This month saw the launch of the UK’s biggest ever food collection project with shoppers at Tesco being asked to donate food (from a selection of most needed items). This made us think about how the internet can help future food collection campaigns.

Using social media

Both The Trussell Trust and FareShare already have a strong social media presence, but if they could build this then they could see an increase in donations with strategic campaigns. Twitter and Facebook offer charities the chance to ask for food donations from those who’ve already shown an interest in them. Expanding on this, Twitter in particular could be used to send alerts when foodbanks are nearly empty – serving as an immediate reminder to followers of how their help is desperately needed. This could be done using scheduled tweets or it could involve individual foodbanks creating their own accounts to tweet to their locally based followers.

Making the most of hashtags

Hashtags can be a great way of seeing exactly who is talking about your campaign but there does need to be a sound reasoning behind them. The Tesco project is being supported by the #everycanhelps hashtag playing on Tesco’s slogan. Daybreak are also currently running a campaign with Co-operative Food stores and the Salvation Army and are asking donors to tweet them pictures of their donations marking them with #youcanhelp.

#CharityTuesday is an example of a hashtag that’s become a common sight in the UK where users are encouraged to tweet about their favourite charities with accounts such asLocalgiving getting behind the hashtag each week. Perhaps foodbanks could unite with the #foodbank or #ukfoodbank hashtag or maybe local foodbanks would find it more useful to use a specific hashtag to them so locals can track the hashtag to see exactly what’s most in demand at any time.

Networking between charities

In order to make the most of donations and volunteers, online platforms could be set up for charity workers to communicate with one another. Whether this be through a Facebook group, Google Docs or a Pinterest board there are many options for ways to highlight which foodstuffs are most in demand in different locations and they could also be used to show when volunteers are most needed.

Creating virtual wishlists

Particularly at this time of year, wishlists are a common sight on charity websites. Save The Children have got a good range of gifts on their site at the moment to help improve lives – similarly digital media could be used to create a list of what products are desperately needed at foodbanks. Whether this be done on a local scale listing foodstuffs that an individual foodbank really needs and quantifying how many are needed, or as part of a national campaign, it could encourage online food donations or simply raise awareness of what’s most in demand so that individuals can make donations directly to their local foodbank.

Of course, this could be used as part of a bigger campaign. With Love Food Hate Wasteshowing that £23 billion worth of edible food ends up in landfills each year, food wastage is a real problem – what if you could take this problem and make it a solution to the foodbanks woes? You could ask people to forgo their weekly shop and live off of what they already have in their house for one week, instead donating a trolley full of food from a virtual wishlist to a foodbank.

Making things clear with infographics

We’ve already talked about the rise in popularity of infographics as a way to communicate welfare reform, but could they also be a way to help visualise the significance of foodbanks? If a charity website were to feature an infographic explaining exactly how foodbanks work then this could be shared on social media to introduce new people to the project.

If you’ve got any other ideas of how charities could use the internet to help foodbanks please let us know in the comments or drop us an email

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