7 Steps to Organizing a Menstrual Supplies Drive for Homeless Women

Women who are homeless suffer a lot of indignities. One of them is being without tampons and pads when their periods occur. Put yourself in their place. How would you feel?

Homeless shelters do a tremendous job of providing a safe place to sleep and a warm meal but they often have to rely on what is donated to them. Funding sources don’t generally include a tampon and pad line item. And frankly, it just doesn’t occur to most people to donate menstrual supplies. Who wants to drive up to a shelter with a bag full of tampons when winter coats and mittens seem so much more essential?

If you’re somebody who thinks it’s important to help homeless women keep their dignity by having access to clean, safe menstrual supplies, then you should think about doing a tampon and pad donation drive in your town. Here’s my quick guidebook:

1. Talk to your local women’s shelter first. Connect with the executive director or volunteer coordinator and tell them what you want to do. This is important because when you solicit donations, you will want to say where the donations will be going. So having a shelter on board, basically saying that you can use their name in your asks, is essential. This gave donors confidence that their contribution would end up in the right place.

2. Give your effort a name and a look. I used “Time of the Month Club” for my campaign and asked a friend who is a graphic artist to give the Club a ‘look’. You can use anything but it needs to be smart and snappy. Jan’s Tampon Drive doesn’t do it. Time of the Month Club has some personality (it’s also copyrighted so you’ll have to find another name). You want that because you will be wearing out the airwaves with your pitches. See #3.

3. Fire up the social media engine. Before you do anything, you need to have a decent number of Facebook friends or other social media followers. If you’re a little weak on that front, partner with one or two other people who have a lot of followers. Then in terms of social media strategy: first, I messaged every female Facebook friend who I thought would possibly donate or organize a donation drive at her office. Second, I posted Facebook updates about the drive, not just asking people for donations but posting pictures of anyone who donated and tagging them to make sure the photo had the widest possible circulation.

4. Encourage group giving. One inspired person can inspire others if she thinks of it, like, ‘hey, wait, instead of just buying a couple of boxes of pads, I could get everybody in the office to buy a couple and then we’d have a big bag to donate!’ Talk to your friends and colleagues about hosting a drive at their place of work, church, or club. I bring them a box and flyers to help in their outreach. Promising to come back and pick up the box is key, though, so be prepared for some heavy lifting!

5. Make it easy to donate. I offered to drive anywhere to pick up a donation. I also had a box on my front porch labeled Time of the Month Club where people could leave donations night or day. Some people wanted to take their donations directly to the shelter. That’s fine but I encouraged people to bring them to me so I could keep a count, bag up donations in consistent amounts, and drop them off gradually so as not to swamp the shelter.

6. Thank donors A LOT. I thanked donors and am still trying to come up with ways to thank them. I’m not done yet on that front. I thanked them in person, via email, and on Facebook. Facebook was huge because it had the effect of reminding people of the donation drive but with a new face. Every time someone handed me a bag or a box, I’d ask to take their picture and ask if it was okay for me to post it. Most people said yes when I told them that other people would be inspired by seeing that they had donated.

7. Keep track. Time of the Month Club collects close to 50,000 tampons and pads over the course of a year. That’s a lot of misery and embarrassment avoided. In addition to keeping count, write down who donated, especially those who organized mini drives at their offices, book clubs or among their friends. This will be useful information if you decide to do a second drive.

Time of the Month Club is really about sisterhood. Maybe we haven’t all shared the experience of homelessness, but we have shared this: We are women. We menstruate. It needs to be dealt with in a way that allows us to carry on with life. If our homeless sisters don’t have what they need, those of us who are housed can ante up. It’s that simple really.

If you decide to do a drive, let me know. If you have questions, ask me. You can reach me via email at jwilberg2000@gmail.com.

Go forth. Collect. Have fun.

44 Comments on “7 Steps to Organizing a Menstrual Supplies Drive for Homeless Women

  1. How did you come up with a name for your campaign? I want to start collecting items to take to the local homeless shelters but I’m having a hard time coming up with a name.

  2. Hi! How many drives do you have? Is it once a month or very other other? Twice a year as too not tire the same people on your feed for donating. Does that make sense? Lol

    • I’ve gone to one month-long drive (October). I tried once a month and it didn’t work. I think you have to see what will work with your target audience.

    • Hello I was also wanting to do this for the lady’s and younger ladies on top of other items just was curious about getting donations from local stores and how to go about that?

      • Hi – My donations all come from individuals – either just on their own or people who organize mini-drives at their place of work. I’ve not approached local stores but I bet it would be a good idea. Good luck!

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  4. Thank you for your helpful post! I’m in the process of organizing a pad/tampon drive and I’ll be using your tips to make my drive better.

  5. Great post and reminder. I wouldn’t have thought of this kind of need. I’m off to visit a charity I know to see if there are such provisions through them. Thanks. <3

  6. What a fantastic idea! It’s sounds silly to say but I suppose it never crossed my mind that these women go without! I’m in Ireland and will definitely look into doing this!

    • Yes – that has to be a big need with refugees. I never really thought about it but, of course, where would refugees get supplies?

    • This is a really great idea!!! I’m going to be doing something like this with the young ladies I mentor within the next two months. I’m really excited!!! Thank you so much!!!

  7. A group of friends and I are putting together some care packages along these lines. Does anyone know of a good place to buy tampons and/or pads in bulk, but in individual boxes – say one hundred 18 count boxes?

  8. Pingback: Time of the Month Club: Indignity Prevention – Red's Wrap

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  11. I want to do a DRIVE! I am a Merchandise Manager for an online Shoe Boutique and I want to start an “Shoe Snobs w/ a Conscious”
    iniative. I was thinking a local soup kitchen and or shelters in my area. I was hoping to collect enough items to fill Ziploc Gallon Bags with Female Care Products.
    This article is very helpful.

  12. This is a great idea with an amazing strategy. I facilitate a weekly writing group of folks who have personally experienced homelessness, and this topic comes up with women in the group. What a difference you are making.

  13. This is great! This idea was brought to me when I passed a homeless woman on my cycle. I’m like how she survive? The steps you have here is a great start. Thank you.

  14. Reblogged this on Red's Wrap and commented:

    We’re planning our 3rd TIME OF THE MONTH CLUB drive for September. If you’re a Milwaukee person and interested, let me know!

  15. I’m actually doing this for the organization I volunteer for! I have a question for you….how did you package them? Did you just give away the whole box? I was thinking making small grab bags of a mix of things. Good idea? Bad idea?

    • It depends on the organization we are working for. Shelters that have storage we donate entire cases. Other groups we presort in smaller bags with a combo of pads/tampons. For homeless clients, we include wipes since their access to running water may be limited. See our Facebook page (Helping Women Period) for ideas regarding bags. Sewing classes and other individuals have made tons for us and it is greatly appreciated. Order in bulk from amazon, do NOT buy individually at the grocery store. Too expensive. I can send you links to what we ordered and have been very happy with.


      We have donated almost $10,000 worth of products since starting in March. The response has been incredible. Best wishes with your efforts and email if you have any questions or reply here!

    • That’s great! Believe me, it’s a little thing that means a lot. People have been very supportive of this in my town (Milwaukee) and we’ve gathered a lot of product. Let me know how it goes and good luck!

      • It just makes sense. And it’s something that can change a woman’s life.

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  17. Based upon your suggestions and my marketing background, my friend and I have launched an event here in Lansing, Michigan for March 24th. Helping Women. Period. My friend and I are splitting the cost of breakfast for all attendees (restaurant is working with us) and asking guests to make donations. We are making the page very interactive with frequent updates. So far, 57 RSVPs and 31 maybes. I am so excited but now have a lot of details to consider. Payment is the big issue as many people have now RSVPd that I don’t know. So, not comfortable asking them to write me a check. Anyway, if you are a FB user, check out the event. Thank you for the great ideas.


    • This is great to see. I love the name and your cover art. I also really like the idea of individually wrapped. I’ve been mostly sticking with actual product donations though because I don’t want to deal with checks from strangers (although I don’t mind them handing me Tampax). It is kind of a pain, though. Right now I’ve got a ton of tampons and pads in my dining room from OB GYN docs at the local medical college. I think your event sounds grand. If I was in Lansing (which I was once going to MSU for a bit), I would love to drop by.

  18. Thank you so much for posting this how to! Very helpful! I’ve got a group of fabulous women together to organize a drive in Cleveland called “Red Pack” – making feminine hygiene “kits” including tampons, pads, and feminine wipes for cleaning up for the local women’s shelter and some transitional housing places. We’re looking into a way to also accept monetary donations (including online) to purchase in bulk – Do you have any advice on how to do that since we aren’t a formal organization? Do we need to worry about tax issues?

    • I love that name! What a great idea. Anyway, to your question: I was wary about accepting money until I realized that some people just don’t have time to go buy stuff. Still, I just take money from people I know. I think it would be easy to set up a PayPal account to take donations online but I don’t know what the tax implications would be. I’ve avoided incorporating – I just don’t want more hassle in my life. I also run a sock drive (Sox Rox) and probably could incorporate both under one umbrella. Something to think about in the future. Stay in touch – let me know how it goes.

    • Look into a crowd funding page online. Like indiegogo or pozible. They make it really easy to set up and there are great explanations. That’s what we’re doing.

  19. Hi, ladies. You should also check out Days for Girls International. We provide washable feminine hygiene kits to women all over the world, including the U.S. The pads are made from beautiful fabrics and women and girls can wash them, hang them to dry and reuse them. The kits last up to 3 years, saving them $20 a month. It’s really a great option. We have over 320 Chapters and Teams that volunteer to make these and distribute. http://www.daysforgirls.org. Bless you all for trying to help the women and girls who need them so desperately!

  20. I’m having dejavu, as I think I commented on this post here before. But maybe someone else wrote it – which is odd. I’m pretty sure it was you – though. You look so familiar, as does your writing style. Anyway, it was likely just a different take on it, but either way – important information!

    But I’m randomly popping over via NaBloPoMo and wanted to see what you were writing about, which is just so weird that I’d come over for this post. I think this means I need to send some hygiene supplies to my friend with the homeless food service, stat!

    • I wrote an earlier post talking about the problem and then wanted to follow up with a post describing how to do a donation drive. So you’re not seeing things – there were two posts. 🙂

      • I went and found it! I knew I had seen it before – or something like it, I just couldn’t pinpont if it was you!

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