This article was written by Katie Pemberton.
With the holidays fast approaching, many of us Memphians are starting to think about what special way we can give back to our community this year. Hosting your own supply drive is a fan favorite way for people to support local nonprofits, because it’s interactive and gets other people involved.
For some nonprofits, the best way you can help them is by donating money. Some groups just don’t have much use for “material goods” or stuff. But some absolutely do—like Memphis Animal Services (MAS). As your city animal shelter, MAS enforces animal care and control laws, helps keep pets in their loving homes, and works to achieve positive outcomes for the pets in their care.
In 2021, MAS has cared for over 7,000 animals (saving nearly 90 percent of them) and has helped nearly 6,000 families keep their pets. To do so requires a LOT of food, treats, toys, doghouses, baby animal formula, litter, and more. Take a look at how item donations help us:
- Improve the experience of pets while they’re here, reducing stress
- Recruit and retain foster parents by providing them any supplies they need
- Send pets on transports
- Provide families with food and supplies they need to care for their pets
- Feed pets who require special diets
Anyone can host a supply drive, no matter who you are or how big your business is!
Logan Scharfetter is only 7 years old, and he ran a successful supply drive for MAS for his birthday—requesting to receive food, toys, and other cat supplies instead of presents.
“Logan chose MAS because we fostered and then adopted his cat June from MAS,” said his mom Leah. “He wanted to help change the lives of other cats in the shelter just like he did for June. It’s not too common that a 7-year-old happily gives up toys to support cats at the local shelter, but friends and family were so generous with their donations that we needed a cart to bring everything into the shelter.”
Memphis-based pet supply store Hollywood Feed hosts frequent supply drives for many animal rescues and shelters. Every year, each of their store locations selects a local organization to benefit with an Angel Tree.
“To know that we helped bring a pet comfort and care while it is awaiting a forever home means everything to us,” said Anne Ross, Hollywood Feed Director of Marketing & Merchandising. “It is our hope that the supplies provided will help increase the livelihood and longevity of the pets served by MAS so that they may find their forever homes and bring that love and comfort to a family.”
But you don’t have to be a pet-related business to host a successful supply drive! Eclectic Eye in midtown selects a local nonprofit to support each holiday season, and their animal-loving staff chose MAS in 2018.
“It makes it quick and easy for people in the community to participate,” said Lindy Faulkner, Director of Operations at Eclectic Eye. “Holiday drives also give us the opportunity to meet and connect with new people who stop by to donate but have never shopped at our store.”
Even businesses without physical locations can get in on the fun. Smash Studios Photography, owned by Ashley Olberding, is hosting its second annual donation drive benefiting MAS this year. Ashley chose MAS in honor of Granger, her dog she adopted from the shelter.
Without a physical location for supporters to bring items to, Smash Studios has set up a Venmo account for people to donate funds to be used to purchase needed items. Smash Studios promoted the effort on social media, and, in just two weeks, collected enough funds to purchase 120 items!
If a supply drive sounds like something you’d like to initiate for your group of friends/family, school, church, business, club, etc., it’s very simple.
Let’s walk through it:
- Choose the organization you’d like to benefit and do some research. See if they list needed items on their website. MAS’s list is available on our website and links to wish lists locally from Hollywood Feed and Superlo Foods, as well as Amazon.
- Optional: Contact your nonprofit of choice and let them know your plans—typically you’ll need to speak to someone in community outreach or fundraising. They may have special item requests or specific ways they can support you. For example, MAS can customize a donation flyer for you if desired, as well as give you a tour of the shelter upon drop-off of your donations. If you’re supporting MAS with your supply drive, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
- Decide what dates you’ll accept donations and how you’ll receive them:
- Will there be a central location(s)?
- Will you collect money and then buy the items yourself?
- Ask for donations! This can be done many ways, depending on the group you’re working with:
- Ask in person when the group is gathered
- Make personal asks via text, phone call, email, or letter
- Post flyers (which we can help with!)
- Post on social media. You can even set up a Facebook group or event to build excitement and provide all the information.
- If you opted to collect funds, purchasing the items is your next step. If you do this, I recommend checking with the organization you’re supporting to see what their most current needs are.
- Set up a time to drop off your donations. Contact the nonprofit to see if they would prefer you make an appointment or just walk in. At MAS, you can drop off donations anytime, but we would love the opportunity to thank you in person, give you a tour of the shelter, and take a photo for social media (only if you agree!), so emailing us to make an appointment is ideal, but not necessary.
Who’s ready to give the good ole supply drive a go?