Customer Case Study: Ballard Food Bank

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Ballard Food Bank is a Seattle-based organization with the mission:

To bring food and hope to our neighbors…because there can be enough for everyone.

This mission is achieved through a combination of services, including a food bank, home delivery, a Weekend Food for Kids program, a Community Resource Hub, and more.

Ballard Food Bank uses a combination of fundraising events and charitable giving, grants, and in-kind donations to support its ambitious mission. In response to the pandemic in 2020, they moved their annual Seattle Turkey Trot to GiveSignup | RunSignup to take advantage of tools for virtual races, and they expanded their use of the platform to include ticket events and fundraising campaigns. Highlights of their technology partnership include:

  • Despite the move to virtual, supporters remained committed to the cause and the tradition, with more than 1,500 virtual participants in the virtual Seattle Turkey Trot and nearly 500 donations.
  • 240 supporters (and counting) joined the Ballard Food Bank for a more personal virtual experience, purchasing a Ticket for their Conversations and Cooking Series.
  • The Ballard Food Bank Hope Beyond Hunger Capital Campaign implemented a GiveSignup Fundraising Campaign to engage their community in the latter stages of the campaign, raising more than $50,000 in the first two months.

One thing I really appreciate about GiveSignup | RunSignup is it makes it really easy to try something new, easy to innovate. Those are the exact tools we need right now as we fundraise to cross the finish line and realize our dream of owning our home.

Colleen Martinson, Director of Development & Communications

The Challenge

Ballard Food Bank came to GiveSignup | RunSignup with two challenges. The first challenge was immediate: they needed a better virtual solution for their annual Seattle Turkey Trot to ensure they could deliver their traditional event to their community and bring in some revenue.

The second challenge was broader: Mytet Gumin, the Individual Giving and Events Manager, was looking for a single technology provider that they could use across multiple fundraising efforts, making it easier for both supporters and the Ballard Food Bank team.


Going Virtual with the Seattle Turkey Trot

Ballard Food Bank first made the switch to GiveSignup | RunSignup when it became clear that their annual event would not be able to proceed as normal. With a long history (the Turkey Trot began in 2007), the organization felt it was important to keep the tradition going for their loyal supporters – and knew that any opportunity to raise money in 2020 was worthwhile. They settled on a fully virtual “run anywhere, any distance” model, and got strong participation considering the circumstances.

  • Like most Thanksgiving run/walk/rides, virtual participation couldn’t keep up with normal Turkey Trot numbers – but in this case, that still meant more than 1,500 participants in the Virtual Seattle Turkey Trot.
  • All told, the event raised more than $136,000 including more than $30,000 from donations and fundraising efforts from participants. In future years, the team hopes to further encourage fundraising by participating supporters.
  • Participants came from 23 states, expanding the reach of the event beyond their typical pool of event day supporters and creating a national awareness of their cause.
  • In a creative twist, the Turkey Trot used Virtual Challenge results to allow participants to enter any distance completed rather than sticking with a common 5K. This made for a more inclusive, family-friendly event that anyone could show support for.

The virtual race this year we had folks literally all over the country – even the North Pole. We always want people to be excited about our events and be able to do them together, even when they’re apart.

Colleen Martinson, Director of Development and Communications

Pivoting to Virtual Ticket Events to Engage the Community in a Capital Campaign

Ballard Food Bank is in the midst of a crucial $13.9 million Hope Beyond Hunger capital campaign to move them into their own building. As they close in on their goal (they are 91% of the way there!), and moved into the Community Phase of the campaign, they have used a few GiveSignup tools to support their efforts.

Without the ability to host their typical community events, Ballard Food Bank has been focusing on virtual events instead, including a highly interactive Ticket Event. Currently in progress is the Cooking & Conversation Series, a virtual ticket event including a cooking class with local Chef Ethan Stowell (meal kits with all ingredients are picked up in advance), recipes, wine, and a conversation with Ballard Food Bank’s Executive Director, Jen Muzia.

Tickets are available for four Thursdays in April and May, with two different meal options and price points. While the final weeks of the event are still in progress, the early takeaways are positive, with 120 couples purchasing tickets. Motivating factors for using the GiveSign, up Ticket platform included:

  • Ease of use and thoroughness of reporting for the Ballard Food Bank team. This simplifies the processes of communicating with attendees and makes it easy to maintain accurate internal records.
  • Ease of use and familiarity for supporters. Keeping events on a single platform reduces confusion by limiting the accounts and passwords needed and maintaining a similar look and feel.

For people who attend multiple events, we want it to be as easy as possible, and we want them to recognize the platform rather than giving them multiple platforms with new accounts for different things. With GiveSignup | RunSignup, we could it was easy for our supporters.

Mytet Gumin, Individual Giving and Events Manager

Engaging the Community in a Capital Campaign Via Fundraising Campaigns

As another piece of their Hope Beyond Hunger Capital Campaign, Ballard Food Bank introduced a Fundraising Campaign on GiveSignup to engage their strongest supporters as fundraisers and advocates. This campaign allowed individuals to fundraise for the cause through automatically created fundraising pages – each one branded to reflect the Ballard Food Bank mission, but customizable to allow the supporter to share why they were supporting the cause.

  • In less than 2 months, their 17 fundraisers have reached 160 donors and raised more than $50,000, a third of their goal for the fundraising campaign.
  • The fundraising pages from their supporters are highly personal, with customized stories and pictures sharing why the cause is important to them.

Lessons from Ballard Food Bank

The strategy used by Ballard Food Bank to get their GiveSignup Fundraising Campaign off the ground helped ensure the campaign got off on the right foot and was ultimately set up for success.

First, they engaged only those closest to the organization, including leaders and board members, and walked them through every step of becoming a fundraiser and customizing their fundraising pages. While this hands-on approach may not be feasible once for scaling a fundraising campaign, starting with extra help ensured that their most invested supporters put the organization in a good light – and that they knew how to encourage their followers to engage as well.

Problem Solved.

While operating any nonprofit in 2020 was a challenge, the Ballard Food Bank team credits their successes to the dedication and loyalty of their supporters, and the willingness of both their team and their supporters to get creative.

The Development team at Ballard Food Bank viewed their challenges as mirroring what the operations team at the organization had to do. Just as the Food Delivery team had to innovate and pivot from a grocery-store setup to a pickup and delivery operation, the Development team had to innovate and pivot to more accessible virtual options. GiveSignup | RunSignup helped them to be agile and quickly get their virtual operations up and running.

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