“We use basic letters about neighbors helping neighbors,” she adds, “and it resonates in New York, where almost everyone is from somewhere else. New York City can be overwhelming, so people are seeking a sense of community. We need to talk about how the dollars we raise are supporting our own community and helping people right in our own backyard who are struggling.”
Diversifying funding sources
Five years ago, Wallace says, direct mail accounted for a quarter of City Harvest’s donated income. Today, it’s at about 20 percent. That’s because another large part of Barrick’s plan was diversification of funding sources to avoid the “putting all your eggs into one basket” syndrome.
City Harvest focuses more heavily now on major donors, as well as institution giving, corporate partnerships and special events, among other channels. What it’s learned about corporate partnerships is that companies are less interested in just writing checks than they are in partnering with an organization to make a difference. Tapping in to those corporate dollars depends heavily on the types of opportunities an organization can offer.
Wallace says City Harvest has found great success in providing volunteer opportunities for groups of employees, which in turn leads to greater overall involvement by the company and, ultimately, corporate partnerships and donations.
Part of City Harvest’s 30/30/30 campaign involves funding a new, 45,000-square-foot facility in Long Island City to accommodate the greater amounts of rescued food that need to be repackaged before being sent out to other facilities for distribution. The space allows City Harvest to bring in volunteer teams to do the packaging.
“We can get 100 people in there packing 20,000 pounds of food over a few hours,” Wallace says. “We have seen an increase in corporate dollars because we focus on creating group volunteer activities, engaging 25- to 100-person groups from a corporation. It really unlocked those dollars. Organizations need to be thinking about engagement activities, as well.”
Leap of faith
Perhaps the biggest change that has happened within City Harvest is its decision to expand the scope of its mission, or rather the way it accomplishes it. Quite simply, City Harvest’s mission is to end hunger in New York City. The bulk of its efforts — 70 percent — involve rescuing food from restaurants and grocery stores, etc., and bringing it to local food organizations for distribution to needy New Yorkers.