Thank you for deciding to run a food collection for Luton Foodbank. The food you collect will provide more than a meal. It will alleviate worry and give breathing room, so that people can start to get back on track. Co-ordinating a food drive takes effort, but remember the positive impact it will have on the lives of your neighbours.
7. After the event .
When to hold your food drive
What time of year?
Our stock levels vary throughout the year, so if you are flexible about dates, please consider timing your collection to coincide with our typical low points. The worst of these is during the summer holidays.
If you aim to benefit people at a particular occasion (e.g., Christmas) please bear in mind that it can take a week or two for items end up in food parcels.
What time of day?
If your food drive isn’t an all-day affair, think about what time of day will see the most potential donors passing by. For example, a collection stall on a trading estate may get better results at lunch times. The availability of your volunteer helpers will also be a factor in deciding a time, but try to get the balance right: A fully staffed stall at an unsuitable time will not do as well as a poorly staffed one at an ideal time.
Where to hold your food drive
If you think you’ve hit upon a great location idea, stop and ask yourself whether it has any disadvantages. Will it be passed or visited by enough people? Could your collection paraphernalia cause an obstruction or hazard? If you expect to collect a large amount of food, will you be able to get a vehicle close enough to take the donations away? If you’re planning to recruit helpers (and we recommend you do) is the location convenient for them?
To hold a food drive at your school or office, you’ll need permission from the relevant person. Food drives using public spaces (e.g., parks) should be cleared with the local authority. Be aware that some seemingly public places are in fact private (e.g., shopping centres) so, unless you know for certain that it’s okay to use your intended venue, it’s best to assume you need permission. And don’t proceed until you have it—in writing!
It’s probably not a good idea to start pushing a collection trolley around your office building. Aside from safety considerations, it could be considered disruptive, which will not endear you (or us) to management. A collection point in the canteen or reception area would probably be more convenient. This principle can be extended to street collections, etc. Better to adequately publicise your food drive and wait at your strategically positioned collection point than invite the problem of moving a growing mound of items around a busy public location.
What to collect
An up-to-date list of needed food items is always available here. However, please be discerning when using the list. If your collection event is staffed at all times, then you or your helpers will be able to receive items directly, and store them with care; otherwise, you may wish to discourage the donation of breakable jars, etc.
It is important to get items to us well before their use-by dates. Please encourage your supporters to give items with plenty of remaining shelf life, and ensure you pass the donations to Luton Foodbank in a timely manner.
Items to avoid
If you plan to leave collection bins unattended, please exclude from your list breakable and potentially messy items. If a jar of pasta sauce were to crack when dropped onto a pile of tins, it would create a safety problem, and could render other items in the bin unusable.
We do accept some non-food items, such as sanitary products, as well as baby milk. However, we are unable to store or distribute most other things (e.g., clothes). If you get donations of non-food items, we recommend contacting charities such as NOAH or Luton All Women’s Centre, or taking them to one of the charity shops in town.
Promoting your food drive
“If you build it, they will come” may be true of baseball fields, but unless you’re very lucky it won’t apply to your event. To get the best possible response, make sure people know—in advance—what you’re doing, where you’re doing it, what you want them to do, and WHY! Don’t assume everyone knows what the foodbank does.
When to promote
There is an art to timing the announcement of your event. Whilst you should endeavour to fix a date as early as possible, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you should announce it immediately. A mid-January food drive announced during Advent may well be forgotten by Boxing Day. Posters may still be up, but these have a curious way of becoming invisible to people who walk past them every day. And continual reminders on social media will irritate people. On the other hand, be careful not to announce your food drive so late that people don’t have time to react.
How to promote
Make a short checklist, and make sure every item is included in all your promotional work. Include things like DATE, TIME, LINKS, CONTACT INFO, and PURPOSE of event. Finally, add the list of food items you’re collecting. When you’re caught up in organising things, forgetting to include these “obvious” things is astonishingly easy!
Social media: This is straightforward and free. Facebook even lets you create an event page. Whichever platforms you use, remember that images get more attention than plain text, and videos get more attention than images. But please also remember that the food drive so dear to your heart will become mere spam to other people if you overdo things. If you’re a user, it can seem that anything or anyone not on social media almost ceases to exist. The opposite is also true: Those who don’t use social media are unlikely to see your posts, so to reach everyone you’ll need to run a broader promotion.
Email: Nobody likes spam emails, but using an email signature to promote your food drive is a good way to spread the word. Setting your email to automatically append your little advert means you don’t even have to remember to do it every time. But check company policy before doing this with your work email.
Newsletters: If your company, school, or place of worship distributes its own newsletter, it’s worth asking the editor to give your food drive a mention. If space is very limited, consider asking them to publish a link to your main web page or social media feed, where you can present as much detail as you like.
Posters and flyers: If you have the resources to create and print your own, you can use these specially designed supporter graphics.
It’s wise to make a plan for food storage if you think your food drive will draw a large number of donors. It’s very helpful if you can bring the food items to our warehouse, but we may be able to collect if your haul is particularly large.
It’s very important that your activities don’t put anyone at risk. Ensure that your food collection point is free from obstructions, and that procedures for receiving and moving items are not likely to cause injury or danger. Ask your organisation’s Health and Safety officer about risk-assessment policies, etc.
People passing a staffed food-collection point will sometimes offer money if they aren’t carrying any food items. Decide in advance what you will do if this happens. It would be a shame to refuse cash gifts, but you should politely do so if you’re not geared up to handle money. If you do accept the occasional cash donation, you can either pass it to us with your food items, send it online, or use it to buy extra food items for your collection – provided the donor is aware of your plans.
We ask that you register your event by email as soon as you have the basics sorted out. You’re not obliged to register, but it’s helpful if we’re kept abreast of things for the following reasons:
- We may be able to make suggestions, or warn you of previously planned events that clash with your chosen date.
- We can help raise awareness of your event by adding it to our online calendar.
- Registering could also prove helpful if the legitimacy of your event is questioned. Although rare, fraudulent fundraising events are not unheard of. You may be glad to be able to refer people to us so that we can confirm our awareness of your activities.
- If you register early enough, we may be able to send a representative along to speak at the opening of your event, or at a school assembly beforehand.
Storage and transport
If you’re running your food drive in a school or office, you may have access to a cupboard or even a whole room for storage. If this is the case, you can remove the items at your leisure, provided they don’t outstay their welcome. It’s a different story at a fête or shopping centre, so be prepared to move some donations to a storage location during your event if you don’t have secure storage facilities on site.
After the event
Announce your result
As soon as you know how much food you collected, please let us know. Send us photos of your event so we can share them. Also, announce your results using all the promotional channels you used before your event. Make sure you tell (and thank) anyone who helped with your initial publicity campaign: Co-workers, employer, local news outlets, etc. Don’t be coy about this: It serves a real purpose, letting people know their donations amounted to something. Besides, you deserve credit for your hard work.
Handing over collected items
As soon as is practical, you’ll want to arrange for collected food to make its way to Luton Foodbank. If you have collected a very large amount of food, we’re happy to collect it—but please allow for the fact that we have only one van, and our volunteer driver will have to fit the collection around frontline work at distribution centres. If you are able to drop the items at our warehouse, please call 01582 725838 or email firstname.lastname@example.org ahead of time to make sure someone is there to receive them.
Review how things went
Fundraising isn’t an exact science. Along the way you’ll have learnt lots about what worked for you and what didn’t. Make a note of these things, for next time. And please let us know too. This page is updated periodically, and your insights can help make it better.
You have made a real difference to people in need. It’s not a difference measured in “first-world” terms like broadband speed or the length of the queue in Starbucks. The difference you have made is putting food in front of someone who had none. You have allowed children to arrive in school happier and better nourished, which drastically improves their chances of leading a happier and successful life. You, with your helpers and donors, have changed the course of entire lives for the better. In the shorter term, it’s even possible you made the difference between life and death for someone; statistics show a startling increase in death by malnutrition in 21st Century Britain. We hope you understand just how important your efforts have been, and we hope it gives you a good feeling. And we’d love it if you told your friends about how great if feels. Who knows? Maybe they’ll pick up the baton.