We have been asked a few times since we started our campaign, what tips we would give to those hoping to organise their own sanitary product drive. So here are a few of my best tips!
- Test the water
Before we officially launched our campaign, both Sophie and I posted Facebook statuses to see whether our Facebook friends would be interested in offering donations. You can use whatever social media platform works best for you. The likelihood is that the majority of your donations will come in this way, so don’t underestimate the power of social media.
- Find a charity
Once we had gauged the reaction online, we contacted a number of different homeless shelters in our local area. This is a long process, so get emailing! Explain what you want to do and ask whether this is something the shelter would benefit from. A lot of the time you may not even get a response, but keep trying and eventually someone will get back to you. In our case, the only place that got back to us was The Whitechapel Centre in Liverpool. Liverpool is approximately 190 miles from our home town but it was something we were really passionate about, so we arranged a date to visit the shelter in order to put a deadline on the campaign.
- Think of a name and set a target
It is useful to have a name to brand yourself with. This should be punchy and relevant, but a hint of humour always helps!
Set a target for the number of packets of sanitary products you aim to collect. This gives you and your supporters something to aim for. Although we set our target as 50 packets at the time, we ended up collecting approximately 300 packets by the end of a month of campaigning.
It also helps if you set an end date to a particular project. This focuses your mind towards a goal and ensures that the general public know they have a deadline to get their products in by.
- Use Social Media
As I mentioned above, social media is an incredibly important tool. Find a platform that you’re comfortable with and create an account or a page specifically for your campaign. We chose Facebook, and found that our project was able to spread incredibly rapidly once we had started uploading content and asking our friends to share our posts.
Make sure you respond to messages and comments, no matter whether they’re positive or negative. A suggestion online might lead you to finding a new way of marketing your project, which in turn could boost donations.
- Set up an Amazon wish list
In a digital age, not everyone has the time to go to post office to send you donations from afar.
Sites such as Amazon allow users to create a wish list, where you can cherry pick the sanitary towels and tampons you want to receive. I chose items which had no delivery charge on them, in order to save the donors some money and create more of an incentive to donate. With this tool you can have donations delivered to your door in a way that is more convenient for online shoppers, without the worry of publicising where you live.
- Use your contacts
Whether you’re at school, university or at work, you will have a range of contacts at your disposal. Use them! Send out an email to your colleagues (if appropriate) or put posters around your school/campus. People feel good when they donate to charity, and when it’s a cause as important and eyebrow raising as this one you’re bound to attract the best kind of attention for your campaign.
- Get in touch with your local newspaper
If you’re after even more donations and want to involve people in your local area, you could contact your local newspaper and ask them to include a feature about your cause in their next edition. Most of the time local papers love to talk about campaigns and charity projects from residents in their readership area – an interview could help to boost donations and promote your campaign even further.
- Know your issue
If you follow step 7 and are approached for a news interview, make sure you’ve brushed up on the issues. You’re likely to be asked where you got the idea for the campaign, what inspired you, how you’ve run things and what response you’ve gained.
When you’re discussing periods and homelessness, it doesn’t hurt to have some knowledge on the various petitions that have been circulating the internet. Get some statistics together and work out why you’re really passionate about the cause you’re campaigning for.
That’s the end of my list of tips! The thought behind the campaign is a serious one, but do remember to enjoy the process and be creative. Although numbers can be a great motivation, even one packet of sanitary products could make a massive difference to a woman who has been living on the streets with nothing to stop her period but dirty rags.
Good luck and thanks for reading,
~ Sanya 🙂