Buy Nothing Project
Gift Pick-Up Communication
Buy Nothing gifts have immense power to build community and amplify joy...but only if they're picked up! Here are some posts and photos that you're welcome to use to help improve gift pick-ups in your Buy Nothing community. 
General Gift Pick-Up Tips
It feels great to Give a Buy Nothing gift, and it feels great to receive one. It feels less than great when a gift sits out, waiting and waiting to be picked up. 

Clear and honest communication will set gift pick-up expectations that work for the Giver and the Asker/Recipient. 

When you’re the Giver: 
  • Set clear expectations in your post, such as “This needs to be picked up no later than this Wednesday by 6 pm” or “I’ll select a recipient tomorrow, and if it’s not picked up within a week, I’ll offer it to someone new.” 
  • If a gift hasn’t been picked up as agreed upon, you can offer the gift to someone else. It’s perfectly fine to add a comment to your post such as, “Since this gift hasn’t been picked up, I’m going to offer it to someone else now” then change its status from “Gift - Pending Pickup” to “Gift” and your post will show up in the Active feed again. 
  • If you realize part way through your day that you forgot to set out a gift for pick-up, send the Asker/Recipient a message to let them know and to reschedule. 

When you’re the Asker/Recipient: 
  • If you’ve committed to picking up a gift, please follow through. 
  • Be realistic about your ability to pick up a gift. If it’s going to take you a while to get a gift home, share that with the Giver. Don’t promise to pick something up right away unless that’s really going to be possible. For instance, if you’re interested in a gift that’s been offered but you know you won’t be able to pick it up until the following week, you can say something like, “I’d love to be considered for this! I could pick it up next Tuesday after work if you’re able to hold it for me until then.” 
  • If something comes up to disrupt your pick-up plan, let the Giver know as soon as possible. A quick private message such as “I’m so sorry! Today hasn’t gone as planned and I’m not going to be able to pick up the gift today after all. Would you be willing to hold onto it for me to come by tomorrow?” 

Tips for Everyone: 
  • Be as understanding and as flexible as possible. We all forget things at times, we all have hard days that don’t go as expected. If you can allow more time for someone to pick up a gift, that’s a great kindness. If you've reached your limits for waiting, that's fine too. This is supposed to bring all of us joy, so take the actions that build the connections and community that work for you. 

Image description: an hourglass sits in the sunshine, its turquoise sand falling from the top into the bottom.
Image credit – © Liesl Clark
Still waiting...
Let's talk about tardy pick-ups:

It is the Asker/recipient’s responsibility to pick up their item in a timely fashion.

If you’re the Giver, state your preference for pick-up timing.

If you’re the Receiver, please follow through with your pickup arrangements.

If your day goes pear-shaped and you can not come until another day, make arrangements. Ask a friend to pick up or post a note asking if someone is in that area and can pick it up for you. This is a gift, to you, for free. The best respect two parties to a sharing transaction can show is to communicate clearly, early, and often.

That said, we all have those days where everything goes wrong, but there’s a simple solution: communicate! Sometimes that will be impossible to do right away, but as soon as it is: communicate!

If you just can’t get there that day to pick up, It’s OK! Just communicate that. And if you decide you don’t want or need that item after all, it’s OK, The giver didn’t want it either! Just communicate that. So go forth and give! And, pick up your stuff. Ask and you shall receive, and you shall also pick it up. And always: communicate.

Image description – Girl looking wistfully out the window while lying down on her stomach, looking out toward the ocean.
Image credit – © Liesl Clark

Change in plans? Communicate!
Are you deeply involved in a project at the moment and you can't get away to pick up a gift given to you? Or have you had a change of plans?

We all understand that unexpected things happen. If you're running late for a pick-up or drop off, or you've changed your mind about gifting an item, please take a moment to let the recipient know. A quick note letting them know what's happening will go a long way toward avoiding confusion and hard feelings!

Image description: An artist holds a brush, painting scrolled pale blue and white clouds onto the blue sky on his canvas. In the background are Tibetan Buddhist thangkas in many colors. 
Image credit:© Liesl Clark

Ask for the Gift of Transportation
No wheels? No problem!

If you don’t have the means to pick up a gift you’d like to be considered for, please say so upfront. People giving gifts generally assume that the recipients will be able to pick those gifts up. If you can't do that, make that clear from the start. 

Many people are willing to help others by delivering gifts, but to get this additional Gift of Transportation, you need to ask for it at the start. 

Will this affect your chance of being selected as a recipient? It might. It might not. But we know your chances are always improved when you communicate clearly from the beginning. If you need help picking up a gift, share that information right up front. 

Image description: a rusty bicycle leans on a tree in the woods, well into the process of becoming one with the earth

No-Contact Gift Pick-Ups
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, there were many good reasons for no-contact gift pick-ups. Here are a few tips to make these work: 

  • Use the BuyNothing private messaging system to set up a time and date for gift pick-up.
  • Use the BuyNothing address share system that will open up in Google Maps, making it easy for the gift recipient to find the gift pick-up location. 

  • Set your gift pick-up location in BuyNothing and save it for future use. This makes it very easy to share your location and any special directions each time you give a gift away. 
  • Include details about stairs, gates, parking, etc that will help people pick up their gifts easily and safely.
  • If you can, set up a Buy Nothing bin by your front door. This can be a simple box or something more fancy, but it makes it even easier for people to locate their gifts quickly and it helps keeps gifts safe from the weather and other hazards. 
  • Avoid heartache and misunderstanding by adding a name tag to each gift you set out, and keep valuables or other items that might be mistaken as gifts inside. 
  • Leave an outside light on if you think your recipient will be coming after dark.
  • If you have a neighbor who watches your home, let them know that someone will be stopping by.
  • If you live in an apartment building with a door-person, be sure to make all arrangements ahead of time so the gift pick-up is expected. 

  • Remember you are likely visiting someone's home to pick up your item. Be aware of gates, lawns, flowerbeds, etc.
  • Arrive as scheduled, or reschedule if needed. Communicate!
  • Take only what is labeled with your name, or is clearly the item intended for you. If you have any questions, contact the Giver to get clear directions.
  • Once you have picked up the item, share a Gratitude post. Everyone loves to see gifts being enjoyed and gratitude inspires more Giving, Asking, and Buy Nothing sharing. 

Image description: a pair of ornate blue metal doors, one of them is open to reveal a courtyard inside.
Image copyright Rebecca Rockefeller
Sharing Personal Information 
When it comes to sharing personal information and photos of yourself or your family members, each Buy Nothing participant decides what works for them and their family.

Please share only the Give, Ask, and Gratitude images and information that you're comfortable sharing with the Buy Nothing community. If there are particular people you're uncomfortable with, you can block them from seeing your posts. We recommend using private messaging to share details such as gift pick-up locations, outside contact info, and other personal details.

We trust our adult participants to know what they're comfortable with, and how to keep themselves safe. Remember our "You Participate At Your Own Risk" rule and act accordingly to prioritize your own safety. 

Image description: sprays of a plant with delicate green leaves and blue flowers spill over a stone wall, photo copyright Rebecca Rockefeller