Stepping Up Your Donation Pickups

Donations are the lifeblood of your thrift operation. After all, you can only sell what you receive. Assuredly you will have donors bringing you donated items, but what about all the larger items in potential donors’ homes?


Providing a donation pickup service is a great way to grow your donation base. Furthermore, the average value of a donation pickup is nearly three times the value of a dropped off donation. So, let’s discuss how to make sure a donation pickup service is working for you.



As with many things in business, actions taken without intentional strategy have a higher probability of failing. With this is mind, make sure you take the time to have a donation pickup strategy.


Donation pickup strategies often start with the frequency of the service. Has a donation pickup service been requested by your donors? Based on your current donation flow at your thrift store or donation center, what do you project the demand for this service will be?


Demand is a great place to start when thinking through the frequency of a donation pickup service. You could consider running a truck one time a week, every other day, weekends only, or every day. Your donation pickup frequency needs to match your thrift operation.


When thinking through pickup frequency, two other large factors come into play – transportation assets and available labor. Do you lease or own your own box truck, or do you rent daily? Both are feasible options but must match your strategy and demand. Furthermore, a team member who can engage with donors well, drive a truck, and load/unload heavy items can be a rare find. Make sure you have the right team member in place to represent your brand well while speaking with donors and caring for the valuable product.


Product Qualification

Ultimately, donation pickup is a service that costs you money – labor costs, transportation costs, etc. Qualifying donations is a crucial step to making sure you are using this service as an asset to make you money and doesn’t become a liability.


Key matters to consider when qualifying potential donation pickups are:


·      Donation Value – What items does the donor have to donate? The volume and value of the donations must warrant us spending our time and paying for the gas to receive it. When donors have furniture, these items tend to have greater value and can be difficult for individuals to move. On the other hand, donors may also have one or two bags of clothes that could easily be brought to a donation location. What items are being donated can provide a great indicator on the value of the items.

·      Donation Location – Where are the items located? Could the donation be picked up in route to another donation pickup? Are you in the area often? To best utilize your transportation asset(s), be sure to set appropriate parameters on how far you will go for a donation pickup. Of course, exceptions can be made, but keep in mind the further you go the more money being spent to receive the donation.

·      Donation Condition – As with any donated item, the condition of the item will have a great impact on the potential value. Are the items in the requested donation pickup in good condition? One way to verify this is to receive current pictures of the donation or to ask pointed questions to evaluate the potential condition of the item sight unseen.


Pickup Opportunity


A donation pickup service can bring great product and ultimately further profitability to your thrift operation. The service also grants you the opportunity to share directly with a donor in their home about the impact of their donation. A pickup service gives you the opportunity to expand the brand and connect the thrift store to the endeavors in which it supports.


As you consider starting or developing your donation pickup service, we’d be happy to help! If you have any questions, please reach out to the SMCo Thrift team. You can also consider using our tool, PickUpMyDonation, to start receiving donation requests in your inbox now!

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