2 min Read
January 23, 2013

An idea that makes donating my clothes to the charity shop easier? Sign me up!

Madeleine Milan

It’s no secret that if you want your supporters to take action for your organization, you need to make it as easy as possible for them.

Want them to sign up for your enewsletter? Ask for as little information as possible. Tweet about your latest report? Give them a big “Tweet this” button and write a sample tweet for them. Call their representative? Give them an auto-magic tool that finds their congressperson and gives them a script to run through. You get the idea.

People are busy, and if you make it complicated or confusing for supporters to donate to, advocate for, or do anything else for your organization, chances are they’ll get bored or forgetful and wander off before completing the task at hand.

On a recent trip back to the UK, I saw a great example of an organization making it easier for their supporters to take one of the most laborious and dull offline actions in the nonprofit world… donating their unwanted stuff to the charity shop.

Oxfam’s Tag Your Bag scheme is pretty simple. Oxfam wants people who donate their used belongings to sign up for Gift Aid (a UK government initiative that allows charities to reclaim the tax on donations from UK tax-payers). But to do that, you have to fill in a boring tax form every time you drop off your gently-worn mantyhose, which declares you’re a UK taxpayer and that you’re happy for Oxfam to reclaim tax on your donation. Tag Your Bag cleverly lets you skip that step: Fill in a form once, get a sheet of labels with a unique identifier on them, stick one on your bag of dusty old mandals and BINGO. No more boring tax forms and the added warm, fuzzy feeling from knowing your donation is worth 28% more to the organization.

And the really clever thing about it? The nice green labels give you a subtle nudge to donate to Oxfam every time you pass your pinboard. Their clear Oxfam-y branding keeps Oxfam at the top of your mind AND makes you feel even better about Oxfam because they made your life that little bit easier for you. Smart stuff. (If you’re interested in more info about how they developed this idea and how it works, check out the case study from the agency that developed it for them.)

Any other examples of nonprofits making it easy-peasy for their supporters to take important actions to support them (or ideas for how a similar scheme could make taking clothes to the thrift store easier here??)? Let us know in the comments.