If your store is opening at the beginning of the school year, or if you’re looking for an opportunity to give back to your local community: collect school supplies and backpacks in your location for needy children. Partner with one school to maximize impact!


There’s no better way to truly become part of your neighborhood than to give back to students in need within your neighborhood or city. School supply drives are easy and fun to organize, and will really  make a difference in your community  – whether it be at a local school or after-school program.

To increase connection with your local community (and, for the greatest local impact), we recommend selecting ONE school or program to “adopt” as your own, and donate supplies solely to them. While it is tempting to want to help multiple schools, you’ll have the greatest impact if you concentrate on helping one school or program. Don’t know who to help? Simple! Do some online research to see if there are needy schools, libraries or local literacy programs that you could help within your community, and contact them to see how you can help. Certain programs might need certain types of supplies (art supplies, notebooks, backpacks, pencils, etc.) in specific conditions (new, gently used, etc.) – so be sure to see what they really need.

What do you need to host a school supply drive?

  • A system for receiving donations… will you have a staff member accept donations from customers, or will there be a box or a bin in a common area?
  • Adequate space for storing donations. Best case scenario- your school supply drive will be a huge success! Now, where are you going to safely store all of those supplies? Make sure you have boxes, tape and markers for storing and labeling donations.
  • Timing for when to begin the drive, and how long you will accept donations.
  • A goal for success. See if you can meet the entire wish list for a school!

After sorting out the logistics, you need to promote your school supply drive! Use fliers in store, take out an ad in your local paper, and advertise on various social media channels. Make sure to include important information like:

  • The dates of the drive
  • Various locations for donations
  • What supplies to bring and in what condition you will accept them
  • Purpose of your school supply drive
  • Incentive for donations (if applicable)

As an added “thank you” to customers that donate, consider offering them a 10% discount coupon for their next purchase (if you own / operate a retail store), or a free coffee or dessert from your menu  (if you own / operate a restaurant). Not necessary, but a fun way to thank your customers, for sure, and encourage their involvement!

If you have multiple stores, you could create an incentive contest. At Starbucks, we found incentive contests to really drive engagement of the store teams and thus their customers. Winning store gets a party for the team and their customers!

You could also do a kick-off event to create a celebration in your location. Invite representatives from the school or program to be at the event and speak about their students. If not a kick-off event, you could also consider a wrap-up celebration. For either event, consider inviting the media to cover your event and that could mean free publicity!

After the drive, sort and package the supplies for your chosen school. Often, it’s helpful to divide them up by type of supply (notebooks, pencils, art supplies, etc.) After they are sorted, drop them off at the specified location.

Lastly, don’t forget to thank your contributors! Take to the social media airwaves and advertise in store to let people know how you did! Reference your cause, and inform them of how many donations you received – your customers will want to know that they helped make a difference in their community! Plus, it will help generate buzz for your next in-store charity event, and solidify you as part of the community.

If a school supply drive is right up your alley, you might also enjoy Charity: Book Drive. Check it out!

Photo Source: flickr.com/photos/jonathangarcia/3748383024/