Volunteer Relations

One of the main goals of the season was to inform the public about the gleaning project; which Community Harvest was successful in. But in terms of recruiting volunteers to participate, the project has some improvements to make. 

Challenges 

1. New project, people were a little hesitant to get on board.

2. Gleans were inconsistent and sporadic.

3. Little notice was given as to when a glean was going to happen.

4. The distance required to get to some of the gleans was further than people wanted or were able to travel.

5. The gleans were often times too big of a job for the small turnout of volunteers, which was overwhelming for volunteers, made people feel inadequate and that did not accomplish enough gleaning.

Solutions

1. Use 2012 successes for 2013 advertising, stressing the need for more people to get involved, challenge folks glean more than in the 2012 year.

2. Work to establish regular gleaning days even if these events are not specifically gleaning but another food or garden event.

3. Again, working with existing donors to establish gleans further in advance in which to organize some of the larger groups (high schoolers, businesses, etc.) Using calendars, which have reminders, past events and gleans listed as a guideline on when and who to call is helpful.

4. Establishing more localized recruiting and ownership of the gleaning project such as in the Chelan example.

5. Carefully matching the number of volunteers with the size of the glean so as not to overwhelm the volunteer or appear to the donor that you are not interested enough in gleaning everything he/she has to offer.

Chelan Case Study 

In Chelan, Community Harvest had the opportunity to regularly glean from a farm for whole 2012 growing season. These gleans were successful because of the dedication of the Chelan Food Bank volunteer coordinator. The Community Harvest Gleaning Coordinator’s office is in Wenatchee, about 45 minutes away from Chelan so involving local people from the City of Chelan was imperative to the success of this project. Every week Community Harvest met at the same time, same place and worked for about two hours. In keeping the gleans consistent and regular, volunteers knew what to expect and it was easier to recruit new volunteers from the community. This model of localized recruitment helps to ensure the long-term success and sustainability of a gleaning project, particularly when the target area is so large.