It's hard to imagine growing up without books. But, this is the sad reality for millions of American children in low-income families. In fact, The Literacy Project foundation notes that 6 out of 10 households in the U.S. do not buy a single book in a year. Children who grow up without the early development that comes from reading face obstacles when they enter school and may cause them to be at a disadvantage their whole lives.
You can help give a child the tools for success by running a book drive in your community. Your drive can be greatly simplified by creating a YouGiveGoods online drive which handles all the drive logistics for you. Below are some suggestions on holding a successful book drive.
- 1) Choose a recipient organization. Research local boys and girls clubs, YMCAs, daycares, schools, after care programs and community centers to find the program you'd like to support. Be sure to contact them to understand their specific needs and to discuss how you can work together to make the book drive as successful as possible. Discuss whether you will accept only new books or also those that are gently used. Also, determine the age range you are serving so you can request books for the appropriate reading level.
- 2) Find a sponsor / build a team. You'll be able to reach more potential donors by partnering with others. Ask friends and family to help you plan and spread the word. Enlisting a corporate sponsor is a great way to expand the reach of your drive. If your employer is not a match, reach out to other companies in your community, especially those that have shown an interest in literacy programs in the past. See how Northrop Grumman's online drive raised new books for area children during their 2016 Women's Conference.
- 3) Set concrete goals. It may be difficult for you to estimate at the onset, but setting goals will help keep you on track, stay focused and ultimately collect more books.
- 4) Set drive dates. Typically a drive lasts between 2 and 4 weeks. Timing your drive to correspond to a national event (like Read Across America Day on March 2 or Children's Book Week in May) or a special occasion at your local partner organization helps create excitement and capitalizes on media surrounding those events. For example, the Madison Area YMCA in NJ reached out to supporters with an online book drive as part of Read Across America Day to raise books for their programs.
- 5) Plan your logistics. If you are using collection boxes, be sure to choose high traffic areas that will be easy for donors to access. Be sure to get approval of the business or building before you leave a box there. Include bright, eye-catching signage which clearly outlines the details of your drive. A great way to simplify your drive is by running an online drive using YouGiveGoods. This free service allows you to set up a personalized drive page which you can then share with supporters via email and social media. Supporters shop online and all the donated books are delivered directly to your chosen organization. Since all the logistics are handled for you, you can spend more time promoting your drive and sending people to the website to donate more books!
- 6) Promote your drive. Whether you choose to run a collection box drive, an online drive or both, the most important thing you can do to run a successful drive is to promote the drive as much as possible. People typically need to see information multiple times before they are moved to action. Ask for your drive to be included in the upcoming events in your local newspapers. Discuss promotion efforts with your sponsoring corporation if you have one and with the recipient organization. Post frequently on your social media accounts and ask friends and family to do the same. You can open the conversation by asking followers to post their favorite children's book. Getting people to remember how special these books were to them may move them to give this gift to another child. Share information about literacy and the program you are supporting. Finally, send updates about your drive. Keep the conversation going and the donations should continue to come in. People love that their YouGiveGoods drives are made for social sharing!
- 7) Celebrate your success. At the close of you drive celebrate your effort, whatever the results. Review what worked and what didn't work and make notes about ways to hold an even bigger drive in the future. Let all donors know the outcome of your drive and be sure to send a personal note of thanks whenever possible. Finally, whether you are shipping books to the site or delivering them yourself, take photos of the delivery or of happy children receiving their books and share with all your supporters. The smile of a child will be the best thank you that you receive.