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How to run a give and take event

Two people crossing hands to form a heart shape together

Wednesday 1 March 2017

What is a give or take event?

A Give or Take Event is an exchange event; a chance to part with things you don’t need any more and pick up something you do need. All for free!

Why hold a give or take event?

It saves you money, by bagging a bargain and avoiding collection cost for unwanted items. It also saves on landfill space, as items rot in landfill they produce greenhouse gases which contributes to climate change. Purchasing pre-loved items also reduces your carbon footprint, as the item is used for longer, uses less packaging and transportation costs. Best of all it helps people in your local community.

Planning the day:

Venue: Consider a village hall, community centre, school hall or any indoor centre which is easily accessible to the public. You could even hold a small scale event for friends and family at home. Consider toilet, storage and parking facilities. Weigh up the costs of hiring a larger venue which may offer tables, chairs, central location and other facilities vs. a free venue which may be less attractive to the public. Could you charge a small entrance fee to offset costs. Consider health and safety for the whole event. Will there be one entrance in and out or a walk-through system? Where will heavy items be placed? Will hot tea and coffee stands be supervised?

Staff and People:

Consider the size of the event, the amount of publicity and your anticipated level of attendance. How many volunteers will you need? As an incentive to volunteering you could provide free cake and coffee. Try contacting your local district or borough Council recycling department to see if they can help with resources or volunteers. You could also approach local charity shops to see if they have any volunteers who would be willing to help you out during the day, in return you could donate any leftover goods to their shop.

Promoting the day:

Plan ahead! People may need time to sort through their garage or loft to find items they wish to donate. Provide a contact number or email which you check regularly. Consider the cost of posters and leaflets, could you advertise posters in schools, community groups, church boards, rather than using leaflets.

Contact your local paper, radio and businesses who may be able to promote in newsletters or via social media. Contact your parish and local council who may also be able to help with promotion. Social media sites, online groups and local websites often have events pages, you could try contacting them and adding your event to the list. To promote your event on the Love Essex website, contact


Plan and publicise items you will and will not accept on the day. Make sure you have the space to take large items. Many charity shops accept clothes already and they may be less in demand.

Electricals should not be passed on unless they have a valid safety certificate or have been verified by a Portable Appliance Test (PAT).

Dangerous items; including certain garden items, DIY materials, knives or cooking items may be particularly dangerous. If you have any doubt then do not accept these items and be aware that is illegal to give knives to anyone under the age of 18, if anything if found to be unsafe during the day then hide and then dispose of it safely afterwards.

On the day:

Can items be donated before the start time of the event to prevent congestion. Will you allow donations throughout the day? This may be preferable as the public won’t have to do 2 trips if they also wish to view what is on offer as well as donate.

What rules or guidelines will you be practising on the day? Will there be a maximum number of items that people may take? Will there be a system where you may only take if you have donating something? Consider staff on the day, could you wear badges, stickers, similar coloured t-shirts to be easily recognisable.

Have a box of stationary or useful items on hand to include, thick pens, paper, string, scissors, cello tape and some provision for marking large items which have already been sold/ taken. Extra boxes could be useful as well as any bubble wrap and carrier bags. Remember to label any items which are NOT in the swapping event to prevent them being taken, including tables, chairs, and stationary.

After the event:

Remember to remove all rubbish and to recycle whatever you can. Donate any good items to a charity shop. Large items may be accepted by a furniture re-use scheme or if you have storage try advertising on Freegle or other reuse organisations.

The responsibility lies with the event organiser to ensure all items are correctly disposed of. Publicise your success and thank all those who made your event happen. And congratulate yourself on all the handwork done for a worthwhile cause.

Points to consider:

The nature of these events can attract dealers and professional car boot-sellers, if you are faced with this problem; emphasise the event has a charitable purpose and that people should only take what they need. If you feel people are taking advantage of the good nature of the day then explain your concerns and ask them to come back at the end of the day to take items which have not been claimed. One-off events are less likely to attract re-sellers, but the more events you hold the more likely you are to remember these people and politely decline entry to those not obeying the rules.