4 Creative Ideas for Hosting a Thanksgiving Food Drive

Planning a Thanksgiving food drive or donation?

You may feel overwhelmed at even the prospect of reaching out to those you wish to invite. Getting creative, you can help increase the number of donations and attendees you receive even during the busy Thanksgiving holiday.


1. Use drop-off buckets and donation spots

One of the best ways to encourage those in a local community to donate food such as canned goods, is by using drop-off buckets and designated donation spots in public as well as retail areas.

If you have colorful or branded donation buckets that match your organization’s logo or color scheme, use them as identifiers for those who want to drop off donations.

You want them to be eye-catching!

*** If you are planning to use a drop-off bucket in a donation spot that is also near or on private commercial property, it is imperative to speak with the manager of the property. Even if you are placing a charity bucket somewhere, you still require permission from the owner or manager of the commercial property lot.


What to remember when using drop-off buckets for donations:

  • Use large enough boxes and buckets for accepting non-perishable food items

  • Include signage with instructions specifying the food type being collected

  • Identify who is collecting the food and where it is going somewhere on or by the bucket


2. Consider collecting online donations

Another method to get a jump start on your Thanksgiving food drive is to collect donations online. Using an online platform to collect donations can help you to raise more funds in less time and using those donations to purchase food.

Some people prefer to contribute online because of the flexibility that comes with that method of donating. There is a lot of software out there that makes collecting donations online easy and comes with small or zero processing fees.

Recommended software for collecting donations:

  • Purplepass 
  • Fundly
  • OneCause
  • DonorBox



software for collecting donations

Not just for tickets, it's easy to collect
donations and raise money for a cause.



Encouraging donations via an online platform can significantly increase the number of donations you receive and the total amount you can collect during this holiday season.


3. Conduct a competition or contest

If you want to have a little fun while preparing for your upcoming Thanksgiving food drive, consider hosting a competition or contest for those in the local area.

If there are multiple schools and rival neighborhoods in your area, you could host a competition that involves keeping track of donations from designated areas, teams, or groups. At the end of the collection period, designate a prize to the group that raised the most.

Pitting schools, groups of volunteers, and even entire neighborhoods against one another playfully in the name of charity is a great way to get citizens near you excited and engaged.

If you are thinking of hosting a contest or a competition, also consider the type(s) of prizes you will give out and what award you can grant to the winning team, group, or neighborhood. Sometimes, it may be possible to team up with local pizza shops or restaurants to provide gift cards or discounts for the winner.

Working with small local businesses is a great way to boost the morale in your community while also helping to give back to those providing for others near you, as well as your charity or organization.


Promoting your competition:

  • Post on social media

  • Go to schools or areas where the competition will be held and promote the event depending on who is competing. (For example, if through a school, teachers and staff can help get the students involved).

  • Post to local billboards and community calendars

  • Post to social media groups in the areas (Facebook groups and marketplaces).

  • Direct mail

  • Send out a newsletter or post in the community paper

  • Local radio shoutout


4. Host a local community event

Host a local community event with plenty of activities, games, and food to encourage citizens in your area to stop by and bring their donations.

Creating community events is a great way to engage the members of your community without pressuring them too much to participate or attend.


Hosting a local public community event with games, food, and even family-friendly activities could be an excellent way to boost the number of food donations you could receive this year.

If you are thinking of hosting a city-wide event, consider requiring a food donation for entry as opposed to selling tickets or attempting to collect cash for food directly.

Allowing individuals who wish to attend your community event to enter using a food donation is affordable for most and will provide them with their own opportunity to give back and to help a local charity.



A ticket registration for nonprofits

Create a registration where guests can
donate online, volunteer sign ups and more!



Increasing the number of Thanksgiving food donations you receive for your food drive or fundraiser does not have to feel lackluster this year.

By brainstorming and actively engaging with the community, you can maximize your reach for donations while spreading awareness of any cause you represent.

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