Planning a Reuse Donation Drive

Planning a Reuse Donation Drive


All reuse programs have to develop a range of strategies to increase inventory, raise public recognition of their program and recruit volunteers. Conducting a reuse donation drive is one vehicle that can support all of these goals if it is carefully planned and executed. To help you consider whether your program would benefit from a donation drive, this document addresses key issues to consider, a planning timeline, event day checklist and sample budget. Please note that additional advice on developing materials such as radio announcements, press releases and other media materials is shared in the Reuse Press Packet. It might be useful to consult that packet as you plan your donation drive. 


Considerations when planning


Possible population

Review what age groups or disability populations your program serves. It is often useful to review your data over periods of time, such as comparing quarterly data over the course of a year or two. Do the populations served by your program align with your mission? Are certain groups under or over-represented? Are there populations that could be better served if inventory was increased in certain categories of equipment? 



Look at areas served by your program in which there is little activity. For example, the Kansas reuse program considered communities in counties where donations and requests of equipment were lower than other counties in a region. A successful event could raise awareness among residents that could lead to donations at the event and in subsequent months. Consider potential partners. Are there civic organizations, nonprofit organizations or agencies in the area that have a mission that correlates with your program’s mission? Advance education to targeted groups could result in recruiting volunteers to spread the word about your program, assist during the donation day or even help deliver or sanitize equipment later.  Think about who lives in an area. Does your program serve individuals with specific disabilities, people in a specific age bracket or is there a group that your program is under-serving at this time? If you want to increase outreach to a specific population, it could influence where you hold your donation drive, what time it is held and who you might approach as partners. 


Type of equipment

Consult your program data. What categories of equipment do you receive? Are there categories of equipment that you would like to receive but you rarely access? What type of equipment does your program reuse very successfully? Determine if your program has high demand equipment. Are there categories of equipment that consumers are always waiting to receive? Do you have shorter waiting lists of more costly equipment that could be targeted by a donation drive? What type of equipment donations would most benefit consumers served by your program? Do any of the locations being considered have populations that might have high cost or lightly used equipment? Are there support groups that might have equipment that is no longer needed, such as that used by patients with arthritis, ALS, Alzheimers, etc.? Are there rehabilitation units, sports medicine clinics or medical weight loss programs in the area whose clients may be educated about the benefits of reusing equipment that is no longer needed?


Planning timeline


Six months out

Review data for requests and donations of equipment. What category of equipment is in high demand – power wheelchairs, patient lifts, walkers with brakes and seats? What group always faces an equipment shortage – pediatric equipment, bariatric equipment? Are there counties or neighborhoods that your program is supposed to serve but in which there is little activity? Make a list of possible communities or neighborhoods where you could hold a donation drive based on the discussion of your data and your program’s strengths and needs.  What organizations and agencies are in the area that might be interested in your program’s mission? Partners don’t have to have an interest in durable medical equipment or assistive technology. Organizations that want to address unmet needs of community residents, to help individuals live independently or pursue educational and work goals, to improve health and safety of residents, or who are interested in serving a specific population or age group could be potential partners. TIP: Contact state associations or the local Chamber of Commerce or municipal office for a list of service organizations and contact information. Does anyone in your program (staff or volunteer) have contacts in any of the communities or neighborhoods you are considering? It’s helpful if you have someone with a connection to your program to increase the credibility of your request for help.


Four months out

Select the community or neighborhood for your donation drive. Make a list of possible sponsoring agencies and organizations. Make an initial contact with officers or representatives of these groups. Share program information such as your mission, program background, who you serve, what equipment and services you provide, fees associated with your program, if any. Explain that you are seeking help in promoting and conducting a donation drive in their neighborhood or community. Ask if their organization or agency would be interested in helping with the donation drive, what services would best fit their members and if there are other organizations that might be potential sponsors. TIP: Initial contacts can be conducted over the phone or via email, but it’s often worth your time to personally visit with contacts. It’s possible to make appointments with more than one contact during a visit so you can build momentum for your event. Consider possible sites in the community or neighborhood. What equipment are you requesting? Can the event be conducted outdoors or is there adequate indoor space in the area? How much space will you need for equipment? Is there room for information and give away tables? If you are promoting donations of large equipment, will you need parking space for a moving vehicle as well as drop off vehicle routes? Ask potential partners if there are locations in their community that are commonly used for community events. How easily can the different locations be accessed with private and public transportation? If recycling donated equipment that is at the end of useful life, identify reputable recycling processors in the area that can appropriately handle the equipment. Select a date for the event. Be aware of other events occurring near or at the same time. Some may help your effort, but others may detract. Consider linking your event to a statewide or national awareness day such as arthritis, disability awareness, or cancer awareness if appropriate.


2 months out

Select and secure the location for the donation drive. Determine if a permit is needed. Set the time of the event including setup and clean up times. Plan shifts so volunteers won’t have to commit to more than two or three hours unless they choose otherwise. Consider roles that volunteers can fill: greeting, educating people about the program, receiving equipment, directing traffic, etc. Ask for help in obtaining door prizes to increase attendance and event visibility.  Obtain verbal or written agreements from sponsoring organizations and agencies. Be sure you have adequate help for the day of the event. For example, do you need a volunteer with specialized skills, such as a DME provider to evaluate donated equipment? Develop event fliers for dissemination by volunteers from sponsoring organizations and agencies. Be sure to include the date, time, location, what’s accepted, sponsoring organizations and contact information. Ask sponsoring organizations and volunteers for ideas on how to spread the word in their community. Is there a community calendar, local network that supports community events or location that is a hub for activity, such as a recreation center or farm store or a community newsletter?  Develop presentation materials and schedule at least two presentations one month before the donation drive for members of sponsoring organizations. Provide event fliers as a handout at each presentation. Ask members to help inform their community. Write and record radio public service announcements. Contact local radio stations for price information and audience demographics. Write and distribute a press release to newspapers serving the area. Don’t forget local free coverage in papers that sometimes include human interest stories. Develop a newspaper advertisement if your budget allows for it. 


1 month out

Distribute public service announcements to local radio stations for free air time. If your budget allows, request information on a combination of purchased and free air time to increase exposure and stretch your budget. Be sure the radio station listening demographics support the focus of your donation drive. Offer to provide guests on radio talk shows promoting community activities if applicable.  Conduct presentations at meetings of sponsoring organizations and agencies. Have a separate planning meeting with your local volunteers to refine details. This can be done face-to-face or over the telephone. Stay in contact with your volunteer partners as you plan. Disseminate event fliers using local volunteers. Fliers can be posted at laundromats, donut shops, discount stores, senior centers, public libraries, etc. Dental and medical offices will often allow a small stack to be placed in waiting areas. Mail a short paragraph about the donation drive to local ministers and ask that it be placed in bulletins or church publications two and three weekends before the event.  Send an email blast promoting the event to all of your existing partners and program advocates. Arrange for a moving vehicle to transport donations if needed. Decide what size vehicle will be needed. If using a rental vehicle, be sure to buy the insurance and identify the driver.  Arrange for storage of donated equipment if it cannot be delivered to the program’s office the day of the donation drive. Arrange for tables and chairs for the informational table. Be sure to have trash receptacles on site. Consider providing recycling containers for aluminum cans and plastic bottles or cups.


2 weeks out

Order refreshments, preferably from local vendors. Design and print name tags for staff and volunteers. Pack boxes of informational brochures, give-away items such as pens or magnets with toll-free numbers, and signup sheets if used. Have donation forms available and note if the donor can receive a tax exemption for a donation. Consider having a door prize if you want to collect names and contact information for training or program update mailings. Have a check box on drawing entry slips so individuals can opt out of mailings if they choose.  Line up materials needed at your donation day site. Be sure to have containers for smaller equipment if targeted. Other needed materials include: disposable gloves, cleaning supplies for that dusty equipment, first-aid kit, traffic cones, tent, hand-counter to track attendees, camera for documentation, tables, ice chests for drinks, tape, scissors, paper, extension cords, and ramps if loading and unloading heavy equipment. Circulate a schedule among your volunteers confirming times they agreed to work at the informational booth. Run newspaper ads if budgeted.


Day of event

Be prepared to start about 30 minutes early to allow for early arrivals. Set up your table with brochures, sign-up sheets, give-aways and refreshments. Give name tags to your volunteers and be sure to introduce volunteers to each other. Greet every person you meet and be prepared to explain your program goals and answer questions.  Clean the area thoroughly after the event.


Day after event

Send thank you letters to all sponsoring organizations.  Send thank you notes to each volunteer.  Draft and disseminate a press release to publicize the results of event. 


Sample Budget

Successful events can be conducted on a range of budgets. Even if you have limited funds, you can collaborate with others to operate an event on a shoestring if necessary.  If you have a limited budget, consider applying for a grant or seeking financial sponsorship from a civic organization.  If there are reuse programs in the area that collect different types of equipment, consider collaborating and stretching resources.



Collection Drive Budget



Press releases                                                              0

Fliers                                                                            100

Banner                                                                          300

Newspaper                                                                    600

Radio PSAs                                                                  500                               1,500



Pens, magnets (already produced)                                  0

Reuse program brochures (already produced)                   0

Doorprize                                                                      50                                    50


Transportation (vehicle, pickup of large equipment)                        300                                 300


Cleaning supplies                                                                         50                                  50


Thank you cards & postage                                                        100                       100


Refreshments* (cider, cookies for 200, cups, napkins)                   300                                 300




* Refreshments are important for volunteers, but help attract the general public as well as keep interested individuals around long enough to learn about your program. 



Increasing Targeted Equipment Donations Packet, Product 8.a

Assistive Technology for Kansans – Expanding Reuse Project                                                                               

Copyright © January 2008. Used with permission.



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Other Information

Title: Planning a Reuse Donation Drive
Module: Marketing/PR
Author: Assistive Technology for Kansans
Audience: Implementer
Sub Title: How to organize equipment donation event
Procedure: Comprehensive plan for donation drive
Organization Source: Assistive Technology for Kansans
Last Reviewed: 11-30--0001 12:00 AM