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Nonprofits often need to be creative with their approaches to fundraising, which means finding new but proven revenue-generating strategies. Believe it or not, athletic shoes may be just the right unique twist your organization needs!

Fundraising is vital for all organizations, so take a creative approach to generate any and all revenue possibilities. Ready to find out how athletic footwear can boost your organization’s funds? Let’s dive straight in!

athletic shoe fundraiser

1. Host a Running Shoe Drive Fundraiser

When you partner with an athletic shoe drive fundraising coordinator, you’ll receive money just for collecting supporters’ sneakers. It’s a great way to boost funds and get your supporters more involved.

Plus, it’s easy to do and requires minimal extra work from your team. Here’s how it works:

  1. Collect gently worn, used and new running shoes.
  2. Ship the shoes (usually in a pre-paid bag).
  3. Receive a check in the mail.

Most people have sneakers lying around that they no longer want or wear. Instead of letting them toss out perfectly good running shoes, encourage them to rehome them.

This way, they’ll feel as if they’re making a positive difference in your nonprofit while also clearing out much-needed space in their homes.

Also read: Fundraising Resources for Environmental Nonprofits

2. Revamp Your Current Fundraising Events

It’s easy for nonprofits to fall into a routine of hosting the same type of events over and over again. The best part about a running shoe drive fundraiser is that it can be coordinated with nearly any fundraiser you host. Plus, you can put a twist on traditional nonprofit events. That way, you’ll never run out of effective fundraising ideas. For instance, try coordinating one with the following classic fundraisers:

The possibilities are endless. In fact, the event doesn’t even have to be sports-related. You can always encourage participants to bring a pair of gently worn, used or new running shoes to any of your events. For instance, if you’re hosting a community fair, you can charge running shoes in place of an entry fee. The only limit is your imagination!

Not only does adding an athletic shoe drive fundraiser revamp your current event efforts, but it generates additional revenue, too.

3. Give Supporters a New Way to Give

Donors support your cause because they see it as worthy. They want to continue giving, but at times, it’s challenging to stay engaged. However, when you introduce the idea of an athletic shoe drive fundraiser, they might just be intrigued and eager to participate!

For instance, re-engage your supporters by hosting a completely different type of fundraiser, such as a mud run or an obstacle course. You can charge a pair of athletic shoes as entry or have them hand off their gently worn, used or new sneakers at any point. They’ll enjoy cleaning out their closets while also supporting a cause for which they care.

To take a different approach, host a running shoe drive fundraiser as a standalone event. Then, recruit your donors and other supporters as volunteers. When you put them in charge, supporters may feel more connected with your cause, feeling as though they’re giving more than ever. The point is, most supporters lose interest unless you consistently engage with them. To avoid donor and volunteer burnout, give them a new, innovative way to give.

4. Appeal to a Different Type of Donor

Even though a supporter may have a powerful passion for giving, they may not have the capacity to give. In other words, they feel strongly about your cause, but they don’t have the financial stability to donate.

Donors come in many forms. In fact, they don’t always have to contribute financially. They can donate other useful items to support your cause, such as running shoes.

By asking people to donate their spare athletic shoes, you open up the door for supporters to give back without donating money. 

Plus, donors will recognize the steps you’re taking to provide everyone with a chance to give. Not only does this bring your nonprofit new donors, but it also makes current supporters feel more connected with your organization.

5. Get the Whole Community Involved

Hosting inclusive events means creating chances for everyone to participate. That way, you can attract the most potential supporters and get your whole community involved.

To encourage the entire community to participate in your running shoe drive fundraiser, do the following:

  • Conduct community outreach. Post flyers around town and encourage your supporters to spread the word to friends and family.
  • Actively promote your fundraiser online. Make use of email and social media marketing. After all, most of your supporters are online.
  • Tailor your event to the community. Center your event or even just its theme around community members’ interests. That way, more people will be intrigued to attend.

Generally, some people are more willing to participate in a campaign if they can take some concrete, tangible action. While this may be financial donations in many cases, it can also be donating sneakers. Plus, donors will know exactly what they’re giving and what their donation will do.

Whatever approach you take, make sure you don’t limit yourself to only your current supporters. Instead, invite the whole community to participate.

6. Make it a Group Fundraising Effort

To get supporters more involved, turn it into a group effort. In this hands-on approach, have volunteer participants collect the athletic shoes for you!

Group fundraising can take many forms. For instance, consider the following:

  • Collecting in local places. For instance, go to your local farmer’s market or partner with a local sporting goods store.
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising.  As an added twist, treat it like a peer-to-peer fundraiser where participants compete to collect the most sneakers possible.
  • Door-to-door campaigning. Depending on where you live, this approach may not be safe.  However, it may still work well in close know communities.

Also read: 5 Effective Year-End Fundraising Strategies Your Nonprofit May Be Overlooking

7. Support Other Communities

By donating athletic shoes, your community will enable workforce expansion for in-need countries. Donated sneakers help small business owners in impoverished nations: they can sell them for a profit, enabling them to support themselves and their families.

The impact doesn’t stop there, though! This kind of fundraiser directly impacts the lives of those who buy from these small business owners. In other words, your community’s gently worn, used and new running shoes enhance people’s quality of life in a developing country.

When hosting your next event, make sure to leverage this information. That way, supporters will contribute more, feel more connected to your cause, and make more of an impact. Plus, you’ll generate more revenue in the process.

8. Decrease Your Carbon Footprint

Recycling running shoes does more than just boost your nonprofit’s funds. If supporting other communities isn’t enough to get you on board, consider the eco-friendliness of it all. This is a great selling point for donors!

For supporters, figuring out what to do with old running shoes can be difficult. More often than not, they just throw them away, sending them to harmful landfills. By giving supporters an opportunity to rehome sneakers, you save the environment and generate some extra funds for your nonprofit.

Even if your organization doesn’t focus on an environmental issue, you can still be eco-conscious. Plus, you’ll likely catch the attention of a few new supporters.

By participating in an eco-friendly running shoe drive fundraiser, many community members will think more highly of your organization, boosting your support and your funds. Demonstrate an environmentally-conscious strategy and make people proud to support your cause!

If your nonprofit wants to fully go green, don’t stop here. Learn about more ideas to boost your environmental efforts.

When it comes to fundraising, nonprofits need to stay on top of their game. Otherwise, they’ll lose the attention and support of their communities. By adding a running shoe drive fundraiser to your repertoire of fundraising ideas, you’ll experience many benefits.

From boosting your revenue to saving the environment, an athletic shoe drive fundraiser will help you meet all your fundraising goals!


About the author:

Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises (EE) and a member of the Forbes Business Development Council. Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Sneakers4Funds, which is a social enterprise that helps schools, churches, nonprofits, individuals and other organizations raise funds while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations.

wayne elsey


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