Successful Outreach Methods
• Setting up a booth with sign-up sheet at the farmers market
• Passing out brochures (WWCH brochure) and fliers
• Speaking at service clubs, companies, schools, fraternities and sororities
• Tabling at fairs, community events and festivals with a sign-up sheet
• Networking with other non-profits, organizations
• Media attention through newspaper and magazine articles
• Word of mouth
When volunteers sign-up, they are put on an email listserv (e.g. MailChimp). When a gleaning event is scheduled, an email is sent out to volunteers. If email is not an option for some, take the time to call them; it is worth it! When sending out a notification, request that volunteers RSVP to help the planning process for the day of the event. If a group wants to volunteer on a specific day, try to find a farmer that has excess produce and can accommodate the group.
WWCH has a volunteer application on the website with some helpful information, but it is rarely used. Most volunteers communicate with the VISTA directly through email or through phone calls rather than by submitting the volunteer application.
It is important to engage your volunteers in the off season as well. Plan a seed sorting party, a movie night about hunger, a fresh food drive at a local grocery store or a winter potluck to get everyone together.
Volunteer training occurs on site. If the grower is available, WWCH asks that they give a quick demonstration on how to harvest the produce and go over any special instructions. The gleaning coordinator makes sure to remind volunteers to be respectful of the farm, produce and tools. WWCH has found that gleans lasting 2-3 hours, scheduled in the evening or on weekends, work best for volunteers.
Always thank your volunteers for taking the time to help. If you know exactly where the produce is going or how it will be used, be sure to tell them. It puts volunteers’ efforts into context within the community. If you have one or two all-star volunteers, find a way to honor them with a gift or more responsibility in the program. Host an end of the season volunteer potluck or party to celebrate all the hard work and produce you brought in this season!