Donation Pickup in Time of Tragedy or Grief

Strategies Sensitive to Donor’s Personal Situation During an Emergency Pickup of Assistive Technology Equipment


The stressful time when a family member dies or a person experiences an abrupt decline in health is often when people want to donate assistive technology equipment that is no longer needed. They may want the equipment removed quickly. In order to meet the donor’s needs, an equipment reuse program may need to respond to an emergency pickup of assistive technology equipment with little advance notice and in a manner that is sensitive to the equipment donor’s personal situation.  


How to do this?


Plan ahead.


1.       Identify emergency pickup or equipment removal* volunteers who work individually or as a team. Volunteers should be prepared to comfortably interact with people in crisis, physically remove the equipment without family assistance and respond to emotionally charged situations.


* Tip: Word choice becomes even more important in situations concerning the loss of a loved one. It is recommended to use the words “remove,” “transfer” or “collect” rather than “pick up.”


2.       Identify a vehicle that can be available at short notice.

3.       Establish a procedure for notifying emergency volunteers.

4.       Maintain a list of team phone numbers.

5.       Identify temporary storage for equipment picked up outside of office hours.

6.       Offer charitable donation form if appropriate.

7.       Complete necessary paperwork.

As an emergency pickup volunteer, you may find yourself asked to remove equipment from a donor whose family member has died. You may be uncomfortable going to a home where people are upset because of an abrupt decline in health status. You may think that you do not know what to say or do. Though every situation is unique, consider these tips.

Arrive on time. If you have an appointment to remove equipment, be on time. Introduce yourself. It may be helpful if you have a program brochure, business card or equipment pickup form. Speak clearly and respectfully with a pleasant facial expression. If you know that the donation is being made because of a death of a family member, you can offer condolences. A simple, “I am sorry” is appropriate. Avoid saying “I know how you feel.” You don’t. Each loss and grief is unique to the person who has had the loss. Do not offer advice about the person’s situation. If asked, listen if the person wants to tell you about their situation. However, you are there to remove equipment and may have to excuse yourself to continue your pickup schedule. Be patient. You may need to repeat yourself a few times before the person is ready to hear what you are saying. If the person is clearly upset, you may need to offer to come back at a different time.  Help the person by offering choices. For example, do you want the equipment taken out this way or that? When you leave, thank the person for their generosity. Consider that holidays may be very difficult for families when equipment pickup is scheduled. If appropriate, offer a charitable donation form.

Emergency personnel suggestions:

 Formally greet the person who opens the door with “Good morning” or “Hello” and introduce yourself.  Refer to the person as ma’am or sir.



Increasing Targeted Equipment Donations Packet, Product 2.a

Assistive Technology for Kansans – Expanding Reuse Project                        

Copyright © January 2008. Used with permission.


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Other Information

Title: Donation Pickup in Time of Tragedy or Grief
Module: Program Operations
Author: Assistive Technology for Kansans
Audience: Implementer
Sub Title: Training Employees for Emergency Equipment Pickup
Procedure: Strategies Sensitive to Donor's Personal Situation
Organization Source: Assistive Technology for Kansans
Last Reviewed: 04-02-2010 2:41 PM