Rounding up the bra donation drive – A post-event analysis

Hello! How is your weekend coming along?

So happy to share that our donations reached Mindanao Poverty Relief Action! (You can check out Facebook Her Clean Slate and Instagram if you had missed the action during the drive)  Excess donations were sent to a few other places in and out of Singapore. With this, we wrap up the bra donation drive and here is a post-event analysis.

As you may already know, we exceeded our donation targets. What was supposed to be a drive for friends of friends and family exploded and we amassed MORE THAN ONE TON of donations.

That was why I decided to share updates with everyone via Instagram and Facebook instead of blog posts during the collection drive (much faster that way.)

Pricilla and Vanessa sorting bra donations

I’m grateful to everyone who volunteered or kindly agreed to help me, and some of them acted as collection points too.
– Green Prints Pte Ltd
– Christ the King church at Pasir Panjang
– Strike Combat
– Singapore Pain Solutions
– Pricilla Seah
– Elaine Toh and Jing Huey.

Elaine and Jing Huey had reached out to me as they wanted to collect bras from their friends on top of their own donations. I asked if they were willing to collect from other donors and they very gamely said yes! YAY Elaine and Jing Huey!

So what did I do to get it running and how should I have done it better?

The process

1. Work on ‘publicity’ and set up collection points, after reaching out to Uplift about my intention to run the drive.

2. Answer queries/ arrange meets.

I did not expect to spend so much time responding to messages, but it makes sense considering the volume of enquiries.
It was my bad to allow donors to reach me on multiple platforms – email, Facebook, Instagram. Some donors also commented on Her Clean Slate’s blog and facebook – all in all, making it harder to track. If I had to choose just one medium, I’d go with Facebook.

3. Ad hoc meet ups at MRT stations

I had envisioned just meeting a few people due to the short timeline of the drive.
Even though the meets that I did at MRT stations were ad hoc, I still needed help with carrying the donations home.
On hindsight, I should have directed all bra donations to collection points and not do meets. Or if I must, do it at the one closest to home.

4. Collections from collection point

As one drop off point was particularly popular, I had to empty out the store regularly.
I still remember the time I returned to find the store overflowing, though it was emptied the day before.
Dad came to the store too as I told him I needed help. He shook his head and his expression mirrored what I thought : these arent gona fit the car. He kept quiet but gave his standard “hurhur”.
“We’d be fine.” I said as I skipped over the snaking row of donations stripping out smaller bags paper bags, collating/ squashing them into bigger bags.

Truth was..

Donations overflowing beyond the allocated space brings inconvenience to the business, so have ready the resources to empty out the store every day if necessary.

overflowing donations

Bring along cartons for collections. Easy to carry away and stack in the car

Shutting down the collection points before the deadline didn’t help that much as some donors got aggressive or they simply dumped them outside.

Conclusion: Because it was such a prime location with a small space. I should have readied more resources to empty out the store more regularly.

5. Social media- Updates, make videos and call for volunteers/ help
Instagram and Facebook were my friends as I could post quick updates on collection/ packing details or changes.

6. Sorting and packing; collecting carton boxes
An ideal situation would be to have a space large enough to hold the bra donations before they are ready to be sorted and packed. Otherwise, sorting the bras and packing them into boxes as the drive is underway is one way to squeeze as much donations into as little space.
You’ll need carton boxes to facilitate this. You can ask provision shops or NTUC for them.

7. Sourcing holding locations/ movers and shipping options.
Thanks to Zen for helping me to store excess bras in his family’s business warehouse – they sell bras too you see.

8. Coordinate sorting/ packing sessions

Packing bras

Packing to maximise space

9. Raising funds
I wrote to shipping and logistics companies – to get a waiver / subsidy on costs- to no avail. So I’m really thankful for my friends and donors for chipping in!

10. Look for other places to send out the donations after our Philippines target was reached. Sorting and packing according to their needs then sending out.

Start Shelter thank you letter for bra donation

Love and thanks from Star Shelter

Within Singapore, here are the organisations that we’d reached out to (as well as their needs):

Babes – Disposable maternity pads
Pertapis Children’s Home – Children training bras and panties
Pertapis Women’s Home – Women bras and panties
Gracehaven- Bras/ sports bras
Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations/ Star Shelter – Bras

I’d suggest first dropping them an email to understand their needs before dropping off your donations.

What other factors to consider?

All about timing
I thought that pre-Chinese New Year (CNY) would be a good time for the campaign. Yes.. . it is good..kind of too good as some people treated it as a dumping ground and we received irrelevant items.
It wasn’t great seeing the piles growing in our home especially pre- CNY, so I was under pressure to get the donations out asap.

I didn’t expect to need volunteers, nor did I guess it be so hard to get them. Largely due to the short timeline and people had better things to do pre-CNY. I had also hoped to only rope in women volunteers so this reduced my volunteer pool by half.

Last but not least, have you missed a deadline and then try your luck to get it extended? Yes. Expect the same to happen, except this time you are on the receiving end.

Lesson: Do it at a less ‘hot’ time of the year, and when you have no time pressure. As with project planning, if you expect something to take one month, double the time.

Keeping bra donations at home

Growing donations piles in living room in a few days

Space.. is key..

If you have one large space that is big enough for all donations to be kept and packed, half the battle is won.

I had expected to work out of my home in a HDB flat. But because it ended up being much more, the challenge was finding places to store these before Chinese New Year came around.

So in my opinion, time and space are the two main factors. Had I one factor in my favour, I most probably would not have had to scramble for alternatives and it would have been an easier ride.

Get help (all the help you can get)

My inboxes exploded and responding to messages took alot of time.  Sorting was also a slow process.

Before

After two hours with 6 people just sorting and sorting

So where did the bras go?

Ladies in TiangWangKang and Gundap village receiving their bras.

Ladies in the Tiang Wang Kang and Gundap villages in Batam received our bras.

Philippines, Batam, Baliwithin Singapore.

I’m very grateful to Liz from the Uplift Project for linking me up so I could send out the bras to various recipients.
One donor also helped carry these donated bras in her luggage to Bali. You can too! Check out http://www.upliftbras.org/drop_off_bras.html.

We did not send over donations that are in poor condition or were simply not suitable for our donors. (I remember trying to remove a brownish bra pad from a bra and as I pulled it out, the pad disintegrated into fine brown dust on my lap!.)

The discard piles include clothes and lingerie, undies that have been used and a lot a lot of shapewear.

No point spending money sending bras over that may not be used and contributing to a disposal problem in the recipient countries.

How do the costs add up?

595kg of bras headed to Mindanao, Phillipines

595kg of bras headed to Mindanao, Phillipines

Shipping to Mindanao $1365
Postage to Pakistan $155
Transport to Batam orphanage $51
Movers $788
Publicity materials $84.60
Cab fare to move empty carton boxes to use for packing $22 (I didnt verify my Gojek account then!:(
Total $2465.6

I had not planned for moving costs as I had expected to take the MRT and dad’s car. These were no longer feasible when the donation volume rose so much so quickly.

Moreover, as planned holding area was not big enough, donations had to be split up and moved to other locations. And then as planned packing area was also not big enough, donations from previous packing area had to be moved to a new packing location.

Once again, I’m so grateful to my friends and members of the public stepping in and also offering to help! For the sake of transparency, I’ve posted the amounts donated.

Amounts donated:

Mobile no      /Amount donated

No number $1400
Xxxx9212 $360
xxxx8730 $200
xxxx4560 $190
xxxx8911 $100
xxxx8059 $50
xxxx5523 $20
xxxx9813 $20
xxxx8404 $5
Total        $2345

Roundin’ it up!

Bless making sure as many items made it into the boxes.

I never expected to collect more than a ton of bras in two weeks. So for anyone who plans to hold a donation drive, do expect it to go big very quickly.

Friends – who were unaware of this initiative – would show me FB posts shared by their friends by Her Clean Slate. It’s weird but interesting. I also had a TV producer and competition organiser contact me about the drive.

I couldn’t help feeling touched as I packed the bras. Many were thoughtfully packed and labelled. I’m very certain some donors had also gone into a shop and bought bags of news bras and panties to give away.

Actually, besides wanting to help women in need, another reason for this drive was to reduce textile waste. Nonetheless, I appreciate the kind gesture 🙂

I’m so grateful to family and friends and members of the public who made this possible and helped me through this period- with their help and time, donations, advice, support, dropping me a tinker to offer help when I was drowning.

Lest you are thinking ‘how can I help?’ Sure you can!

Funds and (wo)manpower and funds are the lifeblood of such operations.

You know, even though I was under pressure to get the bras packed away as soon as possible, I only put in a booking for ten shipping boxes after funds came in.

This means that without funds, bra donations aren’t able to reach their recipients.

You can make a donation here: https://give.asia/campaign/uplift_project_-_providing_bras_to_women_in_need

I was barely sleeping throughout the drive. Even then, I would not have managed without a lot of help – collecting and ferrying donations,  packing and sorting.

You can follow the Uplift Singapore page so you be updated when they need help! https://www.facebook.com/UpliftProjectSingapore/

Another option,  say you want to run your project? Can also, say you work in a big company, or you are within a large community of women. You can reach out to organisations to understand what their needs are and start collecting!

Do sort through the donations before sending lest some donations do not meet requirements.

Though it was a crazy few weeks, I’m glad to have the opportunity and just, did it.

Love,
Eden

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *