Tips for Success

Appoint a Chairman

Your food drive will need a leader who can oversee the event and motivate people to donate food and funds.  This person will also be the point of contact for the Food Bank to call upon with any questions or follow ups.

 Select a Theme

A theme can set the direction of promotional materials.  You can select a theme that is relevant to the interests of your group and their feelings on hunger issues in our area.  You may also decide to select a fun theme that will help motivate your group or make the event more exciting.

 Select Dates

There is no right answer to the length of a food drive.  You simply want to give your participants enough notice so that they can be prepared to bring in donations.  Your food drive can be a one-day-only event, a couple of weeks or longer than a month.  It’s up to you and your group.

No matter the length of your food drive, you must have a clear start and end date.  It is also good practice to set your actual deadline a few days after your publicized deadline.  You will get late donations.

With regards to the time of year, food is needed 365 days a year.  Successful food drives can be held at anytime of the year.

 Set a Goal

Setting a goal is a good way to motivate your donors and it provides a sense of accomplishment at the end of the drive.

 Choose Your Locations

If you have multiple locations, you may want to recruit someone to help you manage donations at each site.  Select high-traffic areas where the barrels will be noticeable with convenient access.  Be sure to consider safety and security issues when choosing your locations.  You will need to keep the barrels out of the rain and in a secure area on the weekends and evenings.

 How Many Barrels

Determine how many barrels to order from the Food Bank.  One barrel holds an average of 200 pounds of food.  A good way to estimate this is by dividing your goal by 200.  This will tell you how many barrels will be needed.

 Schedule Delivery & Pickup with the Food Bank

Once you have planned your drive, call Jessica Sullivan at (423) 622-1800 ext. 208 to set up delivery of barrels, food pick ups, and any desired posters or brochures you would like to have on hand.

Food Bank staff will pick up and replace barrels at any time during your food drive.  Call us at (423) 622-1800 when your barrels are starting to fill up.

 Promote Your Food Drive

Publicity is the key to a successful drive.  Spread the word to as many people as possible and don’t be shy about reminding them.  People like to be informed about ways they can participate.  You will want to begin promoting your drive at least 2 weeks before the start date.

  • Profile the food drive in your organization’s newsletter
  • Send everyone an email
  • Broadcast over your organization’s PA system or make announcements at meetings
  • Create mailbox or paycheck stuffers
  • Hang posters in high traffic areas
  • Talk to the media about doing a story or PSA
  • Be sure to let your group know that monetary donations are also welcome
  • Notify the media if your drive is open to the public
  • Print a barrel poster to share the types of food needed.

The following messages need to be communicated in order to increase collections.  Others may be needed also.

  • The real need in the community, using statistics and examples group members can relate to
  • Types of food needed
  • How easy it is to contribute
  • Ending hunger is a worthwhile activity that will require the help of every community member
  • All food donations are distributed locally

Even More Tips…

Send a notice to your regular customers about your drive and ask them to donate to the cause.

Raffle or auction off exciting prizes such as prime parking spots, vacation days or your manager’s favorite tie.  This is a great way to get monetary donations.

Make a big thermometer showing progress toward your goal.

Create special item days such as “Macaroni Monday”, “Tuna Tuesday”, or “PJ Day” and have everyone dress in pajamas and donate peanut butter and jelly.

Allow winning departments to have their own casual day or give “dress down” tickets to people making large donations.

Have management serve breakfast to the winning department – dress management up in frilly aprons.

Host a kick-off party.

Sponsor a “Thank You” party.  Give prizes to the department that raises the most food.  Add fun categories such as the most enthusiastic collectors, the most beans or rice.  Recognize participants with gift certificates, plaques or an “early out” day.

Have a building competition using only non-perishable food.

Challenge your vendors or other organizations to host a food drive.

Encourage people to donate in memory of a loved one.

Ask your organization to make a matching gift.  For example, an organization could donate $1 for every pound of food donated.

Set up competition between departments or groups.  Keep the momentum going by posting daily updates.

Make it a part of a larger event.  For example, include a food drive during a holiday party.  The CAFB can send a speaker to come out and share information about our programs and hunger issues in our community.

Ask colleagues to skip lunch and donate the money they would have spent on food.  This will also give them perspective on how hunger impacts daily activities.

Feel free to pass along any good practice tips you have: zcollins@chattfoodbank.org