The Virtual Food Drive: Turning a Website Visitor Into a Donor

The news is filled with stories about the unemployment rate and the nonprofit organizations working hard to support their communities. Perhaps you try to help by donating online or purchasing a few extra things at the grocery store to donate for the local food drive. But times have changed when it comes to collecting donations for those who are food insecure. An excellent example of that is the virtual food drive held by the Food Bank Council of Michigan. Now, many of you might have been just like me and had never heard about a virtual food drive before. Out of curiosity, I decided to visit the Food Bank Council of Michigan’s virtual food drive to learn more. The idea and the website really impressed me, and instead of just looking to learn more about what a virtual food drive was, I decided to donate. Here’s a closer look at what impressed me.

When visiting the website, you’ll see the homepage’s virtual food drive advertisement. The number of donations shopped for, and a checkout option is in the upper right. Scrolling down the page, you will see an area labeled “Explore Today’s Menu.” Besides raising funds and educating the visitor on food banks’ purchasing power, you can choose to donate from a list of items. These include protein and carb options like peanut butter, pancake mix, rice, beans, and macaroni and cheese. For each of the items, the retail price is listed alongside the cost to food banks. For example, pancake mix is listed as costing $2.19 in retail but only 67 cents for food banks. You can donate one or a few of each item and add them to your online cart.  By using this site, potential donors learn that their financial donation can go much farther if food banks purchase these items themselves. And for those who would prefer to donate online without experiencing an online shopping experience, that option is still available.

The site provides helpful context on how donations have expanded food distribution in Michigan. Additional facts help visitors learn about growing food needs among the senior population and children.

What makes this site different? The organization not only allows site visitors to donate online, which most nonprofits do, but they also educate about the economic value that food banks bring. Those who are used to purchasing items online get the same type of experience. At the same time, the organization raises money from people like me who were curious about virtual food drives. After donating, you’ll receive a receipt for the donation, which will also include links to the organization’s Facebook and Instagram sites.

If you’re a nonprofit looking for innovative ideas to raise funds to help the many people in our country looking for assistance, this example might be the right one to learn from.

Sophia Guevara

Sophia Guevara, MLIS, MPA, is employed as a mixed-mode worker and is also a columnist for Information Today. In addition, she is a member of the Special Libraries Association and NTEN.