Volunteering with Feeding America. Volunteer Engagement Guidelines for Corporate Partners

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1 Volunteer Engagement Guidelines for Partners

2 Feeding America s mission is to feed America s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger. l 2 l

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5 Volunteering with Feeding America

6 Volunteering with Feeding America Last year hundreds of thousands of individuals volunteered at Feeding America food banks, giving millions of hours of their time to assist with food bank operations. This support allowed our network to more efficiently and effectively provide food for over 37 million Americans. partners play a key role in supporting Feeding America food banks through volunteerism. Volunteering Made Easy With over 200 food banks across the United States and Puerto Rico, we can match your offices with a local Feeding America food bank. By sharing communication resources, we ll help you promote participation and educate your employees about Feeding America and their local volunteer experience. Special Note A timely connection between the Volunteer Lead and the Food Bank Volunteer Coordinator is the key to a successful volunteer event. Coordinating event details such as event date(s), number of reservations, shift times, event location etc., requires communication between both parties. To that end, the Feeding America national office does not reserve spots at food banks on behalf of the partner but instead supplies corporate partners with food bank contact information and conversation starters to facilitate your local connection. l 6 l

7 Feeding America Food bank Locations Feeding America provides lowincome individuals and families with the fuel to survive and even thrive. As the nation s leading domestic hunger-relief charity, our network members supply food to more than 37 million Americans each year, including 14 million children and 3 million seniors. Serving the entire United States, more than 200 member food banks support 61,000 agencies that address hunger in all of its forms. Dots indicate the primary locations for Feeding America food banks. Many food banks have multiple locations throughout their service area that are not reflected here which could potentially host a volunteer event. l 7 l

8 FEEDING AMERICA FOOD BANK CONVERSATION STARTERS Many food banks post their own volunteer guidelines on their website. Find your local food bank by visiting the Feeding America website and typing in your zip code in the Food Bank Locator. Find your local food bank s volunteer information by clicking the Volunteer button above your food bank s name. Hosting volunteers is a daily activity for the majority of Feeding America food banks. Contact your food bank as soon as possible. Even if your volunteer count is not finalized, touching base with the food bank allows you to ask questions, get your event on their calendar and exchange contact information. Who will be the food bank s contact for my event? What is the best way to reach that individual with questions, details or concerns? Although the number of volunteers our food banks can host in a single day varies between 5 and 500, most food banks can host up to 50 volunteers on a given day. How many volunteers can the food bank accommodate? Feeding America recommends reserving spots at food banks for a group of 25 at least three months prior to the event. Add lead time if your group is larger than 25 or if the event will occur during the holiday season (October December). Is [DATE] available for my group size? Can I reserve X# of spots for my event? Many food banks offer morning, afternoon and evening shifts. What shift times are offered? Volunteer activities are typically hands-on and include sorting donated food and grocery items or repacking these products into individual sized bags or boxes. As a reminder, food banks are warehouse facilities. For the safety of volunteers, closed toe shoes and long pants are required during volunteer events. What are your dress code requirements? Food banks cover large service areas and may have more than one warehouse and/or distribution site. What is the address where the volunteer event will take place? Some food banks have space to hold a kick-off meeting or serve your volunteers refreshments. Please be aware that some food banks may ask a fee for use of such space. Does the food bank offer a refreshment area or meeting space and are they available the day of the volunteer event? Is there a certain procedure we should follow if we are bringing food items for our volunteers? Some volunteers may include individuals with special needs. If able, food banks will work to accommodate volunteers with physical or other restrictions. Can the food bank accommodate individuals with special needs? Your volunteers may get thirsty during their volunteer event. Because of the cost it incurs, not all food banks are able to provide bottled water to volunteers. Does the food bank provide bottled water to volunteers? Many food banks accept volunteers under the age of 18. The minimum age to volunteer fluctuates for volunteers with or without adult supervision. What is your policy for volunteers under the age of 18? l 8 l

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11 Ways to Volunteer with Feeding America

12 Ways to Volunteer with Feeding America Rally employees and invite them to fight hunger in their communities. Connect your offices with a local Feeding America food bank to participate in a volunteer experience. They ll learn about hunger in their community and support their neighbors in need. After learning about your goals and objectives for volunteer engagement, we ll make a recommendation about the type of volunteer experience that would best fit your employees. l 12 l

13 Hands-on Volunteering The majority of volunteer events involve sorting donated food and grocery items or repacking these products into individual sized bags or boxes. These tasks are essential to the food bank s day to day operations. Special volunteer opportunities including attending a mobile pantry distribution or packing specialty items such as backpacks or emergency food boxes may be available at your local food bank. Skills-based Volunteering Leverage the specialized skills and talents of your employees to strengthen the local food bank. Typically, skills-based activities are on-going, deepen your connection to the food bank and tend to involve fewer employees. Examples of skills-based volunteering include providing direction through management skills, strategic planning, marketing/branding, communications, tax/finance assistance, HR processes, and helping clients with job skills and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly Food Stamps) enrollment. l 13 l

14 National Week/Month of Service Think big and help fight hunger from coast to coast. Feeding America food banks service every state and many have multiple locations that can provide volunteer opportunities close to where your employees live and work. Organize a corporate-wide effort with national impact. Designate a week or month of service. Tally your results to promote your collective impact. Ongoing Volunteering Extend your fight to end hunger by offering ongoing volunteer opportunities to your employees throughout the year. Repeated volunteer experiences provide occasions for team building and foster relationships with local food banks. Many ongoing events involve skills based volunteering, providing food banks with specialized support. l 14 l

15 Planning a Successful Volunteer Event

16 PLANNING A SUCCESSFUL VOLUNTEER EVENT Plan Early Feeding America recommends planning your overall event at least six months prior to the event date(s). Begin reaching out to food banks as soon as possible. Many food banks suggest making reservations at least three months prior to the event date. If you re event is targeted for a single day, involves groups larger than 25 or will take place during the holiday season (October December) reach out to make reservations even earlier! Assess the Situation How many locations and volunteers might participate? Did you have a previous volunteer event? If so, what were the successes and challenges? Are there any internal requirements to be aware of when planning the event? Will employees be permitted to volunteer during regular business hours? Are employees already actively engaged with their local food banks? l 16 l

17 Set Participation Goals What metrics are you hoping to gather from the event? Examples include: 1) X% of total employees participate or 2) X% of offices nationwide participate. Consider Additional Support Volunteers are critical to our network s ability to move more than 3 billion meals each year. However, when a volunteer event interrupts food bank day to day operations and/or requires extra staff supervision and service, an impacted food bank may require a minimum of $10,000. These *special circumstances would be negotiated food bank by food bank at the local level. Agreement of the incurred financial donation would be between the partner and the food bank and would be obtained prior to the event. *Examples of special circumstances could include: A food bank is asked to host larger volunteer groups than they typically accommodate in a day requiring the food bank to reallocate storage areas to provide room for increased product and volunteers. A food bank is asked to coordinate a special activity that is above and beyond what the food bank would normally do at that time. Examples include partner requests to 1) Pack senior boxes, disaster boxes or backpacks. 2) Participate in a mobile pantry distribution. 3) Host an off-site volunteer event. l 17 l

18 Recruit Local Volunteer Leads Recruit local Volunteer Leads to work directly with food banks to confirm shift details and encourage participation. Gather Metrics Tell your employees and constituents about all you ve accomplished. Gather metrics on pounds packed or sorted, hours volunteered and number of volunteers on the day of the event to ensure accurate details. And don t forget to take a photo. Sharing photos with employees and food banks encourages future participation and can be used in post-event communications. Please submit signed Feeding America Photo Releases for photos intended for Feeding America use. l 18 l

19 VOLUNTEER TIMELINE AND CHECKLIST

20 VOLUNTEER EVENT TIMELINE AND CHECKLIST Suggested Timeline Activity Point Person Next Steps Resources and Tips 6 months before event Plan Partner/Feeding America Relationship Manager Finalize dates. Determine key and secondary markets. Make an informed decision. Learn more about Feeding America and volunteer opportunities. 1. Review the Feeding America Volunteer Engagement Guidelines for Partners. 2. Create or obtain a Partner Location/Food Bank Match. 3. Visit for more information on Feeding America and local food banks. 22 weeks before event Organize and Inform Partner Assign a Volunteer Lead Project Manager. Arm your project manager with knowledge. Share the overview of Feeding America and volunteer opportunities in addition to the Partner Location/ Food Bank Match. 1. Review the Feeding America Volunteer Engagement Guidelines for Partners. 2. Visit for more information on Feeding America. 3. Become acquainted with the role of the local Volunteer Lead. 5 months before event Organize and Inform Partner Recruit and inform Volunteer Leads Regional and/or Local. These individuals are crucial to a successful event and connect directly with the food bank to make reservations, coordinate dates, times, locations, etc. Connect with the food banks as soon as possible. Communicate the event to employees. Prepare your local Volunteer Leads. Share the overview of Feeding America and encourage them to: 1. Review the Feeding America Volunteer Engagement Guidelines for Partners. 2. Visit for more information on Feeding America and links to food bank volunteer pages. 3. Visit their food bank s website to learn about hunger in their community and review their specific volunteer procedures. 4. Connect with their local food bank volunteer coordinator. 4 months before event Establish local event details Volunteer Lead Reach out to food banks confirm availability, compile event details and reserve spots. 1. Reach out to the food bank Volunteer Coordinator. Using your best estimate, reserve spots at the food bank. 2. Be aware that some food banks require individuals fill out a form prior to the event date. 3. Be aware that many food banks offer multiple volunteer shifts. Talk to your food bank contact to find out capacity and shift times. 4. Be aware that some food banks have multiple locations. Be sure to ask the exact address of the volunteer event. 14 weeks before event Establish local event details Volunteer Lead Refine estimated number of reservations. 1. Refine the estimated number of volunteers you will have at your event. Do your best to get as close as possible with this number. Please inform food banks as early as possible if you learn of a significant difference in the estimated number, whether higher or lower. Food banks want to know of increased volunteer numbers so they can adequately prepare and stage food for the volunteer event. Food banks want to know of decreased volunteer numbers so they can open those spots for other individuals to volunteer. l 20 l

21 3 months before event Establish local event details Volunteer Lead Finalize the number of reservations. 1. If you have not done so already, contact the food bank to reserve spots. The food bank will likely have their own system for following up with you closer to the event day to get the most accurate total for your event weeks prior to event Establish local event details Volunteer Lead Communicate event details to volunteers. 1. Be sure to provide accurate and detailed information to your employees such as location, shift time, apparel needed, and/or if your company will be providing snacks at the event, etc. Be sure to check with your food bank to learn their particular guidelines for volunteers. 2. Some food banks offer rooms for snacks or meals. If this is of interest to you, talk to your food bank about this opportunity. 2 weeks prior to event Establish local event details Volunteer Lead Contact food banks with final number of volunteers. If numbers fluctuate up or down from your original estimate, let the food bank know. 1. Food banks want to ensure the best experience for your employees. Final counts are important as a food bank stages product according to the expected group size. In some cases a food bank completely alters their regular schedule to accommodate large groups. 2. Be sure to release any unused spots back to the food bank at least 2 weeks prior to the event. 1 week before event Establish local event details Volunteer Lead If desired, perform a walkthrough of the event location. 1. Getting a firsthand look at the food bank is the best way to eliminate confusion on the day of the event. Learning travel and parking options, viewing the facility and meeting food bank staff will help set expectations and provide an opportunity to address challenges before the day of the event. 2. Be sure to share you share cell phone information with your employees who may have last minute questions. Get their contact information as well. Day of event Report Volunteer Lead and Employee Volunteers Enjoy the volunteer event. Be sure to take pictures, stories and metrics such as pounds moved, # of volunteers and/ or # of volunteer hours. 1. You and your company will want to share your experience. Encourage attendees to document their experience and take *photos. Include this request throughout the planning process. 1 day after event Report Volunteer Lead Contact food bank to receive event metrics. 1. Your food bank has the ability to tell you how many pounds of food were staged/packaged etc. (or whatever reporting metric is important to you) for your event. Let them know you will want metrics prior to the event and then follow up with your contact to obtain them. Within 1 month after event Report Core Planning Team and/or the Volunteer Lead Share a follow up report with your company. Spread the word of your volunteers impact. Share your report with your Feeding America relationship manager as well. 1. Documenting your accomplishment is important to the participants and those who may want to become involved in future events. 2. Your Feeding America relationship managers invites you to share your accomplishments, successes, challenges and *photos. Notes: This timeline is based on local events of 25 employees or less. The amount of recommended lead time increases with the number of volunteers. The number of point people varies according to volunteer event and company size. Some companies will have a hierarchy of individuals who manage different aspects of the volunteer event while others may have one individual coordinate the overall project and reach out to food banks to collect details for local events. The roles listed here are examples for a corporate partner assigning multiple lead roles. *Please submit signed Feeding America Photo Releases for photos intended for Feeding America use. l 21 l

22 Addendum

23 Thank You On behalf of Feeding America food banks, thank you for considering spending time with us. Your effort will result in more food to neighbors in need. For more information on how you can fight hunger in your community and across the country, visit Find us on Facebook at facebook.com/feedingamerica or follow our news on Twitter at twitter.com/feedingamerica.

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