Give box schemes

Setting up a Give Box scheme can be a simple and effective way to give unwanted items a new home, address a particular need in a community, or support a charity’s appeal.

Book swap in a phone box - photo source: are a few different versions of a ‘Give Box’ out there. These are just a few:

•    A large, open cupboard, placed in a public area, where people can drop off and pick up second-hand goods. People come and go as they please.
•    An open shelf in a place where a lot of people go (a hotel, youth hostel, office etc or even a phone box), where people can leave or take books.
•    A scheme where people put items for charity in a box and give/post it to the charity to sell/donate.
•    A box in a closed area such as an office, village hall or library, where people can donate items for a local charity, food bank, home start service etc.

Why set up a give box?

•    It encourages re-use, so benefits the environment.
•    It can be used just to encourage re-use behaviour in general.
•    It can be to generate donations for charity/homeless people.
•    For a business such as a hotel, it can be seen as a service they are offering for guests e.g. if guests don’t have a book, they are free to take one.
•    For the general public, it can be a way of getting free items.

Planning a give box

Do you want to involve members of the local community, a closed group such as staff, or anyone?

Do you want to make it a permanent fixture, or a short-term campaign?

Depends very much on the “Who” above, so it could be in an office, a hotel/youth hostel/B&B, a village hall/library or somewhere that the community can access it, but it’s relatively safe and only open when there is someone to monitor it, or make it fully accessible 24/7, so a shed/old phone box/bus stop.

Advertise through the local press, social media, emails, posters, local radio, websites and don’t forget word-of-mouth. Tell local organisations such as the council, schools, libraries etc as they may be able to advertise your facility. Invite journalists to visit.

Have A-boards/posters/road signs/banners/ bunting outside the facility if appropriate.
Be specific about what you are collecting i.e. is it anything, books, food (in which case does it need to be tinned/long-life) etc.

Be clear as to who the “Give Box” benefits i.e. is it for community benefit, to grow re-use, to raise funds for charity etc. If it’s for charity, provide some information on the charity.


Pass it on with through a give box schemeUnless your “Give Box” is staffed, it’s difficult to enforce rules, but you may want to have some suggested rules such as;
• Feel free to take one item for every one item donated.
• Make sure everything donated is of a good quality
• If you are asking for food donations, it may be that you want them to be tinned, in packets, with a certain shelf-life etc.

Ongoing or after the project’s end

Taking photos is a good idea to keep promoting the facility (you might want to have a social media page where you can share photos, stories about the best things donated, how much money has been raised so far etc.

Evaluation; consider forms of evaluation in order to monitor the success of the project. A few statistics can help demonstrate the success of your Give Box scheme and encourage greater participation.

Do tell us about your Give Box scheme.

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