Update: Since this article's publication in May 2016, Box Tops for Education announced plans to transition to a digital-only collection program.
With the right incentives, good communication, and an element of fun, the money your group earns from Box Tops for Education and other clip-and-save programs can add up quickly. Here are some ideas to consider adding to your collection efforts.
Build a fun container to collect the labels. One that looks like a traditional mailbox, for example, will prompt kids to “deliver” their labels frequently, especially if they get to lift the flag each day.
Set up collection points around town in the style of Little Free Library (free book exchange sites). Bonus if they are next to existing Little Free Library boxes that are already in use by the community!
Make sign boards that take advantage of popular song lyrics. “Hey, I just met you/ And this is crazy/ But we need milk caps/ So drink milk, maybe!” will stick in kids’ minds and help them remember to bring in the items you're collecting.
Print greeting cards or business cards with seasonal messages, such as “Happy Spring!” or “Give the gift of box tops.” Hand them out attached to a reclosable plastic bag, of course.
Send home a gallon-size reclosable bag with each child at the beginning of the year; place a label with instructions on the front. Have a second complete “class set” so that when students bring in a full bag on collection days, they immediately get an empty one to take back home.
Canvass families with preschool-age children in your school district to start clipping and saving. Or coordinate with private preschool programs that are located within the school district to ask their families to collect for your group. Look at other ways to expand your audience, as well, such as partnering with Kiwanis, Rotary, and Lions clubs.
Collect labels as the cost of admission to an event. This works especially well for large communitywide events or school events with good turnout, such as carnivals or dances.
Tie in to an existing school celebration. Challenge classrooms to collect 100 product labels each for the 100th day of school, for example. Make it exciting for students by offering a prize of 100 items to the class. Stickers, pencils, erasers, and wrist bands are inexpensive options.
Set up a collection box in the kitchen or cafeteria at your place of work. Make sure your colleagues know what it’s for and who benefits, and send out reminders a few days before collection dates. And if your office buys supplies in bulk, make sure to check whether any of the brands qualify for your program.
Create new contests and incentives for students. For example, who has gotten labels mailed from the farthest away? From the most states? Track the locations on a map for a geography curriculum tie-in. Or use UPC codes as a way to tally votes for a favorite teacher or favorite sports team competition. Check out “Low-Cost Incentives for Your Next Fundraiser” for some incentive ideas for top-collecting students and classrooms.
Ask local business owners to put a collection box in their shops. They’ll get a boost when you post collection reminders on your group’s Facebook page. They might even reciprocate and use their own social media to encourage their broader customer base to participate.
Advertise, communicate, and share. Remember that anytime you add a collection site, the biggest challenge is letting people know about it. Use your regular communication channels widely and frequently—monthly newsletters, Twitter and Facebook posts, flyers at events, etc.—to remind families about all the ways they can participate in your collection program.
Originally posted in 2016 and updated regularly