Shoe drive fundraisers are a lot of fun for the thousands of partners who work with us throughout the year. All of them understand that by collecting gently worn, used and new shoes, they can raise money for their nonprofit, church, school or civic group. Shoe quality, however, is essential.

But, we get a question that is asked by our partners, and we want to explain why we strive to make sure that all of the shoes we receive are gently worn, used or new.

Life in a developing nation.

If you’ve partnered with us in the past or have looked at our website, then you understand that we work with micro-entrepreneurs in developing nations who sell the shoes. We’ve partnered with approximately 4,000 small business owners in countries around the world, including Haiti and Pakistan. Unfortunately, in many of these nations people live in poverty, or even extreme poverty, which means that families earn as little as $2 a day or even less to survive, which is not a sustainable income.

Because of systemic poverty, low-quality education and work opportunities that can be scarce, many people have to create their own paths in the hopes of having any chance of providing for themselves and their families. One of the principal ways that people develop an opportunity for themselves is by selling merchandise, including shoes, which are necessary. Children who attend school, need shoes as part of their uniform. Parents need shoes to go to work, and everyone needs footwear to prevent diseases from the parasites that can enter the bloodstream from the ground.

Why does the quality of the shoe matter?

The quality of the shoes collected in shoe drive fundraisers is critical. When our partners collect shoes, the footwear is processed, and it’s vital that all pairs are gently worn, used and new shoes. After processing and the issuance of a check to our shoe drive fundraising partners, the shoes are consolidated with hundreds of others from other shoe drive fundraisers across North America.

The shoes are shipped to countries all around the world. Micro-entrepreneurs purchase the footwear for a small fraction of the original cost of the shoes. It’s vital to have a commerce-driven approach to helping people in developing nations create and sustain economic opportunities for themselves because if we were to simply give away shoes, we would be doing more harm than good. In other words, we would destroy economic markets and jobs because people wouldn’t be able to sell shoes if other people were giving them away in the communities.

The quality of the shoes matters. Micro-entrepreneurs who purchase the shoes for inventory, clean and then prepare them for sales in their communities. The reality is that if you wouldn’t buy a pair of frayed and torn-up shoes, people in developing countries wouldn’t want to buy them either. There’s another reason why the quality of the shoes is essential, and that’s that in developing countries the vast majority of people walk from place to place because they can’t afford cars. They need good walking shoes and sneakers to get around and for walking long distances.

Join the shoe drive fundraising movement

We hope that our post has provided you with more clarity around the reasons why we must have gently worn, used and new shoes collected. If you’ve never done a shoe drive fundraiser, or would like to learn more about it as a stand-alone fundraiser or in addition to another fundraising campaign, we invite you to do what thousands of others like you have done. Join the shoe drive fundraising movement!


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