Connect with an established organization: Research reputable relief organizations and make sure you have a destination for your collected items. NON PROFIT
Communicate clearly: Make sure your donors understand what they’re contributing to—who is the sponsoring club or organization? Who is the community partner? What community is being helped? Where are the donations going and why are they needed? Who should they contact with questions or concerns?
Let the community you’re trying to help tell you what items are needed: Let your community partner guide you in organizing your drive. Volunteers on site and within the community can let you know what items will be most helpful—and what they DON’T need!
Keep it simple: If possible, try to create a narrow focus using the information you gather from your community partner. This will help your donors avoid confusion over what to buy and keep them from purchasing unnecessary or unhelpful items. For example—host a battery drive, or just collect flashlights, maybe only underwear and socks. This will allow you to more easily sort through your donations in preparation for sending them.
Think about logistics: How will you transport the items you’ve collected from campus to the community you’re trying to support? Are shipping channels open? Where should items be sent? Do you have boxes? Packing materials? How much will shipping cost and can you or your group afford it?
Only collect new items: Allowing people to donate used (even when you specify, “gently used” is an invitation for people to give you junk. Keep it simple and request new, unused items only.
Set realistic expectations: Do your research to insure you are collecting items that will truly be helpful. Listen and respect when communities tell you to wait or that they simply aren’t ready to handle donations that aren’t money. Make sure you will be able to deliver what you’ve collected. Don’t over-promise—remember that students typically have limited funds to use to purchase donations; don’t ask for too much from the community.
Build in time to sort: Despite your best efforts, you may still receive donated items that are broken, damaged, inappropriate, or out of scope for your drive. Allow your group time and a place to sort through donations to weed out items that cannot or should not be donated. This will be much appreciated by the organizations who ultimately receive your items. Empty your collection boxes regularly—don’t let items pile up.