Philanthropic efforts are often guided by our zeal to help. But as we have seen so many times in reports on natural disasters, the most altruistic intentions may be misguided – or at least not optimal.
When it comes to fighting hunger in Central Indiana and around the country, food isn’t always the best weapon. That sounds ridiculous, so I’ll explain what I mean.
I had occasion to speak to a manager at a Feeding America network food bank in New Orleans about the Move for Hunger program, founded in 2009 by a Neptune-New Jersey agent for Wheaton World Wide Moving. As part of the program, Wheaton agents pick up unwanted non-perishable food items from their moving customers and bring it to the local food bank, free of charge. By all accounts, it’s turned into a fantastic program responsible for thousands of pounds of nutritious food getting to people who need it most.
The food bank manager was grateful for our efforts and praised us for being innovative. But he asked me to consider what happened to the food once it was delivered to the food bank. It had to be sorted. Stored. Often re-packaged for specific purposes and, ultimately, transported to its final destination – a local food bank, soup kitchen, church or synagogue.
Sometimes, he said, dollars are more important than doughnuts. With financial donations, the food banks can purchase specific foods based on nutrition or, purchase it in a specific neighborhood cutting down on logistics and transportation costs. What about storage? Warehousing isn’t free and it means keeping track of disparate inventory as it comes in.
Don’t get me wrong, he said, keep the food coming. It’s a fundamental part of the food banks’ ability to serve hungry people around the country – but think about building a financial component into your efforts to make them more targeted and more valuable.
As the Move for Hunger program has evolved, Wheaton personnel have begun collecting and matching financial donations at the tradeshows we attend in lieu of silly giveaways or other swag. A simple donation card acknowledges the donor’s generosity. It’s worked wonders and the local food banks to which we donate are thrilled with the effort – they can put the check into their food budget as opposed to storing hundreds of cans.
This post was written by A.J. Schneider, vice president of sales and marketing for Wheaton World Wide Moving.
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