This post is partially from our own experience on what it takes to run a successful drive. There isn’t any special secret formula. The most important thing is hard work, determination, and networking. Below are some suggestions. There is no right or wrong way to do it.
So you want to run a book drive and you don’t know where to get started.
1. Pick a Date This will solidify your drive and become something very concrete in your mind.
You may want to dedicate an entire month for people to drop off books or only a week. A lot of this depends on your availability. The more available you are the more likely people will find the time to donate. The one advantage to making a smaller date range is that it will provide more motivation. The longer the time the more people tend to procrastinate. If you do only have a few days for drop off there will be people that only find out about it later and will want to donate. Another option is to have the main dates, but also have the option for a drop off for the stragglers. You should however have a final date in your mind where you will no longer accept donations.
2. Find an organization to work with. There are a number of organizations that will work with you. Each one of them has different criteria on what they accept. Find out all of the criteria ahead of time. The more specifications the more complicated it can get. If an organization only wants children’s books from k-4 you may be stuck with a bunch of books. Make sure that the organization does intend to do good things with the books. You can usually tell by doing a quick search on them. Books4Cause has very open specifications we take most books in readable condition on any subject and any reading level. We too have restrictions such as no magazines, journals, and encylopedias. Some organizations such as ALP require that you raise money as well to pay for the cost of shipping. Find out all of these restrictions and make your choice on who to work with.
3. Logistics. Where are you going to store the books? How are you going to box the books? What are the drop off times? What are the book restrictions? Who is going to sort the books? Do you need volunteers? Are you setting up drop boxes? Getting clear on all these details will ensure a smooth book drive. Are you going to be offering book pickups for the elderly? A lot of times you can work with a Church or another organization. They can help serve as a storage area and they also have a built in network of volunteers and potential donors.
4. Marketing – Now that you have picked a date and found an organization that you want to work with it is time to get the word out. There are many ways to do this, some are free, and some cost money. Here are a few ideas. Let all of your friends on FB now about it. If you have a picture include it and send out a notification at least a couple of weeks in advance. Do this a few times as the date gets closer. Notify your local newspaper and have them run a story. Call all of your friends, and parents friends and let them know what you are doing. Ask each person on the phone if they have five people’s phone numbers. Send out an email blast to all of your friends. Create a flier and post it in book friendly areas like the library, schools, coffee shops, book stores, and churches. The flier doesn’t need to be complex. It should have the dates of the drive, the location, and the beneficiaries.
5. Sorting and Shipping – This depends on the restrictions of the group you used. If they only want k-4 then you will need to sort the books out into these categories. This is the part where lots of volunteers can help. When you have all of the sorting done notify the organization you used for the next step.