Think of all the things you do in a single day that involve technology. From checking the morning news to logging into your mobile banking app, to being productive and efficient at work on your laptop computer, technology governs much of what we do at work, home, in the car, and just about everywhere in between.
Now imagine that your circumstances were different and you didn’t have access to all the technology you need to accomplish everyday tasks, complete school or work assignments, or connect with friends and family across the miles. For some people right in your community, this lack of available technology is their reality, and it can negatively impact virtually every aspect of their lives.
For example, students living in under served communities tend to have access to fewer devices and lower-quality Internet access than students who are not disadvantaged. Over time, this disparity can contribute to what is known as the “digital divide:” an ever-widening gap between those with sufficient knowledge of and access to technology and those without. For instance, a student with high-speed Internet and several devices, including laptop computers and smartphones, at their disposal is likely to have more educational success than a student who has a dial-up connection and one computer to share with multiple family members. And that student is still likely to experience greater educational achievement than another student with no Internet access at home who must use a library computer to complete assignments.
So, what can we as a community do to empower those who are at risk of being left behind due to a lack of available technology? A number of school districts have been successful at receiving donations of gently used laptops, tablets, smartphones, and more by coordinating a technology drive. It’s not just the big-ticket items that are needed by disadvantaged members of the community either; small tech-related accessories like surge protectors, charging cords and wholesale earbuds in bulk, or even are a most welcome addition to any technology drive!
School headsets such as AVID’s AE-79 USB deluxe headset can be big-ticket items for technology drives to benefit schools in under served areas. If students in your community are able to donate headsets and headphones, these are always welcome!
People become more interested in giving back to their community around holidays, so hosting a technology drive could greatly benefit disadvantaged people in need of the devices that can help them stay ahead in our modern world. A technology drive isn't just for Christmas, Hanukkah or Diwali -- you can hold a technology drive centered around any holiday or theme. Here’s how you can organize a technology drive in your community.
Step 1: Hammer out the basics
Where will your technology drive be held? What date and time should people bring their donations? What types of technology do you plan to accept at the drive? Make a list of questions about the basic details of your technology drive and answer them so you have a better idea of what you hope to accomplish.
Step 2: Get the word out
Once you have the details nailed down, let the rest of the community know about it! Start publicizing your technology drive at least two weeks in advance so your neighbors will have time to get their donations together. Take advantage of as many advertising channels as you can—including social media, email, and posters—to generate interest about the drive and motivate people to participate. Be sure to specify which types, makes, models, brands, and model years of technological devices you will accept to avoid confusion or hurt feelings, and don’t forget to mention that all devices should be in good working condition unless you have the resources to have them repaired.
Step 3: Keep track of donations
On the day of the event, be sure to have a system in place to catalog and test all donations for functionality. It might also be a good idea to organize the donations by type so you can quickly and easily distribute them to people in need. If you plan to offer a tax receipt or thank-you note to donors, be sure to log their contact information as part of the donation process. Maintaining an up-to-date spreadsheet or database with donor information can also help in future fundraising or donation endeavors, as it will allow you to inform participants about upcoming events.
Step 4: Have a distribution plan
Now that you’ve held a successful technology drive, what’s next? If you’ve partnered with a local charity or nonprofit organization that will be distributing the devices to families in need, you should deliver them to their headquarters or arrange for a pickup by one of their volunteers. Keep in mind that the holiday season is a very busy time of year for nonprofits and they might have a cutoff date for all items to be collected in time for distribution this year. Be sure to check with your partner organization for specifics on pickup or drop off, deadlines or any other information you need to create your plan for getting the donated electronics into the right hands.
Step 5: Thank participants
Giving feels great on its own, but it’s always extra-special to be recognized for your charitable efforts. Be sure to thank participants for donating to your technology drive, either through individual thank-you notes that are mailed or emailed to each donor or collectively through a social media post thanking all donors for their participation. If possible, and if all participants are willing to share their stories, it can also be meaningful to follow up in a month or two with a social media post featuring recipients of various devices so donors can see how happy their contribution made someone, making them more likely to donate again in the future.
Wrapping it up
Hosting a technology drive is a wonderful way to bring a community together for a good cause. Those in need of tech devices for school, work, or leisure can get the tools they need to help them achieve their goals, and those who donate can use this as an opportunity to talk to their children about the importance of giving back. For everyone involved, it’s a win-win!
If you’re interested in hosting a technology drive, these tips will help you create a plan for a successful event. Don’t forget to reach out to local charities and nonprofit organizations with a focus on providing technology for those in need so you can establish a partnership and get more information. With careful planning and organization, you can help make a big difference in people’s lives this holiday season and beyond!