How to Host a Swap
How to Host a Swap for Good Event: Your Complete Guide
Hosting a clothing swap is as easy as inviting over some friends, and asking them to bring clothes and some cash to donate to your local domestic violence shelter. It’s fun and easy, and helps a good cause.
Planning Your Clothing Swap
- Pick a date and time for your swap any time this fall (our goal is to have over 100 events around the country this October, for National Domestic Violence Awareness Month – but September events help too!).
- Register your swap!
- Email your friends to invite them. You can copy and paste the sample email text.
- Pick a local shelter to donate to – you can type in your zipcode and find shelters near you.
Let people know in advance that this is a fundraising event so that they bring cash or checks to chip in for the cause. If you have set a suggested donation amount or range, let them know how much it is. Set an overall fundraising goal for the event beforehand, and invite enough people to meet the goal that you have set. Make sure to spread the word on Facebook as well!
- find one near your zipcode. Most shelters need funding much more than they need clothing donations, so your Swap will raise money for the cause in small (or big!) donations collected at the door. However, some shelters may also find clothing donations useful, so contact your shelter in advance to see if they also accept clothing donations. If not, you can line up a local thrift shop where you can donate the leftover clothes (some thrift shops and shelters will pick up donations. Others may need you to drop them off). Pick the local domestic violence shelter that you’ll be raising money for. You can
- Send out reminders to your guests 3 days before your event. You can copy and paste the reminder email text.
- Day of the event: Buy some drinks and snacks to serve at the event, and wait for your guests to arrive!
- Download our Swap for Good flyer to print and hand out at the event
- Pass the hat for donations before the swap begins, and remind people how much local domestic violence shelters need critical funds during the recession. For info about the cause, and a sample fundraising pitch, check out our 1 minute video.
- Swap, swap, swap! See below for more details about how to organize the swapping.
- THE PITCH: At the end of the night, after everyone has piles of great new stuff, announce the total of how much money was raised at the door. Then ask people to take a look at what they are going home with. Give an extra pitch, asking your friends to look at their pile and if they are leaving with hundreds of dollars worth of free clothes, ask them to consider giving an extra generous donation to the cause to help reach your fundraising goal, since they have saved so much money on shopping. If you prefer not to do the pitch yourself, you can show this short 1-minute video with Swap for Good’s founders explaining why each gift makes a big difference.
- Next day: mail your check to the shelter, and visit the Swap for Good website to upload photos of your event and let us know how much you’ve raised!
How to Run the Swap Event
There are two great methods for running a clothing swap, depending on the number of people and the amount of time you have.
The first method is called the “bazaar swap.” Everyone spreads out their goods on the living room floor or tables and you have a fun free-for-all session. You can either do this as a trading event where people actually swap goods with each other, or you can have everyone donate their stuff to the piles and people just take whatever they want, first-come, first-serve, like a store where everything is free. Some hosts like to ask people to separate clothes into small, medium, and large sizes so that people can find things that fit more easily.
The second method is called the “auction swap,” and is a lot of fun if you have fewer than 20 people. Everyone seats themselves in the room and then each guest takes a turn getting up in front of the crowd and holding up their items one by one, like an auction, while giving a description of the item (“I have here a beautiful black cashmere sweater, size small…come on, I know one of you wants this!”).
If someone in the audience wants the item, they shout for it. If two or more people in the audience want the same item, and can’t work out who should have it, it goes into a special pile on the floor called “The pile of contention.” Later in the evening, after all the guests have auctioned off their clothes and everyone has some great new stuff, it’s time to revisit the “pile of contention.” At that point, if two people still both want the same thing, it is usually obvious which person has already snagged more great finds, and the item may no longer be contentious. If, however, both people still want it, you can have a “walk off” where each person tries on the item and makes a plea for why they need that article of clothing, and then the group votes on who should get it.
A few other tips
Regardless of which type of swap you host, one way to make sure the event is positive for everyone is to let people know before you start that the ground rule is that no one is allowed to say anything negative about their own body or anyone else’s body during the course of the swap. If anyone starts complaining about something not fitting, people can shout “Ground rule!”
It’s also helpful to encourage people to bring accessories like scarves, shoes, jewelry, and purses in addition to clothes, so that your participants can all find something great that they love, regardless of the differences in size. Many hosts also invite their guests to bring books or household gadgets as well.
Sign up to host your swap so the world can see how many people are taking action to stop domestic violence!