Nonprofits help their beneficiaries in a variety of ways. However, to provide valuable assistance, nonprofits need readily available funds. A clothing drive presents a unique opportunity for some nonprofits to directly help their beneficiaries by collecting clothing for them. And for other nonprofits, a clothing drive is a unique and effective fundraiser.

To help you get started hosting a nonprofit clothing drive, we’ll review these best practices:

  1. Create a thorough clothing drive plan.
  2. Form clothing drive partnerships.
  3. Determine what items you’ll accept.

Before we dive in, let’s discuss why you should consider hosting a clothing drive event and how it will be beneficial for your nonprofit. Let’s get started!

Why host a nonprofit clothing drive?

There are a variety of reasons why a nonprofit clothing drive is a worthwhile event for your organization to consider hosting. Clothing drives come with the following benefits:

  • Direct aid for beneficiaries. With a clothing drive, you’ll collect donations of high-quality clothing that you can give to your beneficiaries. This is extremely helpful for nonprofits that work with people experiencing homelessness, poverty, and medical crises.
  • Increased awareness. A clothing drive provides the opportunity for you to share your mission. Increase awareness by including information about your nonprofit and beneficiaries in your promotional materials. Be sure to engage interested individuals by clearly describing the problem you’re trying to solve, the value of solving it, and the solution your nonprofit offers.
  • Enhanced reputation. People often understand that nonprofits are working to improve the community. However, people need concrete reminders to understand exactly how a nonprofit helps those in need. Fortunately, it’s easy for supporters to evaluate how a clothing drive can help the community, improving your reputation by reinforcing your organization’s commitment to your mission.
  • Environmental sustainability. A clothing drive allows your supporters to clean out their closets and donate their old clothes to a worthy cause. This supports environmental sustainability, as these clothes will be given new life through reusing or recycling.

Even if your nonprofit’s beneficiaries can’t directly benefit from receiving clothing, a clothing drive is still a great fundraising event option for your organization. Instead of giving the items you’ve collected to your beneficiaries, you can turn them into a recycling center. Often, they’ll pay you per pound of clothing, providing you with the funds necessary for working towards your mission.

3 Nonprofit Clothing Drive Best Practices

Now that you know why you should host a nonprofit clothing drive, let’s dive into some best practices.

1. Create a thorough clothing drive plan.

According to NXUnite, event planning gives your nonprofit a clear roadmap, increases productivity, and helps your team get on the same page. Much like other events, a clothing drive has many moving parts, so it’s essential that your staff has a clear idea of what the event will look like.

Make sure to cover the following points in your nonprofit clothing drive’s plan:

  • Event duration. Clothing drives vary greatly in duration. Some are single-day events, whereas others can take weeks or even months. A longer event may allow you to gather more clothing, but it will require more upkeep on your part.
  • Collection method. For single-day clothing drives, supporters often hand their clothing directly to staff members and volunteers. For longer events, nonprofits often establish a drop-off box to reduce employee workload and make donating more convenient for supporters.
  • Sorting strategy. Decide if and how you’ll sort your donations. If you’re planning on bringing the clothing to a recycling center, you may not need to implement an extensive sorting strategy. However, if the clothing is going to your beneficiaries, you might want to sort it into different categories.
  • Storage method. Determine where you’ll store the collected clothing between receiving it and giving them to your beneficiaries or a recycling center. This is even more important to establish if your event will span a longer period of time.
  • Marketing. Consider which marketing channels you’ll promote your event on to draw the greatest number of participants. Popular channels include direct mail, email, and social media.

While creating your plan, assess how much external help your staff members will need. Plan to recruit the necessary amount of volunteers to close any gaps, ensuring that your event will be a success.

2. Form clothing drive partnerships.

To spread awareness and receive more clothing donations, secure sponsorships and partnerships with other organizations for your event. Consider partnering with the following organizations:

  • Schools. These organizations make great partners for nonprofit clothing drives, as children are constantly outgrowing their clothing. This partnership allows parents to get rid of old clothing and help a great cause.
  • Churches. Tap into the giving spirit by partnering with a church. Announce your clothing drive at the end of mass or service to engage a large group of charitable-minded individuals and receive their support. Direct them to your website if they’re interested in learning more.
  • Businesses. Many businesses have corporate social responsibility programs that incentivize their employees to volunteer or donate to nonprofits. Research local businesses with such programs to recruit volunteers or collect monetary donations to support your mission.
  • Community clubs. Engage the local community by reaching out to hobby groups and clubs to promote your fundraiser. This is especially effective if the club is centered around something clothing-adjacent, such as sewing or quilting.
  • Sports teams. Sports teams have more access to and are more likely to donate sports-related clothing. Gifting these items to your beneficiaries may remove the barrier for them to participate in sports activities they would not otherwise be able to afford. It will also encourage them to take care of their physical health.

Aside from these organizations, you can also partner with recycling companies that will alleviate your staff’s logistical burden. For example, Phill the Box helps nonprofits fundraise by setting up collection boxes in their local community. They’ll send trucks to collect any clothing that’s donated, and send your nonprofit a check per pound of clothing.

Partnering with a similar organization may allow your organization to passively raise funds through a long-term clothing drive and give you the capacity to plan for other events.

3. Determine what items you’ll accept.

Although you want to encourage supporters to be more sustainable and protect the environment by donating clothing to your nonprofit, you still need to establish which items you’ll accept. The two main criteria to determine are item condition and type.

In terms of condition, most nonprofits specify that they’ll only accept new or gently-used items for clothing drives. This is especially true if the items will be given directly to beneficiaries. However, if you plan to bring the clothing to a recycling center, research what condition the items have to be for them to accept it. Some centers may accept clothing that has seen clear use.

For item type, keep in mind that clothing is an extremely broad category. Clearly specify what items you’ll accept and what you can’t. Common items that are accepted at nonprofit clothing drives include:

  • Tops
  • Pants
  • Skirts
  • Jeans
  • Shoes
  • Jewelry
  • Bags
  • Purses
  • Hats
  • Gloves
  • Scarves
  • Underwear

Some nonprofit clothing drives will accept other necessities for their beneficiaries, such as soap, toothpaste, and menstrual products.

Make donation easy for your supporters by providing them with resources that will help them evaluate what they should donate. Tell them which items you’ll accept and provide tips for spring cleaning and decluttering. For example, you could introduce supporters to the KonMari method of tidying, where they consider if an item sparks joy. If it does, they keep it, and if it doesn’t, they can donate it to your clothing drive!

Nonprofit clothing drives can bring tangible benefits to your beneficiaries, whether that’s through the clothing you’ve collected or through the funds you’ve raised. After your event has ended, thank your supporters for all their help and consider sharing the positive impact you’ve made by creating a video. This will show the effectiveness of your nonprofit’s event and serve as a fun reminder of how your supporters helped!