Hopelink’s Shoreline Food Bank wanted to develop a plan to raise community awareness of the food bank and increase donations of food and money. 501 Commons consultant Kathleen Wilson, an Executive Services Corps member and a Shoreline resident, conducted research for Hopelink that has guided their communications and community outreach efforts.
“The plan gave us baseline information about what our neighbors know about the Hopelink food bank and provided practical and well-articulated strategies. Armed with the interview results and the plan, we were able to move forward to raise community awareness regarding hunger in Shoreline and to increase support for our services.”
-Leslie Brooks, Shoreline Hopelink Manager
Kathy conducted a series of interviews with Hopelink staff, community leaders in Shoreline and nearby communities, local food banks and community service organizations, and Shoreline Hopelink supporters. The goals of the interviews were to:
- Research Hopelink's current visibility and presence in the Shoreline community
- Assess the potential for coordination with other agencies
- Determine how well the Shoreline community understands the services Hopelink provides.
The interviews helped the organization understand the level of awareness of the food bank and found that people were very willing to support Hopelink’s efforts to provide food to hungry people. Community service agencies and other food banks in the area were eager to work with Hopelink and had many ideas for collaboration and coordination.
The interviews helped draw attention to the importance of using a community building approach in Shoreline that was somewhat different from what works so well for Hopelink on the Eastside. Given its long history, Hopelink is essentially synonymous with "community service" on the Eastside. In the Shoreline community, Hopelink needed to build a new set of relationships, a grassroots volunteer network, and a donor infrastructure around the food bank.
The plan called for the food bank to start by developing volunteer leadership with strong marketing and organizational skills to help develop relationships that will drive food and financial contributions. This strategy ensures that Hopelink Food Bank is adopted and "owned" by local residents