Ways to End Hunger
Reduce the Cost of Ending Hunger Up to 25%
Nothing is more traditional, wholesome or all-American than gathering up and giving food to the needy. It's an almost universally accepted practice for people to help the less fortunate by buying actual cans, jars, boxes or bags of food for that noble purpose.
This is a good thing. There is no such thing as a bad container of food given in love and charity to feed the needy.
However, when as many as one in ten people in your community are hungry and the total need for food aid is many thousands of pounds, we cannot possibly meet that need unless we optimally utilize the community’s anti-hunger resources.
Food drives are not optimal because the food purchased for food drives is way too expensive.
Giving food is expensive
In a food drive, where does the food come from? Someone buys it at the store. How much does food cost at stores? Full retail prices. So, for example, $10 brings into the charity food system $10 worth of food.
That inefficiency is compounded when the gift enters the charity system by being dropped into a food collection barrel or leaving it in a bag on your front porch for someone to pick up. Giving in this way is virtually impossible to document for tax deduction purposes.
Giving money costs donors less
If someone writes a check to your agency so that you can buy food, it costs the donor 25 percent less than if they give you the same dollar value’s worth of food. Spread across an entire community or region, that difference is huge.
Assume that the average pound of food costs a dollar. For every million poundsor every $1 million worth of food it takes to end hunger in your communitythis change is worth $250,000. In my 40-county service area, moving from food drives to fund drives dropped the cost of ending hunger by $12.5 million per year.
It is by taking advantage of these sorts of cost-saving opportunities that we can draw the cost of ending hunger down to levels our communities can afford, thereby making ending hunger more achievable, and thus more likely to occur.
But people like to give cans
If you ask someone to write a check instead of giving cans, many of them will simply not give at all. However, you can afford to lose a great deal of your traditional support and come out significantly ahead.
No one is suggesting that all canned good drives are bad, or that any community should immediately end or even try to end all canned good drives. Many canned good drives are an opportunity for Boy Scouts to do a community-wide good deed or give people an opportunity to clean out their cupboards. But, if charity food programs across America begin to gently coax food-drive promoters to transition to fund drives, we can reduce the cost of ending hunger in America by nearly $2 billion per year.
The key to moving successfully from food drives to fund drives is communicating to your supporters that if they will give money instead of cans, it will cost them about 25 cents on the dollar less. If they rise to that bait, fine. And if they don’t, fine also. Take all the food drive food they are willing to give or collect for you! But let’s do that based on full disclosure of their options and not as a result of their remaining oblivious to the benefits of this other option.
Experience has shown that as we gently make donors aware of their options, more and more donors will switch to giving cash, saving them a lot of money and moving our communities measurably closer to ending hunger.