Shalom Farms has the advantage of being so close to VCU. With this, they can work hand in hand with students to encourage their assistance with the organization. We often see canned food drives around campus, such as boxes academic buildings that say “please donate” on them. With some of the research we have done, and having communicated amongst ourselves as college students, it may not get the entire message and goal of food pantries across. In order to receive donations that will actually be useful to food pantry users, it is recommended that Shalom Farms spreads its message and goal to the students of a college campus so that people are aware of what they are contributing to.
A good way to do this is by reaching out to on-campus organizations. For example, the Greek community at VCU is always looking for ways to get involved with the community and help those in need. Shalom Farms could connect with leaders or representatives of the VCU greek community and introduce some ideas, one of which could be a competition among Greek organizations. The competition would require each organization to collect food and cooking utensils that must all match to a specific list, with an incentive at the end. Shalom Farms will have the opportunity to handcraft a list of food and supplies that they know their clients would enjoy. By doing this Shalom Farms will be receiving donations from multiple organizations, all based off of their own list. This will prevent them from receiving an abundance of overstocked items such as canned tuna or corn, and allow for a planned, and much more balanced supply of items.
Another way to ensure useful donations would be by educating the public on why the old canned goods in the back of their pantry aren’t useful to even those in need of food. Shalom Farms could create a promotional and educational video that explains all of the needs of the community. If they create a video that includes real-life footage of low-income people receiving bags of old canned goods and how that food doesn’t enhance their livelihood in any way, people will be more inclined to think twice before they donate items that the food pantry might not necessarily need at the time or are of less demand. A lot of the time, people just need to be properly informed of the actual needs of the community they are willing to serve. If a video is made to teach people about what they should be donating opposed to what they are donating, it could benefit a lot of food pantries around the state, and greatly improve the effectiveness of Shalom Farms.
In order for food pantries like Shalom Farms to gain more volunteers and donations, they need to appeal more to the public. A perfect target audience for Shalom Farms would be millennials. Millennials, as defined by the United States Census, is the age group of America’s youth born between 1982 and 2000. Shalom Farms has access to VCU students, and they have a great cause to advocate.
The first step in becoming and staying relevant to millennials is by improving their social media presence. For example, the last time Shalom Farms posted a picture to their instagram account was 6 days ago. In order for more people to gain interest, posts should become more frequently and have a way of informing the public of current events and the progress of the day-to-day operation.
Studies indicate that Facebook is the most used social media platform among millennials. Shalom Farms does a good job at keeping up with new content on this outlet, but they could add even more to further engage their current audience and potential new audiences. A great way to spark interest on someone’s timeline is by uploading a brief, fun, and informative video. If Shalom Farms were to make a promotional video discussing the issue of food deserts in our area and the need for volunteers, people would quickly become more aware and more willing to help.
Another way to engage millennial volunteers is by conducting a fast and easy survey and distributing it to the target audience. The survey should include a few short questions about what individuals would like to get out of their volunteering experience. This way, Shalom Farms will become aware of the wants and needs out of prospective volunteers. This will give them an edge on how to better appeal to this demographic.
The bottom line is, with more volunteers, comes a larger outreach. In order for Shalom Farms to enhance their organization, they need to reach out and recruit more individuals who may not be aware of who they are or what they do. Once the interest is gained, it will become much easier for people to become passionate about the organization and make more of a difference.