#GivingTuesday 2013 has not disappointed. After bursting onto the scene last year as the one-day antidote to Black Friday fisticuffs, it is back this year as a massive month-long celebration of the creative ways people are combining technology and good old-fashioned elbow grease to help their fellow human beings this holiday season. For the hunger advocacy community alone, the #Giving Tuesday site is a rich banquet of approximately 540 partners of all sizes, shapes and geographic persuasions who have raised their flag under the GivingTuesday hashtag.
To help the Food Tank community keep track of all the action, we would like to take this opportunity to highlight a few of the #GivingTuesday efforts we found particularly interesting:
While it may sound like a fraternity prank, it’s actually a thoughtful and fun campaign that takes a long-view on helping folks in the developing world. Brought to you by the Atma Foundation, the campaign promises that with every donation ($20), a letter and chicken are sent to women in Bukavu, DRC.
Mind you, we’re not talking Perdue; we mean a real-live chicken that brings income to families with its eggs as well as empowerment to the women who are now “eating, enterprising, and paying for their own needs.” No dumb clucks here!
From Tony Soprano’s home state comes another effort that sounds like it might be up to no good, but is in fact doing great things indeed. Started by a single volunteer eleven years ago when fresh produce drives were as distant an idea as streaming video in the palm of your hand, Grow-a-Row has flourished into the 800-lb turnip of New Jersey’s free fresh produce scene.
In the past year alone, the organization has double its volume to more than 800,000 pounds of free fresh produce delivered to food pantries, homeless shelters, crisis centers, soup kitchens, and food banks throughout the state. As the local leader in growing and donating fresh produce, its #GivingTuesday goal is to raise $50,000 in individual donations and matching corporate gifts.
Don’t let this name fool you either. While it may sound like the next farm over from Pepperidge Farm, Mill Creek Farm is just as awesome as our friends Grow-a-Row and Cluck-o-Grams. An urban educational farm in West Philadelphia dedicated to “improving access to fresh produce, building a healthy community and environment, and promoting a just & sustainable food system,” Mill Creek grows and distribute organic produce to low-income communities. They also teach members of the community to do likewise.
For #GivingTuesday, they have our vote for most engaging marketing effort we’ve seen so far with a crowd-sourcing campaign on IndieGogo complete with toe-tapping video that makes plunging your fingers into the dirt look like the best thing to do on a sunny afternoon.
The most brilliant ideas are often the simplest. Case in point: AmpleHarvest.org, which connects the 49 million food insecure Americans with the 40 million who grow fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs, and nuts in home gardens. The result is nothing less than the 21st century reinvention of a WWII victory garden: amateur farmers do what they love doing, then donate what they don’t need to people in need.
Approximately 6,500 pantries across 50 states are registered to receive fresh produce from AmpleHarvest.org. In 2010, when the company had just celebrated its first birthday, it moved more than three million pounds of freshly grown local produce. In 2011, less than a year later, that number had grown to 20 million pounds.
For #GivingTuesday 2013, AmpleHarvest.org doesn’t have a cute video or a fun campaign. As an organization that has won accolades from everyone from the White House to the TED Foundation, it continues to move forward with the strongest force any human being has: the force of its own intelligence.
The most visible representative of the food community for #GivingTuesday 2013 was Unilever. A founding partner of the #GivingTuesday movement, they doubled down this year with a company-wide food drive competition and matching corporate donation campaign. In a similar vein, it encouraged employees to donate time in local pantries and other community-focused activities.
By #GivingTuesday mailing-a-chicken standards, Unilever’s efforts seem like basic stuff. But would you believe it if we told you that they are part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan goal to help a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being. Through a combination of brand-loyalty and sustainable manufacturing, it is perhaps the most sweeping plan we’ve encountered. And it seems like something the company is quite serious about.
Our apologies if you’ve heard of Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan or any of these other efforts. Our goal was to provide you with an entertaining and hopefully informative roundup of some of the things that struck our fancy this #GivingTuesday.
Since this is a short list, we thought we’d conclude with a few honorable mentions: Bank of America, another large and generous corporate member in the fight against food insecurity, The Community Soup Kitchen of Morristown, NJ, which celebrated 10,000 straight days of providing meals earlier this year; the Philadelphia Eagles, whose passionate co-owner and longtime food advocate Christina Weiss Lurie helped YouGiveGoods, launch the first national online campaign featuring fresh fruit and vegetables.
Anyone we missed? Please let us know.