Low upfront costs, easy to organize and benefiting both your community and others — an athletic shoe drive is the ultimate fundraising addition! Learn more about conducting your own drive.

Effective fundraising is essential for the survival of any nonprofit, and because of this, you’ve probably already encountered a few popular methods for doing so. From silent auctions to walk-a-thon races, many nonprofits have pinpointed successful strategies to raise money for their causes.

While there’s nothing wrong with tried and true fundraising methods, that doesn’t mean you can’t enhance them!

With low upfront costs and a high return, an athletic shoe drive might be the perfect addition to your upcoming campaign. Through one of these drives, you collect gently worn, used and new athletic shoes from donors. After donating these athletic shoes and sending them to Sneakers4Funds, you receive a check for your organization!

Check out three strategies for how these drives can help you raise funds for your organization:

Athletic shoe drives are easy to execute, can be paired with almost any activity, and have proven benefits to both your organization and the community! Read on as we break down each of the above points further.

donating athletic shoes: picture of person holding athletic shoes

Athletic Shoe Drives: A Step-by-Step Overview

So, you’ve decided to conduct an athletic shoe drive for your organization. Where do you go from there?

If you’re planning to pair your athletic shoe drive with a larger event, you probably don’t have the time to make it an exhaustive effort. As you know, you can’t overwork your volunteers and continue to be an effective nonprofit!

Luckily, Sneakers4Funds has created an easy process for donating new and gently worn athletic shoes. Check it out:

  1. Collect gently worn, used and new athletic shoes from your donors.

The process begins with reaching out to your donors and collecting sneakers! Ask people to check their closets for athletic shoes—are there any recently outgrown pairs they’ve meant to dispose of responsibly? Maybe some that were quickly replaced with a newer model?

Ask your community to contribute these athletic shoes to your fundraiser, and once they do, their job is done! Quick and easy. 

  1. Prepare for transport by packing the collected athletic shoes in a prepaid shipping bag. 

Now the ball is in your court, but no worries—your job is fairly easy from this point on.

Sneakers4Funds provides prepaid shipping bags to help you complete this transaction. All you need to do is pack the athletic shoes into the bags. You’ll have to remember to either lace pairs together or rubber band each pair of sneakers so they travel connected. Each bag will hold 10-15 pairs of sneakers. 

  1. Ship the athletic shoes to the Sneakers4Funds warehouse via your closest UPS provider.

Because the athletic shoes get packed in prepaid shipping bags, all you need to do is drop them off at your nearest UPS store and send the bags on their merry way!

  1. Watch the mail. A check is on the way!

Once the athletic shoes are shipped, you will receive the corresponding check from Sneakers4Funds. Remember, the more sneakers you collect, the more money you will receive. Happy fundraising!

For more information on Sneakers4Funds’ process for repurposing running shoes, read here

An athletic shoe drive allows you to raise money without expending much cost—from you or your donors! However, an athletic shoe drive may be an entirely new and unfamiliar concept for many of your donors. 

You might be asking: how do organizations successfully incorporate these drives into their fundraising events?

The answer is by pairing these drives with a larger fundraising event. 

Read on for a few fundraiser ideas that pair well with athletic shoe drives.

Ideas for Your Athletic Shoe Drive

You’re ready to conduct your athletic shoe drive, but now the question becomes—what’s the best event to host your drive?

The fun thing about athletic shoe fundraisers is that you can combine them with a wide variety of events and get creative! Whether you’re just starting a nonprofit and tackling your very first event, or are a seasoned fundraising professional planning the year’s biggest event, an athletic shoe drive fundraiser can be a valuable addition. 

While you can take the planning of the larger fundraising event in virtually any direction, we’ve narrowed down a few categories that might help in your brainstorming:

Explore the many types of 5K races

A 5K, or even 10K, race matches beautifully with the concept of athletic shoe drive fundraisers. What do you wear when running? Sneakers, of course!

However, you don’t have to confine your fundraiser to just a straight-forward road race.

Creative twists on the 5K, such as:

  • Obstacle course elements
  • Inviting leashed family dogs
  • Adding a costume contest
  • Checkpoints with food challenges

…All add a level of excitement to the traditional race concept! Check out the Sneakers4Funds blog post on 21 Awesome 5K Fundraiser Ideas for more inspiration.

Get the Event Fundraising Handbook

Family-friendly events

Outdoor family-friendly events are perfect facilitators for an athletic shoe drive. In bringing families together in fun outdoor activities, raising money for your organization, and donating sneakers that will positively impact other communities, everyone benefits!

Consider hosting a field day, carnival, or scavenger hunt and inviting families from your community to join—and bring their new and gently used sneakers to donate!

Partner with a school

Parents get inundated with fundraising initiatives asking them to donate money throughout the year. Meanwhile, a school full of growing children means quite a few outgrown sneakers.

An athletic shoe drive is a refreshing way to engage the school community while also exposing your drive to a large pool of potential donors. Further, education funding is sparse—if anyone could use the benefits of an athletic shoe drive fundraiser, it’s educational professionals!  

donating athletic shoes: photo of person wearing converse sneakers

Draw inspiration from the season

The holidays inspire a certain affinity for giving, and quite a few of them align well with the concept of an athletic shoe drive.

You can find events year-round that pair well with drives, such as Easter egg hunts in the spring, “Trunk or Treat” events in the fall, and even “Jingle Bell Runs” in the winter. 

Play on friendly competition

Just last year, Cycle Across Illinois raised almost $50,000 for their cause with a physical fitness-based fundraiser. Can you imagine how much they would have raised if they had included a sneaker drive component?

We know that athletes get drawn to fundraisers where they can challenge their abilities to the fullest, whether that’s a marathon, a bike race, or even a golf tournament. Putting on one of these events and asking each athlete and spectator to bring a spare pair of athletic shoes is sure to bring in quite a few donations for your cause. 

Looking for more fundraising ideas for your next event? Check out Double the Donation’s comprehensive list of 145+ Fundraising Ideas

Why Athletic Shoe Drives Work

You now know that athletic shoe drives are easy to execute. You also have ideas as to which events pair best with the concept. But, honestly, do these events really work?

Yes. Further, in addition to raising funds for your organization, these drives have a plethora of other benefits you may not have noticed. 

Raise Money… Without Spending Money

This benefit is obvious, but that’s not to mean it should be overlooked.

The whole reason you’re holding a fundraiser is to raise money for your organization, and an athletic shoe drive fundraiser is an incredibly efficient way to do so.

You’re collecting sneakers your donors were likely not using and looking to get rid of in a socially responsible way. So, you’re inherently providing a service to your community. Further, you’re not buying a product (or paying for shipping), so the cost on your end is low as well!

Invite a New Type of Donor

Every person interested in donating might not be in a financial position to do so. Thus, inviting donors to contribute gently used athletic shoes removes the pressure of coming up with a financial contribution during the fundraiser.

This allows nonprofits to meet their donors where they are now, allowing them to donate without having to worry about the financial barriers to doing so. You’re more likely to bring in donors when there are multiple options for giving, rather than just financial contributions!

Donor Engagement Tactics for 2020

Ending the “Fundraising Rut”

Your community likely has participated in quite a few fundraisers in the past few months, let alone during the year. An athletic shoe drive is a unique way to break that rut of candy sales and magazine subscriptions. It allows donors to contribute something they were probably looking to part with anyway—gently used sneakers.

Further, when you’re dealing with an abundance of fundraising events, it might be beneficial to choose fundraising methods that will have a bigger impact. This way, you can aim to hold fewer events and avoid fundraiser fatigue. The low cost of an athletic shoe drive allows the event to have a lasting impact. 

Unite Your Community

The most successful athletic shoe drives are combined with another event, whether it’s a race, a field day or a holiday celebration. The possibilities are endless!

What these events have in common is that they bring together the members of your community for social good. Further, as the next points will illustrate, the benefits will reach far past your community alone!

Help Other Communities

Certain fundraising methods have come under fire recently, such as sales-based fundraisers, for questions regarding who the effort really benefits. Is it the fundraiser or the company providing a product to be sold?

These worries get erased with an athletic shoe drive. There are little to no startup costs, and as the donated sneakers help small business people in developing nations thrive, it’s easy to see that this type of fundraiser has genuine intentions!

Help the Environment

Every pair of sneakers donated gets a second life. That means that entirely usable athletic shoes will still be put to use—even if their original owners have moved on to new pairs.

This eco-friendly decision helps keep perfectly good sneakers out of our country’s growing landfills. It’s something that has positive effects far outreaching those coming directly from the drive!

Your organization needs steady fundraising revenue to continue benefiting the communities you serve. While there’s nothing wrong with relying on tried and true fundraising methods, who’s to say you can’t spice things up a little?

An athletic shoe drive may be the perfect addition to your upcoming fundraising campaign. You can help your donors get rid of unwanted sneakers, benefit other communities and raise funds for your organization—especially when combined with a fun event!

About the Author

headshot of wayne elsey

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.


Want to learn more?

Request a demo and learn more about Mightycause.

Request a Demo


Leave a Reply