Get started with recycling fundraisers by reading this guide.

Getting Started With Recycling Fundraisers: A Complete Guide

Environmental friendliness has long been a popular subject of discussion and debate. For organizations who are busy working towards their missions and causes, it can be easy to forget about conserving the environment. We only have one Earth, and it’s everyone’s duty to protect it.

An easy way for organizations to be more involved in conserving the environment is by promoting clothing recycling. In the United States, the recycling rate for textiles is a surprisingly low 15%, despite the initiatives dedicated to raising that number. Your organization can contribute by hosting recycling fundraisers that keep quality clothing and shoes out of landfills.

To help you host your very own recycling fundraiser, this guide will cover the following:

Although people tend to focus on reducing and reusing, recycling is no less important. The U.S. alone is responsible for over 26 billion pounds of textile waste every year, with the average American generating 82 pounds of textile waste annually. Everyone must do their part and put in a genuine effort to save the planet.

By the end of this guide, you’ll see that helping the environment through recycling can be convenient and beneficial for your organization’s goals. Let’s get started!

Click to learn more about hosting a recycling fundraiser with Phill the Box.

What Is A Recycling Fundraiser?

There are multiple definitions for recycling fundraisers. However, when it’s all boiled down, this type of event simply uses recycled or recyclable materials to raise funds for an organization.

For example, your organization could enlist volunteers to collect their bottles and cans and exchange the collected items for cash at a bottle bill collection center, recycling center, or scrap yard. Then, you can put the funds towards helping your nonprofit’s mission.

Another example of a recycling fundraiser is a clothing drive. For this type of event, you’ll ask your nonprofit’s supporters to give you their gently-used, good-condition clothing. Then, host a thrift-store-style event where attendees can purchase clothing that they like. After the event is over, recycle any leftover clothing with an organization that will give you cash in exchange for clothing by the pound.

What Are The Benefits Of A Recycling Fundraiser?

This image shows the benefits of a recycling fundraiser, which are detailed in the text below.

Maybe your organization is still getting off the ground and needs to establish a strong foundation. Or, you’re a small nonprofit and your capacity to generate impact barely extends to your beneficiaries, let alone anyone else. You may be thinking, I’d love to help out the environment, but right now, I need to focus on my mission. And it seems like a recycling fundraiser event won’t help my nonprofit in the way I need it to.

Even in these scenarios, a recycling fundraiser can significantly help your organization. These events can benefit you by:

  • Raising funds for your cause. Hosting a recycling fundraiser doesn’t take away from your capacity to generate revenue. For example, some supporters may be unable to make a financial gift to your organization, but they may be able to give you their time and items instead. Furthermore, you can also ask for cash contributions on top of requesting in-kind gifts.
  • Increasing support. People like recycling fundraisers because it allows them to get rid of unwanted items without having to worry about where they should dispose of them. This means that more individuals will be likely to support your organization by giving you their items.
  • Strengthening bonds within the community. When individuals band together to work towards a shared goal, they’ll naturally form stronger bonds with one another. Your organization reaps the benefits by facilitating these connections and making deeper bonds with your supporters.
  • Boosting your reputation. While community organizations often have positive reputations due to their purpose, a recycling fundraiser will show your community that you’re genuine about making a difference in the world. This will help boost your reputation.

When considering what your next event should be, don’t overlook recycling fundraisers as an option. Not only do they help you fulfill your purpose by generating revenue, but they bring you a variety of other benefits as well. And let’s not forget the benefits such an event will bring to the environment:

  • Heightened awareness. A recycling fundraiser calls to attention the state of the environment, heightening awareness around environmental sustainability and protecting the planet.
  • Increased eco-friendliness. The heightened awareness around environmental sustainability will cause your community to question their habits. This leads to a change in behavior, resulting in more eco-friendly practices for a greater number of people.

All of these factors combined will help protect the environment, and your organization can be the catalyst for that.

Click to learn more about hosting a recycling fundraiser with Phill the Box.

What Are The Steps To Hosting A Recycling Fundraiser?

This image shows a flowchart with the steps to hosting a recycling fundraiser, detailed in the text below.

Hosting a recycling fundraiser is similar to hosting any other fundraising event, but there are a few unique steps as well. Let’s walk through the process!

1. Establish The Type Of Event.

This image shows a variety of recycling fundraising event ideas, which are covered by the text below.

After you decide that you’d like to host a recycling fundraiser, choose the event type that best suits your organization’s goals. There are many different types of recycling fundraisers, including the following:

  • Recycling drive. For this community-wide event, you’ll ask supporters to bring in recyclable materials that you’ll sell to recycling centers. Determine what your local recycling centers will accept and collect those items, such as bottles, cans, e-waste, and clothing.
  • Recycling contest. This event is very similar to a recycling drive, but it incorporates gamification elements. Ask participants to collect as many recyclable items as possible within a set time period and reward those who collect the most items. Not only will you be able to sell the collected items, but you can also charge an entry fee to participate.
  • Sustainable sale. Promote environmental friendliness by selling sustainable products to your supporters. These could be reusable water bottles, shopping bags made from recycled plastic, or any other eco-friendly products. To acquire such products, partner with local businesses and companies that sell these items.
  • Upcycling workshops. Teach your community how to implement eco-friendly practices in their daily lives by hosting an upcycling workshop. Charge a fee to attend the workshop, where supporters will learn how to repurpose common household items, reducing their individual waste.
  • Awareness campaign. Best-suited for environmental organizations, use an awareness campaign to educate the greater community on the importance of your mission. Raise funds by asking individuals to make gifts to your organization to help you work toward fulfilling your cause.

Regardless of your organization’s mission and capabilities, there is a recycling fundraiser that will help you achieve your goals. If none of these ideas speak to you, brainstorm with your event team to come up with a recycling-focused event that best suits your organization.

2. Decide On A Recycling Organization To Partner With.

Organizing and hosting a recycling fundraiser can be a lot of work. Depending on the event you choose, you may need to process a large amount of recyclable items over a long period of time. For some organizations, this amount of work is a serious barrier to hosting a recycling fundraiser.

Luckily, some organizations are dedicated to helping organizations raise funds through recycling. If you’re worried about the effort it will take to host a recycling fundraiser, these organizations can streamline the process and make it more convenient.

Some recycling organizations you can partner with include:

  • Phill the Box. Phill the Box will pay your organization per pound of gently-used clothing and shoes you collect. With them, you can host a 1-day or 30-day clothing drive, and they’ll send out a truck to pick up all the clothing you’ve gathered.
  • Planet Green Recycle. This organization collects used ink and toner cartridges for printers, which they remanufacture into new cartridges that are less costly, use less energy and natural resources, and help reduce plastic waste. They’ll pay you for your cartridges and give you coupon codes so you can purchase their ink cartridges at a discount.
  • EcoPhones. This organization specializes in recycling electronics. EcoPhones accepts cell phones, ink cartridges, iPads, and more. They’ll pay for every item you collect, even broken and unlisted items. They’ll also help you ship your items to them for free.

Consider what your community has to offer recycling companies, and partner with an organization that specifically deals with those items. By doing so, you’ll increase your fundraising capacity with minimal extra effort on your part.

Click to learn more about how Phill the Box can help you host a recycling fundraiser.

3. Determine The Details.

After you’ve decided on the type of event you’re hosting and whether you’re partnering with a recycling organization, determine the specifics of the event. You’ll want to nail down the following details:

  • Budget. Determine how much of your funds you’ll allocate to this event, if you’ll need to acquire sponsors to fulfill your budget needs, and any other financial considerations.
  • Date and time. Set a date and time for your event early on to give you a more concrete timeline for your planning. Give yourself enough time to work out all the details and deal with any unexpected delays or obstacles.
  • Location. Depending on the event you’re hosting, you’ll have different needs for your venue. For example, for a clothing drive fundraiser, like Phill the Box, you will want to choose a visible, high-traffic location. A workshop, on the other hand, can be held indoors in a much smaller space.
  • Registration. Set up your event’s registration page. If you’re planning on charging a registration fee, ensure that attendees can pay securely with their method of choice.
  • Extra activities. Although your event is a recycling fundraiser, that doesn’t mean you can’t host any extra activities to keep attendees engaged. For example, you could add a concession stand to your event so attendees can purchase something to snack on while they shop.
  • Drop-off. Decide when and how you’ll drop off your collected items at a recycling center. If you’ve partnered with a recycling organization, like Phill the Box, they may take care of the drop-off for you. However, if you’re hosting your fundraiser without a partner, you may need to rent a truck or other large vehicle.

This step is where you’ll figure out the nitty-gritty of your event. Create a thorough, comprehensive event plan that covers all the details listed above and any other information that your organization needs to host a successful recycling fundraiser.

4. Promote Your Recycling Fundraiser.

After your event details are set in place, it’s time to attract as many attendees and participants as possible. To do that, strategically promote and market your recycling fundraiser through a variety of communication channels.

Organizations often promote their events through the following channels:

  • Website. When individuals want information about your organization, the first place they’re likely to look is your website. Include information about your upcoming recycling fundraiser on your landing pages to pique interest.
  • Direct mail. Invite existing supporters to participate in your event by sending them an invitation through direct mail. This gives them a tangible reminder about your event, and they’ll appreciate the extra effort you’ve made.
  • Email. Provide information about your recycling fundraiser in your email newsletters to your supporters. Build anticipation by sending out a save-the-date early on and giving sneak peeks of your event to encourage more people to register and attend.
  • Social media. Social media platforms are unparalleled when it comes to reaching the largest possible audience. Use Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok to reach potential attendees and raise awareness of your event.

Set yourself apart from other organizations by centering graphic design for your promotional materials. Not only will well-designed materials lend your organization a professional air, but they’ll also be more attractive to potential attendees. You can even take it a step further by creating video content to further engage your audience.

Click to learn more about hosting a recycling fundraiser with Phill the Box.

5. Accept Recyclable Items.


This image lists a variety of common items accepted at recycling fundraisers, detailed in the text below.

For a majority of recycling fundraisers, part of the event will involve collecting recyclable items. The specific items you accept will depend on a variety of factors, including the type of event you’re hosting and the recycling organization you partner with. Make the process easier for attendees by giving them a list of items they can give to your organization.

Common items that are accepted at recycling fundraisers include:

  • Clothing
  • Shoes
  • Accessories
  • Bed and bath linens
  • Electronics
  • Houseware
  • Books
  • Bottles and cans

Clarify any extra policies you might have for accepted items. For example, you might specify that items need to be new, gently used, or in working condition.

Before you begin accepting these items, make sure you have a storage location ready. Consider how many items you think you’ll receive and ensure that your storage can accommodate that number. Additionally, create a sorting system. For example, if you’re collecting a variety of different items, place similar items with one another. This will save you time when you’re ready to bring these items to a recycling center.

6. Receive Your Funds.

Decide whether you’ll give the collected items to your partner or a recycling center in increments as your recycling fundraiser is ongoing, or all at once at the end of the event. This will depend greatly on what type of event you’re hosting and the amount of storage space you have. For example, if you’re hosting a long-term recycling drive, arrange weekly or monthly pickups with your partner or bring a load of recyclable materials to the recycling center every two weeks.

After you turn in your items, you’ll receive funds from your partner or the recycling center. Most commonly, you’ll be paid per pound of items you collect. However, for some items such as electronics, you’ll be paid per item instead. Then, you can take these funds and put them toward your organization’s mission!

Additional Resources

Recycling fundraisers are a viable event for organizations of all sizes and types, whether you’re well-established or just starting out. They bring a variety of benefits to your organization and allow you to establish new relationships with recycling organizations. Consider how a recycling fundraiser can boost your organization’s operations!

If you want to learn more about recycling and environmental sustainability, check out the following resources:

Click to let Phill the Box help plan your recycling fundraiser.