“You can’t go to work hungry .You can’t go to school hungry. You cannot focus on getting something done hungry.” – City Harvest Participant.

City Harvest has not only recognized the above quote as a truism, but has harnessed the power of data-driven marketing to rescue more food and feed more hungry people than ever before.  This is why DMA Nonprofit Foundation honors City Harvest as their 2013 Nonprofit Organization of the Year.

City Harvest is the world’s first food rescue organization. It is a local organization feeding New York’s five boroughs and rescuing food from manufacturers, restaurants, grocers and farms in the area. They move more than 150,000 pounds of food a day and are on the front line of fighting the city’s hunger issues.

The award- winning organization told its story today as part of the DMA Nonprofit Federation conference.  Three years ago, City Harvest set out on an aggressive strategic plan to double their reach in terms of both doubling their food rescue efforts and community outreach. Thanks to generous donors combined with data-driven marketing, City Harvest will deliver 46 million pounds of food in 2013 (up from 25 million pounds in 2010). They will also use donor dollars to support programmatic investments such as the Healthy Neighborhoods program. City Harvest is working to meet immediate demand for food as well as promoting long-term food security by increasing access and demand for affordable, healthy food in the communities they serve.

By listening to donors, understanding their brand, testing direct response and tweaking their approach, City Harvest found:

  • The brand is the foundation for their fundraising success.
  • A local focus and ensuring that the support has an impact in their donors’ backyard has been crucial.
  • Highly visible (i.e. branded trucks) equal. an example of donor’s support in action.
  • Metrics matter – and make an impact on fundraising:
    • $.25 rescues a pound of food
    • $.93 of every dollar goes to the program,
    • 46 million pounds of food will be rescued in 2013.
    • Be inclusive of all donors. This video is how they let folks know that all levels of support make a difference.
    • Direct Mail is a powerful vehicle for telling the City Harvest story.
    • Standalone appeals do not work as well for them as does an ongoing conversation.
    • Highlighting what makes them unique helps donors choose to give.
    • It is important to challenge donors to stand with them as they challenge their team to make a bigger impact – “we need you to do more, so we can do more”.
    •  Accountability is king — report back  and tell people where their money is going, bring testimonials back to donors  to share what the impact is.

The result of their learnings:

  • Average gift has increased by 32% over 4 years
  • 5.5 million in income .5 more than budgeted because of an integrated direct response results
  • Ah Ha moment that — 60% of online income is coming from direct mail  (Data , a matchback, revealed this).
  • 41% retention rate for newly acquired donors.

Congratulations to City Harvest on this honor.  Thank you!  Keep up the amazing work and data-driven discoveries!




Share Now: Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Facebook