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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Start a School Supply Drive in Your Community

Doesn’t it feel like summer’s just begun? It’s hard to believe that in just a few short weeks we’ll be trading in picnics and vacations for a new school year and all of the hustle and bustle that comes along with it.

One way to get excited about a new school year is to get involved in making it better for the students and teachers in your community. Many schools serve low-income children who may not have all the supplies they need to be successful. You can help by organizing a school supply drive for your local school. It's not too hard and will go a long way toward making the school year a little easier for the kids in your neighborhood.

We’re sharing tips for starting a school supply drive in your community, but you can use these pointers to start a drive of any kind (cans, coats, toys, books, etc.).

Getting Started (aka Getting Organized)

Organization is essential to any successful fundraising drive. Before you begin, take a few moments to create a game plan, and use it to execute your vision. Here are a few sample questions and responses to help you get started.

  1. What’s your goal? And why?

    This could be as broad as “collecting extra supplies for the local elementary school,” or as granular as “providing 50 packs of crayons, 100 packs of colored pencils, and 150 packs of markers for the after-school art program.”

    And, don’t forget the why? Why is this the goal? Why are you asking neighbors to get involved? Why should they care about this?
  2. What’s the timeline for this project?

    Creating a timeline before you begin ensures your dining room table won’t be swamped with incoming school supplies until December break. It also allows you to clearly communicate when you need donors and volunteers to get involved. Letting them know that you’ll be collecting supplies until August 20 is more clear than “the end of summer.” It will also help you mark your progress along the way, and set up reminders as needed.
  3. What additional support is needed?

    Will you need anyone else to help you achieve your goal? Do you need someone with a bigger car to help you transport donated the supplies? Or, the local newspaper to run an ad about your drive? Take a few minutes to identify what additional support is needed and how you’ll get it. Then, ask. And when you do be clear about what you need and how volunteers can expect to participate.
  4. How will you get others involved?

    A drive isn’t really a drive if you’re the only person donating extra school supplies. How will you get others involved? Will you share it on Facebook? Email your friends? Work with the PTA? Run an ad in the local paper?

    However you choose to communicate your drive, be clear about your goal, the purpose of your drive, and the timeline for the project when you reach out to your networks. This will help them connect to your vision and excite them to get involved.
  5. What does success look like? How will you measure it?

    What’s your vision for the project? What will feel like a success? Be realistic when you answer these questions. Sure, it would be nice to collect all of the pens and binders the entire district needs, but it’s important to be reasonable when you think about what you and your network can achieve.

    And, don’t forget to track your progress throughout the process. Your friends, family, and other donors will want to know the outcomes when it’s over. (Plus, a success story will make getting others involved in next year’s drive even easier!)

School Supplies

The following is a list of recommended supplies most schools will accept:

  • Paper: lined, copy, assorted notebooks
  • Pens, pencils, highlighters
  • Art supplies: crayons, colored pencils, markers, glue sticks, scissors, tape
  • Classroom supplies: dry erase markers and erasers, paper and binder clips, folders
  • General supplies: tissues, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes

If possible, get in touch with your school to find out what would be the most beneficial. Perhaps they’ve noticed teachers never have enough washable markers in their classrooms, or halfway through the year classrooms run low on tissues. Find out how you can fill the gaps to ensure students and teachers have what they need for a successful year.

It’s only mid-July which leaves you with plenty of time to collect lots of supplies for your local school. Over the next few weeks there will be lots of sales on back to school items, so don’t forget to stock up on some extras for the kids in your area.

We want to hear from you!

Have you organized a drive before? What did you learn (good or bad) and what are your secrets to success?

Written by Ashley Post, Communications Manager at Charity Navigator.

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