1 Like = 5 Meals for the Food Bank For New York City

Editor’s note:  Daniel Buckley is Sr. Online Communications Manager at the Food Bank For New York City.  As an early adopter of social media tools for the food bank, Daniel has always been glad to utilize their communications resources to help out others in the online hunger community.  So we’re more than happy to help spread the word of their good work here.

By Daniel Buckley

Some of you likely remember the days when nonprofit organizations realized that if they did not yet have a website they would not look serious or professional. I think that we’ve gotten to the point now where organizations need a Facebook page to project a fully formed professional image.

According to Social Media Today, 41.6% of Americans had a Facebook account as of August 2010. You may have thousands or tens of thousands of email subscribers and website visitors, but even though these are active supporters of your organization, getting all those supporters with Facebook accounts to become your fan can be a challenge. And getting those supporters to suggest you to their friends is a huge ask for many.

But as our recent experience at the Food Bank For New York City shows, it can also be easy. The answer is simple, and not surprising. For us, the difference was FedEx. This February, for each new fan the Food Bank receives, FedEx is donating 5 meals – and will keep on donating until we have made 5,000 new fans. The enthusiasm we have seen so far from our supporters is simply incredible – in just the first 24 hours of the campaign, we made 3,500 new fans! And judging by the enthusiastic responses we see on our wall and on Twitter, our new supporters feel great about the difference they were able to make with a couple quick clicks.

 Even with a relatively small number of fans, Facebook will likely appear as a significant source of referrals to your website and is a great way to turn individuals into ambassadors for your cause while keeping a high number of supporters informed on news and opportunities to make a difference. For us, the value of this community is clear and the investment of resources to build it is clearly worth the end.

We still need some help to reach our final goal of 5,000 new fans (we will have met our goal when we have 6,500 fans in total) – please “like” us today and pass the message on with a link on Facebook or a tweet! Do you have success stories about building online communities? Share them in the comments!

Seven Hunger Relief Organizations Doing Good Social Media Stuff

By Ed Nicholson

One of our goals with this site is to be a positive force in helping bring the discussion of hunger online, creating awareness for the issue and those instrumental in the fight against hunger.
When we came to the issue nine years ago, we found a lively discussion already occurring among a passionate community of those involved in hunger relief.  
We believe there’s still enormous upside potential to bring that discussion online via social networking tools, and to expand the community of decidated hunger fighters well beyond where it is today.
Fortunately, there are some hunger relief communicators blazing the trail. They’re using the tools, and most importantly, they’re engaging in two-way conversations, not simply broadcasting their messages.   If you’re involved in the issue, these are people and groups you’ll probably want to follow, if you aren’t already.

Share Our Strength
Billy Shore, Founder and CEO of Share Our Strength, has always been a tremendous communicator.  Share Our Strength now has Jeff Wiedner doing an exemplary job of heading up online communications, using all of the  popular social networking tools, including a Twitter account   Facebook cause pages,   LinkedIna very nicely-done YouTube channel, and a Flickr account.   In addition to Jeff, who runs the organization’s Twitter account  Billy Shore, Eric Herboso, and Suzy Twohig also have Twitter accounts.

Feeding America
Feeding America has a very well-produced YouTube channel, a quickly-growing Twitter account and active Facebook  and MySpace  pages.  Feeding America’s existing large and active community, enhanced by strong corporate support ensures that pretty much any tool the organization adopts will rapidly gain an active following.

Capital Area Food Bank of Texas (Austin)
This organization was early to the game and remains a leader in their use of social media.  In addition to authoring for their blog, CEO, David Davenport; VP of Communications Kerri Qunell; Advocacy and Online Marketing Director, Lisa Goddard, and several others from the food bank engage regularly with stakeholders through a number of different channels, including Twitter and Facebook accounts.   YouTube, Facebook page, Flickr.   Definitely some best practices here.

Food Bank for New York City
A relatively new blog shows bright promise as the centerpiece of this leading food bank’s social media efforts (they’re showing true social media savvy by asking readers to help name their blog )  Additionally the food bank has a Facebook cause page, as well as a YouTube Channel and Twitter Account  Online Communications Manager Daniel Buckley does a good job of coordinating social media efforts and using the tools to engage.

North Texas Food Bank (Dallas)
Another great example of a Feeding America food bank using a variety of social networking tools, including a blog,  a Facebook page, a  MySpace page and a YouTube channel.   Mark Armstrong manages the food bank’s Twitter account.

Texas Food Bank Network
A coalition of Feeding America food banks in Texas, this organization runs an advocacy blog , as well as  a Twitter account . 

Community Cooperative Ministeries Incorporated
This Fort Myers, Florida agency is doing a great job of creating hyperlocal awareness, focused on challenges of hunger and poverty in their area. They have a Twitter account and are using new media tools, including  Pitch Engine’s social media news release service to create awareness of  their activities, as well as using vimeo to post online video. Their CEO, Sarah Owen (who guest-posted here last week), is also a Twitterer.  Take a look at their campaign designed to raise awareness of kids at risk of hunger over the weekends.

No doubt there are many other great social media efforts occuring among hunger organizations around the country. Let me know what’s going on in your community, and we’ll feature it here.  The goal is to connect.

Childhood Hunger–Another Story from the Front

 It’s Friday, the time we devote to reminding you of childhood hunger, and the many children who depend on weekday free lunches for their nourishment.  Daniel Buckley from Feeding America member the Food Bank for New York City, sent this account of the great work their food bank is doing in addressing the challenges faced by kids who might otherwise go hungry on the weekends.

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In 2007, the Food Bank For New York City took Feeding America’s model BackPack Program and made one simple but very significant modification. They took the national program – which provides children with bags of healthy food to take home – and merged it with the concept of a choice-style food pantry, calling it the Open Market BackPack Program.

Children accessing the Food Bank’s programs are able to fill their bags themselves, picking items from a selection of fresh produce and nutritious food. This activity helps children understand what goes into a healthy meal, while nurturing feelings of competency and self-sufficiency. Here is just one touching story of a child on whom this program made a great impression.

Told by a staff member of a domestic violence shelter that is a member of the Food Bank For New York City’s food assistance program network.

"John was a domestic violence shelter guest.  John, along with his mother and younger brother, were victims of mental, emotional and physical abuse. Fortunately, they found the courage to leave and come here.

"Before they came here, John had to leave his school and his mother had to leave her job because of the abuse, and money was scarce. John’s mother has had a real hard time trying to make her money stretch so that the kids can have enough to eat. She’s told me that our Open Market BackPack Program has been a real lifesaver for her children — it feels so great that our services can make such a difference. Being able to shop for themselves makes the kids feel responsible. John’s a real sweet kid. It’s obvious he feels that he’s helping his family and feels real good about it.

"John’s mother said that he never wants to miss an opportunity to participate in the program. She always makes a point to show how thankful and appreciative she is by returning the tote bags neatly folded so they can be used again."

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Be sure to check out the brand new Food Bank for New York City Blog.  As you’ve just seen, they have some compelling stories to tell.

120 Feeding America food banks have backpack programs to help kids like John.  You can help by donating food, funds or time to your local food bank. 

 

You Filled A Truck For the Food Bank For New York City!

Thanks to all who commented on this entry about hunger in New York City and the work of the Food Bank for New York City . We now have more than 350 blog comments, meaning a truckload (approximately 35,000 lbs.)  of Tyson products will be delivered to the food bank sometime in the next couple of weeks. 

Meanwhile, please stay involved in the fight against hunger. New Yorkers can find out more by contacting the Food Bank for New York City.  If you’re somewhere else,  Feeding America has a handy food bank finder tool on its site that will connect you with one of its 200 member food banks across the U.S.

Thanks again.  It’s your engagement that makes this kind of effort possible.  And it will be your passion and compassion that make it possible for us to consider a day when the fight against hunger will be won.