Regina Food Bank – Fighting hunger year round through a multi-channel communications approach

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Regina Food Bank – Fighting hunger year round through a multi-channel communications approach

11-Mar-2015

The holidays are a time of giving, particularly by the thousands of people who support the Regina Food Bank. Every year donations of food items, money and volunteer time peak as partners come together to ensure that no family goes hungry over the holidays.

But the challenge does not end once the tinsel has been taken down and a new year rung in. For the Food Bank, proactive and engaging communication is key to keeping the support going year-round.

“Hunger, food insecurity and those less fortunate are certainly more top-of-mind during the holidays. Many charitable agencies and non-profit organizations, like the Food Bank, push to raise public awareness of those in need during the holidays when the need and help is crucial. However, what the Food Bank tries to do is balance that awareness over the rest of the year with fundraising and partnerships. The fight against hunger never takes a holiday or a break,” says Steve Compton, CEO of the Regina Food Bank.

The Regina Food Bank distributes nutritious food to thousands of residents in need all year long. On top of that, it provides services and supports that address the complex long-term issues that create hunger and food insecurity in the community. In 2013 alone, the Food Bank provided assistance to 113,990 people and distributed 2,926,393 pound of food.

One tool the Food Bank uses extensively to reach people is social media. They have had success cultivating an online community of supporters – at the time of this writing, they have over 1,400 likes on Facebook and approximately 670 followers on Twitter.

“Social media has become very important for raising and maintaining social and public awareness. It can effectively advertise fundraisers and special events as well as create a forum for donors and volunteers to ask questions and find out how they can help. It is also a very effective way to stay top-of-mind and in the consciousness of the public when they are thinking of ways to give back those less fortunate,” says Todd McCauley, the Food Bank’s Marketing and Special Events Manager.

To McCauley, social media’s shareability – not to mention its low cost, a key consideration for an organization that works hard to ensure every dollar possible goes toward services for its clients – makes it a key ingredient in their outreach efforts. However, McCauley notes that social media is still just one tool in their toolbox.

“Because of the viral nature of social media, the format has much more potential to reach a broader audience. It is extremely cost effective for the reach it has but that does not mean we’ve abandoned traditional forms of marketing or media. We find that many events and fundraisers we organize over the course of the year can benefit from a more grassroots model, such as radio and print ads, television and signage around the city,” says McCauley.

And when it comes to bringing in and coordinating volunteers – the lifeblood of the organization, which receives over 10,000 requests for support each month and last year logged 18,091 volunteer hours by 3,316 individuals – there is still no substitute for the personal touch.

“Our volunteer coordinator, Lori Williams, does a fantastic job of keeping our past volunteers up-to-date on opportunities both in the day-to-day operations of the Food Bank and fundraisers. The Food Bank staffs 20-plus employees to cover daily administration, but much of the daily tasks and operations are completed by volunteers from all walks of life and many who are former clients of the Food Bank, giving back,” says Compton.

The Regina Food Bank accepts food donations at their facility at 445 Winnipeg Street or in the collection bins at Safeway, Superstore/Loblaw’s, Sobeys and Sherwood Co-op stores. Cash donations are also accepted online at reginafoodbank.ca/donate. If you would like to volunteer your time with the Food Bank, or are interested in hosting a food/fundraising drive in your office or neighbourhood and you're looking for ideas, please contact info@reginafoodbank.ca.