How to get the word out about your donation drive

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Girl Scouts improve their communities all year long—but during the holidays they are especially busy leading community service and Take Action projects!

While these philanthropic and problem-solving activities have differences (check out this post that explains community service vs. Take Action), there’s one thing they both require: public awareness.

In the winter months, donation drives (collecting goods for others) is very popular. Need some ideas on how to get the community more involved with your project? Read through these awesome tips provided by GSGLA Girl Advisory Bureau (GAB) members Nicole A., Lorelai D., Olivia R., Madison R., Quinn W., and Josie C. These good-doers found success in the following ways:

Consider the timing. A toy drive during the holidays is a great idea. Also, as it gets cold, it’s important to help those who need warmth. Little kids grow out of their coats every year, so now is a good time to start collecting. Those families who are replacing their coats will love to donate their old ones. This would also make for an excellent annual service project because it can become a habit or custom for families, and your success will grow each year. Seasonal projects are also cool because you can pair up with a holiday event happening in your town, and ask the event planners if guests can bring donations for your project.

Create a strong flier. Post it at school, around your community, and on social media. Always double-check it before you make copies: It’s easy to leave something out or put the wrong date by accident. Using photos or drawings on a flier can be cute. For a teddy bear drive, you could use a cute picture of a little girl hugging a teddy bear. Just remember that using photos usually requires a release, but you’re fine if you can’t identify the person or if they give you permission. 

Be visible—and consistent! Choose to hang posters or put your information booth or collection box in a popular public space. If you’re placing a box at a local business, make sure to contact the business ahead of time to get permission. Try to leave your box for at least a week, and choose a location with repeating customers—like a cleaner’s shop, bakery, or coffee shop. Better yet: Make it a business that sells the types of items you’re collecting, so it’s easy for people to donate!

Think carefully about your donation booth/collection box. If it looks like you put in the work to make your project a success, it will be a success. Potential donors will recognize your efforts. For example, if you have a sock drive at school, you could set up a can with a basketball hoop above it so people could score baskets as they toss in their donations “for the win.” For the holidays, decorate your collection box with wrapping paper. Make cute signs with clever puns. You can label your change donation jar with a note saying “thank you for helping to ‘change’ the world.” Also, a service project for the animal shelter is a ‘paws-itively’ great idea!

Make sure your school is in the loop. With permission, hang up signs, hand out business cards, and wear pins that say “Ask Me About…” You can also make morning announcements at school and ask to include a note about your project in the school newsletter. Plus, check with your school’s clubs and ASB for ideas and additional marketing resources.

Connect with other Girl Scouts on social media. Post your project on the GSGLA Facebook page (and neighboring council pages and groups), and tag @GirlScoutsLA on Instagram or use the #TroopTuesday hashtag. Follow local Girl Scout troops who have pages and ask them to share your flier or post about your project. In turn, you can do the same for their project!

Attend a Girl Scout leaders meeting. Ask your troop leader or service unit manager when the leaders meetings take place, and ask if you can present. You can even inquire about collections at the event itself—make sure the email in advance of the meeting talks about the opportunity to donate, so people come prepared.

Don’t forget your neighbors! Because they are not always around when you are, you can ask for donations by using a flier and a paper bag left on their front porches. Make sure the flier explains what you’re was asking for, why it is important, and the details of your project. It should also say when you will return to pick up the bag.

Notify your local newspaper. Most local newspapers have a “community briefs” section where there are small announcements about events and other happenings. Browse the paper’s website to find out how to submit to this section—usually it’s an easy online form or specific email address.

Always say, “Thanks.” Leaving a note when you pick up a donation bag is a nice touch—just like when you sell Girl Scout cookies! Don’t forget to thank the business owners or other people who helped you by letting you have a collection box at their space.

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