4 Steps for Starting a Virtual Food Drive for the Holidays

Volunteers at a food drive
| 5 min read Fundraising Strategy

Volunteering at a food drive is one of the more popular ways to donate time during the holiday season and help those who are less fortunate. This year, a virtual food drive is a fantastic alternative to the traditional in-person method. Below, learn how to set up a successful virtual food drive to raise money for the food banks and nonprofits helping the hungry during this critical time.

What is a virtual food drive?

Unlike a traditional food drive, in which you collect canned and dried goods to later donate to a food bank, a virtual food drive is entirely online. A virtual food drive allows you to help food banks feed those in need without ever having to leave your house. Instead of collecting food items to donate, a virtual food drive allows you to help others online by collecting monetary donations that you can later give to the food bank or nonprofit of your choice.

Why is helping food banks this year so important? 

Food insecurity continues to be a big problem in the US. In 2021, 13.5 million US households struggled to get the food they needed, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Moreover, Feeding America stated that in 2021, 53 million people relied on food banks and community programs to get food. Now, in the face of inflation and economic hardship, the need for food assistance has become even greater.

By helping food banks through a virtual food drive, you can make an impact in the following ways:

  • Help families that are struggling to make ends meet put food on the table.
  • Feed children of households that have to turn to food banks because they do not qualify for federal food assistance programs.
  • Give a family a holiday meal they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford this year because of financial stressors.
  • Support low-income families and marginalized communities that face hunger at higher rates due to systemic racial injustice.

How to host a virtual food drive and make a difference

1. Determine the need

Because it takes food banks much more time and resources to receive and sort actual food donations, the best way to help is by donating money instead of food items. Of course, your local food bank may have different needs, so it’s always best to check with them directly.

Feeding America’s food bank finder can help you locate the food bank closest to you. From there, you can ask them the best way to help and for other virtual food drive ideas. To virtually volunteer during the holidays means to raise money in lieu of tangible items, but food banks also accept canned goods and other food staples.

2. Set up your online fundraiser

Decide whether you’d like to organize a team fundraiser or take care of running the fundraiser on your own. Then, choose the top crowdfunding site for your needs. Be sure to read some fundraising tips when getting started to make your virtual food drive as successful as possible.

Additionally, check out these other GoFundMe resources: 

3. Show the impact of donations

In your fundraiser story, it’s important to explain exactly why you decided to run an online food drive, and exactly how donations will be used. The best way to engage people is to tell them how their donations will help those in need.

One idea is to create an outline in your fundraiser description that easily explains the impact of certain dollar amounts. This is where it’s important to speak with the food bank or nonprofit you plan on helping and find out how far $5, $10, and even $100 can go.

With that information, you can provide a clear incentive for people to make larger donations by outlining the impact. For example:

  • A $100 donation will feed a family of four for a week.
  • A $500 donation will purchase half a pallet of food boxes.
  • A $1,000 donation will purchase an entire pallet of food boxes.

4. Get everyone on board

Use social media to rally your fundraising team, as well as your network of friends and family members. Create a catchy fundraiser hashtag to help people remember your cause, and share your fundraiser on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, as well as through email and text messages. Explain why a virtual food drive is critical to helping individuals and families in times of crisis, but keep your messages and social media posts relatively short so readers stay engaged.

It’s no secret that people are more inclined to partake in charitable giving during the holidays, so consider highlighting the importance of virtual giving in the spirit of the holidays this year. As big, end-of-year holidays approach, start to increase your asks for donations. Take a look at our holiday giving guide for ideas on other ways you can give back to the community this holiday season. These stories of kindness are also sure to put you in the holiday spirit.

Are you ready to help feed those in need?

Now that you know how to give back virtually, there has never been a better time to start fundraising for folks in need of food. Make a difference today in the lives of people facing hunger, and start a GoFundMe to support food banks and nonprofits right now.

Written by Brittany Chambers

I believe we all have the power to make a difference. Through informative and heartfelt content, I hope to create change and inspire others to give back to those who need it most.