Working with Volunteers at the Green Urban Lunch Box
Working with Volunteers
Volunteer relations for 2020 looked very different for the Green Urban Lunch Box’s FruitShare program. FruitShare is a unique program that partners with fruit tree homeowners and community volunteers to harvest fruit that would otherwise be going to waste. Usually FruitShare staff lead small groups of volunteers to harvest trees in homeowners yard, but due to COVID-19 the old volunteer relations needed to be altered.
Prospective volunteers sign up for a volunteer newsletter using the online form that is found on the Green Urban Lunch Box’s (GULB) website. Once signed up, they receive an automated welcoming email and subsequently receive another newsletter each week. The newsletter lists the upcoming harvest events and other volunteer opportunities as well as a link to SignUpGenius where they must register to attend the event.
The information gathered from the sign up sheet, such as contact information, what program they volunteered with, and how many hours of service they have amassed, is then logged in Salesforce. SalesForce is GULB’s preferred customer relationship management software.
The FruitShare program relies heavily on volunteers, so a way to safely incorporate them back into the program needed to be created. GULB did not want to introduce staff and volunteers to new groups of people at every harvest, so it was decided to create a recurring volunteer position. Recurring volunteers harvest at the same time and day every week, and harvests are no longer open to the public. This way each staff is harvesting with the same group of people at every harvest.
To recruit volunteers, GULB reached out to previous volunteers first to see if they would be interested in volunteering weekly. GULB created lots of marketing content to post on social media (instagram, Facebook) as well as their weekly volunteer newsletter.
After volunteers were recruited, SignUpGenius was used to coordinate and manage volunteers and their respective harvests. Volunteers picked the time and day that worked best for them every week, and signed up for that slot. Each harvest was limited to 3 volunteers, as to maintain the appropriate amount of social distance during a harvest. The sign up sheet was edited at the start of every week to reflect the harvest information for that week.
Volunteer engagement and appreciation was much easier and enjoyable with the recurring volunteers, due to increased Facetime. Volunteers and staff got to know each other much more since they harvested together every week. Volunteers were able to take home free fresh fruit every week, and participate in any online event GULB put on such as the Community Huddle program. The purpose of The Community Huddle Program is to cultivate community engagement and foster relationships with volunteers and staff. The ultimate goal is to facilitate a community pulse through gatherings that educate people on why and how they can cultivate a positive food culture and the importance of food justice in our community. These Community Huddles are hosted virtually every month and are open to the public, but are specifically targeted towards volunteers. Finally, volunteers who completed the two month session received a thank you card containing a handwritten note as well as a GULB logo iron on patch.