation drive.

You might be able to get these from the charity you choose. If your company is gathering clothing or other household goods, don't forget to have donor receipts for taxes available.

Step 6: Start promoting your donation drive at least two weeks in advance.

  • Post posters/fliers around the business.
  • Send out e-mail blasts to employees/customers.
  • Use social networks (Facebook event, Twitter party).
  • Set up a table in the cafeteria with information about the impact donations can have on your community.
  • Ask employees to help promote the drive to their friends and families,
  • Contact the local newspaper, radio and TV stations and tell them about the goals you have set and invite them to come for a photo opportunity at your company.
  • Invite someone from the charity to talk to employees about the programs it provides to the community.

Step 7: After your donation drive. 

  • Thank your donors with signage.
  • Calculate the positive impact your donations make.
  • Tell your charity about it. Email pictures and results of your donation drive. Your company could be featured on the website or through social media.
  • Don't forget to recap the event for employees through the company newsletter or e-mails. If you are able to raise a large amount, let the community know how much you raised through your neighborhood newspaper.

The most important point of all is have fun. Your community will be improved, your employees will be thankful for the opportunity to help more people in your community, and your company's bottom line may even get a special gift.


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