Donor Relation with Food for Others
Like any other in-kind or monetary donors, the farmers giving the food bank fresh produce need to feel that the (literal) fruits of their labor are appreciated. Just because a farmer donates once to a food pantry does not necessarily mean they will donate again. The following effective and inexpensive tokens of appreciation make donors feel valued and keep them coming back year after year.
The most basic way Food for Others thanks their farmers is by sending handwritten thank-you letters to the farmer that details the amount of produce they have donated. If the farmer has opted into receiving the Virginia Food Crop Donation Tax Credit, the AmeriCorps member also includes the total amount of credits they will receive when they file their paperwork with the Virginia Department of Taxation in January. Another option is creating materials that help farmers market their products.
Whenever the AmeriCorps member communicates with the farmer they make a point to invite them to visit Food for Others and receive a personal tour of the facilities. It’s important to offer this so that the farmer feels more connected to the organization. Extending this invitation also builds trust and creates a stronger relationship between the farm and the food bank. Since so many farmers are located 45 minutes or more from Food for Others, a large portion of them have never seen or heard of the food pantry. A tour gives the farmer a better understanding of the needs of the organization, as well as how their produce is processed and distributed.
For the farmer that is more social media-savvy, the AmeriCorps member worked with the social media manager of Food for Others to periodically thank donors via Facebook posts. The posts will tag the farm in question, provide details about their business, and include a link to their website. This is a way to publically thank and honor the farmer while providing free publicity for their business.
Farmers who donated regularly to the food bank were provided with magnets that read, “We proudly donate excess produce to Food for Others. We support their mission to end hunger and reduce food waste.” These magnets served dual purposes: first, they served as a thank-you note for donors. Secondly, they were designed to potentially bring in more customers; farmer’s market vendors stuck the magnets onto their trucks and/or cash registers and market attendees could choose to shop at the stands that had magnets on them.