One of the things that we have found hope in, on this crazy “Extra Needs Kid” journey is getting our son a service dog to alert us to seizures. The costs involved are not small. The total costs will come to at least $25k. I’ll get into the reasons it’s worth it in another post, but for this one, I want to share with you how we raised a chunk of that money without having to plan a big event or ask people to buy anything. There’s nothing wrong with that, and yes, we did those types of things as well… but this post is about our biggest fundraiser so far… one that I did NOT think would be!
Shoes. Yep, shoes. All kinds: slippers, sandals, flip flops, snow boots, cowboy boots, work boots, glitzy glamorous heals and everything in between.
We collected shoes. Piles and piles, truck loads and trailer hauls of shoes, all for a fundraising company called Funds2Orgs. There are a few restrictions for the conditions of the shoes; no holes, good soles, the heels not ripped up etc. and they’ll give you a good guide to go on.
You collect the shoes, pair them together with the provided rubber bands and put them in the provided bags in batches of 25. The company will come at the end of your fundraiser and pick them up. They’ll pay you $.40 a pound for the shoes.
The shoes go to 25+ developing countries… and people LOVE that aspect, so make sure you share it a lot!
So here’s how we marketed our fundraiser to get over 600 bags of shoes in 3 months.
Create a fundraiser name with hashtag. Ours was #2Shoesfor4Paws. It was cute, catchy, and related.
Facebook Group: we had already set one up for people to stay updated on our son’s medical issues… so we did have a good following (just under 1k) before we started the fundraiser, but if you don’t have one, make one!
~Do a group instead of a page. Page stuff gets hidden on FB a lot. Make your group a public group! Very important! This ensures that friends of friends see your posts when you tag people in them.
~Do a live video in your group explaining what you’re going to be doing… make it short and sweet!
~THEN add friends and family to the group. They can see the video first thing, know what the purpose of the group is and leave if they choose.
Set a goal and share it. I told everyone that our goal was 400 bags of shoes… I NEVER expected to hit it, but I wanted to give people some motivation to donate… you know how many we ended up with? Over 600 bags of shoes.
I. Was. Floored.
So here’s how we did it…
Flyer: Create a flyer for your shoe drive. Honestly we didn’t print any, but plenty of other people did (from the group you so conveniently created and posted the flyer in) and put it up at their jobs, churches, schools etc.
When: you can gather shoes from groups of people as the weeks pass, but I also set up a weekend for a drop off site at a central location in our town. We used a building that is part of our church, located on the main highway through town. Advertise this weekend but make sure people know that they can get shoes to you before then.
Who: who do you contact for shoes? First of all, your Facebook group will generate a lot of mini drives.
~Businesses. My husband works for a company with multiple stores in about 10 towns within a few hours of us. Four of them set up collection barrels with a flyer hanging on them. We collected over 100 bags of shoes just from these four locations. My friend also set up a collection basket in her boutique and offered her shoppers a $5 discount just for bringing in a pair of gently used shoes to donate. She herself also donated some extra inventory from her store. A restaurant with two local locations each set up a box. A physical therapy place did too. We didn’t ask any of these places, they saw our Facebook posts and took it upon themselves. The nursing home that my dad works at held a collection as well.
Schools: We talked to the principal at our kids’ school and she let us do a competition between the grades. We ended up getting 615 pairs of usable shoes and we took popsicles to the winning class. A high school offered their students a non-uniform dress down day for bringing in two pairs of shoes. One school’s (FIVE hours away) Jr. Honor Society hosted a one-week drive and collected over 600 pairs of shoes. GET SCHOOL PARTICIPATION!!!
These two pics were taken at two schools… Immanuel Lutheran School (top) in our home town, and Martin Luther Academy (bottom) in Kansas City. The JR NHS set up a shoe drive at MLK and blew past their goal!
Churches: I emailed several churches and asked them to put a few sentences in their bulletins. Many of them did. Some did individual drop offs, some we picked up, some brought to our drive day.
Family and Friends: this is HUGE! Don’t let distance stop you! We live in southeast Missouri. My parents took their huge van and went to visit family in South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas City and St. Louis. They picked up from multiple friends and family in each location and brought home almost 3,500 pairs of usable shoes!!!
We drove a few hours away and met a longtime friend that I’d only known online till that point. She drove a few hours to meet us with shoes she had collected and she brought 33 bags worth of shoes!
Facebook tags are VITAL! When you tag someone to thank them, because your group is public, their friends see the tag, and they might have some shoes to pass along. Tag businesses… do shout outs… make it worth their while to collect shoes for them. They are helping you out… give them the free advertising!
Don’t get behind!
Keep up with your shoes. You don’t want to just let them pile up. It is a lot of work to sort, rubber band and bag them up. We had 10 people working together one day, and they did 110 bags of shoes and it took them about 6 hours to do it. With TEN people. It’s worth the work, trust me… but it’s time consuming!
Extra bags/bands. So this was the only issue we had. It takes a week to get bags from the company. When you fill 35 or 85 bags (depending on whether you had a 50 or 100 bag kit) they will send you more bags and rubber bands. Free. But it takes a week to get them. This is another reason you want to stay on top of the shoes. We were collecting shoes so quickly from so many places that on several occasions, we had piles of rubber banded shoes but no bags to put them in. We ended up ordering some clear ones off of amazon and buying extra rubber bands too. This isn’t mandatory. It was only because WE weren’t patient enough to wait!
This was my son and I with our 600th bags of shoes!
Space! You will need space to work on the sorting/bagging of shoes. You will also need a space to store the bags until Funds2Orgs picks them up. If you don’t have the space personally, see if a local storage unit business will donate a storage space or give you a discount since it’s for charity.
Most importantly… have fun with it! Play music! Have snacks! Make it a shoe party!
ENJOY pick-up day! Say farewell to all your hard work and wait for the check to arrive!
*This post was originally published on my previous blog: The Mom Strong Life