Fighting Senior Hunger In Delaware: An Interview With Meals On Wheels DE

Our Fight Hunger Photo Contest asked nonprofits to submit a photo that visually narrated how they contribute to hunger relief in their community, accompanied by a short description. We’d like to thank every nonprofit that took the time to share their story with us. Every single entry was inspiring, touching and most importantly, a call to action for people everywhere to make a difference.

We are excited to announce that Meals On Wheels DE is the lucky winner of our contest! Meals on Wheels DE is specifically focused on fighting senior hunger in Delaware. Senior hunger is a growing problem in America. In fact, according a study conducted by Oregon State University, seniors with limited physical mobility were five times more likely to suffer from food insufficiency than their abled peers.

Cassandra Boyce, Marketing and PR Director at Meals On Wheels DE, spoke with us about recruiting volunteers, fighting hunger and recognizing outstanding volunteers.

Q: What does hunger look in Delaware?

A: Hunger has many faces in a small state like Delaware and financial restrictions aren’t the only limitations to receiving nutrients. Many of the seniors we serve have physical or age-related conditions that restrict their ability to shop or cook for themselves—Meals On Wheels is their only option.

Meals On Wheels Delaware (MOWD) is a nonprofit organization working with five meal-providing agencies and thousands of volunteers to feed hungry, homebound seniors throughout the State of Delaware. Through various fundraising events and direct mail campaigns during the year, MOWD is able to raise private funds to disperse to the participating agencies. Our organization is truly volunteer drive—without the help of hundreds of volunteers we would not be able to reach the thousands of seniors we deliver to on a daily basis.

Q: How does Meals On Wheels DE fight hunger?

A: MOWD ensures no senior is placed on a waiting list to receive a hot, nutritious meal daily—this is something few states can say they’ve accomplished. As federal funding often runs out half way through the year and organizations are often unable to meet the need, MOWD steps in to provide hot meals to the elderly community. MOWD serves nearly 4,000 homebound seniors throughout the State of Delaware. In fact, last year our dedicated volunteers delivered over 600,000 meals.

Q: What makes Meals on Wheels different from other hunger relief organizations? A: Alternatives for our seniors are few; due to ill health, lack of resources, or age-related conditions they are unable to shop or prepare food for themselves. Consistent meal deliveries provide more than basic comfort – nutritious meals sustain their physical strength, while our dedicated volunteers bring hope for their hearts. More often than not MOWD volunteers are the only interaction our seniors have all day; these small interactions at times can mean more than the nutritional sustenance the volunteer delivers.

Q:What would you say is the key to recruiting and maintaining dedicated volunteers?

A: Finding the right fit for each volunteer is important. Giving them an opportunity to enjoy using their talents and skills to make a difference in our community is the best way to keep people coming back. Some of our most dedicated volunteers are those who have a personal connection with the cause. Perhaps a friend or family member received services from Meals On Wheels in the past and were inspired to do the same for others in their community. We also have wonderful volunteers from Delaware’s strong community of businesses and organizations that support our fundraising events as well as volunteers to deliver meals each week. And many of our volunteers see the importance and value in the way we treat seniors in their most sincere time of need.

Q: How are volunteers recognized for their work?

A: We make sure all our event volunteers receive a personal thank you for the time and effort they put into making our fundraising events such a success. In addition, each year around the holidays we send a small token of our appreciation to the volunteer drivers throughout the state a gas card, as most volunteers pay for their own gas throughout the year. We also keep key volunteers up to date with news from Meals On Wheels and involve them in the planning early on—keeping their involvement high allows volunteers to be the driving force behind our mission.

Learn more about Meals on Wheels DE here.

Check out our Fight Hunger Photo Contest album on Facebook.

How is your nonprofit fighting hunger?

4 Webinar Titles in January You Don’t Want to Miss!

Learn something new. Attend a free webinar!

In December we announced our new webinar training schedule for 2013. This month we’re kicking things off by getting back to the basics! Our webinars in January will cover everything from introductory tools trainings to professional development in the realm of volunteer management.

VolunteerMatch: Getting Started

If you’re new to VolunteerMatch, or you’re looking for a refresher be sure and register for our Getting Started webinar. We’ll introduce the basics of accessing and maintaining your account. We also walk you through the opportunity posting process step by step.

Best Practices for Recruiting Online

The follow up to Getting Started, Best Practices for Recruiting Online teaches you how to make the most of your VolunteerMatch account by creating volunteer opportunities using our best practices. This webinar covers the eight simple steps to making your opportunities stand out on our website giving you all the tools you’ll need to be a VolunteerMatch expert.

The New Volunteer Manager’s Toolkit

If you’re also new to volunteer management be sure and register for The New Volunteer Manager’s Toolkit. Designed for new practitioners this webinar introduces the key components of volunteer engagement. It also covers other useful topics like risk management and volunteer retention and recognition.

The CVA Credential: A Mark of Excellence

Only hosted once a year, this popular webinar introduces the CCVA and the process for applying for and receiving your CVA. Learn about this unique performance-based credentialing program, the process for becoming Certified in Volunteer Administration and how it can benefit you and your organization. I received mine in 2009, and it was one of the most rewarding experiences in my career. I’ve also just joined the Board of the CCVA.

For more information, please visit our Learning Center.

Be sure and join us for a webinar this month. Register today!

4 Fun ‘Outside the Box’ Ways to Fight Hunger

A submission for the Canstruction San Francisco gala

This month VolunteerMatch is all about fighting hunger. We’re sharing our favorite tools, tips, blogs and best practices to help hunger organizations recruit the volunteers they need. But enough about us: what about other the other guys?

The organizations below are using fun and innovative tactics to fight hunger. Pursuing a think-outside-the-box strategy has allowed them to engage volunteers in new ways. They’ve been able to connect with new individuals and ultimately diversify their networks of supporters.

Keep reading to find out how they do it!

Canstruction

This organization claims to be the most unique food charity in the world—and they live up to their promise. Canstruction holds annual design and build competitions in which competitors construct huge, elaborate structures using only canned food. The winners, along with all other submissions are displayed in a public gala. Afterwards the structures are broken down and everything is donated to local food banks.  Using traditional tactics, Canstruction brings media attention to an important issue: proof that making a spectacle of your organization isn’t always a bad thing.

Empty Bowls

Empty Bowls is an international grass roots organization that also uses art to spread hunger awareness. They bring educators, artists and craftspeople together in order to create handcrafted bowls. Next, supporters are invited to share a simple meal of soup and bread. In exchange for a cash donation the handcrafted bowls are taken home. In this way, Empty Bowls provides a tangible, ongoing reminder of the issue, a tip that any nonprofit can apply to the cause it supports.

Teens Fighting Hunger

Within this organization teenagers raise money to fight hunger by selling goods they’ve created—or provided to the public. Teens Fighting Hunger works closely with schools, coordinating class projects that are equal parts education and philanthropy. While students work to create products and raise funds they are also educated about hunger related issues. This approach creates a winning combination of building awareness, engaging teens in service and fundraising for an important cause.

Project 50/50 & #AfricaNeedsYou

Project 50/50’s goals are impressive: 50 states, 50 weeks, 100,000 donations. This organization has devised numerous projects to combat hunger around the world. One such project can be found on Twitter—search for ‘#AfricaNeedsYou’. Targeting influential celebrities, users cans send tweets asking for donations and support of hunger. This is a creative example of how to combine the powers of celebrity and social media for social good. Check out their twitter feed here.

These are just a few examples. Do you know of other organizations fighting hunger in innovative ways? Tell us about them in the comment section below.

Interested in joining the fight against hunger? Click here to register your organization on VolunteerMatch!

Share Your Story By Entering The Fight Hunger Photo Contest

Nonprofits know that visual storytelling has the power to prompt social change on a level that no other medium can. Photography can instantly provoke an emotional response which can lead to a call to action.

To share the story of the inspiring work that hunger related organizations are doing, and all the individual volunteers fighting hunger this season, we’re launching a Fight Hunger Photo Contest.

Here’s your chance to be recognized for the amazing work you’re doing in your community. Today VolunteerMatch is launching the Fight Hunger Photo Contest. The goal is simple: to raise awareness of the work being done by nonprofits and their volunteers. We want to encourage as many nonprofits as possible to tell their story, so this contest is meant to be easy, fun and simple.

Here’s How to Enter:

1) Simply upload a picture of you, your organization and/or your volunteers doing hunger related volunteer work to the VolunteerMatch Facebook Page with a caption about fighting hunger.

2) Be sure to also share your photo on Twitter with the hashtag #FightHunger.

3) That’s it. The photo with the most likes, comments and shares wins. Contest ends 12/28/2012. Update: Contest extended until 01/04/2013.

Prize: The winning photo will be featured on the Engaging Volunteers blog along with an interview. We encourage you to take this opportunity to show off the incredible work that you’re doing in your community.

Most importantly, we’d like to encourage you to reach out to your volunteers and ask them submit their photos to the Fight Hunger Photo Contest. We’ll be sharing the visual stories we receive throughout the contest as they come in so be sure to send your entry as soon as possible.

Good luck!

(Photo Credit to FoodBankCENC.org via Flickr)

 

 

 

Pinterest For Nonprofits: Four Tips For Effective Pinning

VolunteerMatch has found a home over at Pinterest — and we want you to join us!

With well over 100 million users, Pinterest is now the third largest social media site, after Facebook and Twitter. It’s a site where users share images by “pinning” photos and videos to their boards to share with other users. And we think nonprofits can use it to engage volunteers.

Personal, aspirational and optimistic, Pinterest can offer potential volunteers a look behind the scenes, inspiration and tangible evidence of your impact. As a platform for visual storytelling, Pinterest can help you connect with potential and current volunteers. It can also direct a ton of traffic to your website, as pins link back to their original source.

Check out these tips for nonprofits on Pinterest:

Focus on your impact.
More and more, nonprofit volunteers, donors and supporters want to know exactly how your organization makes a difference. They’re more likely to volunteer, donate and fundraise if your nonprofit clearly displays its impact.

Pinterest can be an effective way to get your message across. Images and videos of your work will fit right into the positive mood of the website and inspire followers to join your cause.

It’s not all about you.
Social media is often pegged as a product of a narcissistic era. While a lot of social sites center on a “look at me” attitude, Pinterest is based more on a “look at this” philosophy.

Make sure you follow other nonprofits, individuals and volunteers within your organization’s space. By highlighting their work in addition to your own, you’ll avoid over-promotion and retain the sense of optimistic camaraderie that characterizes Pinterest. It’s also a great way to thank those that support you — whether that’s through volunteering, donating or simply repinning your posts.

Pull back the curtain.
Pinterest operates on individual-to-individual connections. Users value personalization over promotion, so it’s important to give your organization a human face.

Offer your followers a behind-the-scenes look at your nonprofit. By featuring your staff, volunteers and those your organization affects, you’ll give your organization a personality. Your nonprofit will be more appealing and more likely to attract new supporters and volunteers.

Start a conversation.

While images and videos are the backbone of Pinterest, you can further connect with followers by using words. Use Pinterest’s caption, tag and comment options to really start a discussion with your audience.

Explain exactly what’s happening in a photo, and use relevant tags to help people find your pins. Comment on other people and organizations’ pins, directly engaging them in conversation. These are great ways to increase your visibility, make your pins easier to find and connect with your supporters.

Find our Pinterest here!

For more tips on Pinterest for nonprofits, check out these articles by Mashable and John Haydon.