Second Harvest’s Food Sourcing/Development Team meets frequently to discuss and measure strategies in building relationships with its donors. A creative, soft approach (friendly; not overbearing) has proven advantageous in their line of success. Being sensitive to donors’ time and schedule are critical for the sustainability of the partnership.
Some helpful elements to successful donor relations are as follows:
Make sure to visit the residential fruit trees, orchard or farm before heading there with a group of volunteers. It is very important to evaluate how much produce is available in order to know how many volunteers, boxes, and ladders to bring with you. This will help with efficiency and ensure professionalism and timeliness during gleans.
Donation Acceptance and Management: Confirm procedures on “issues” to consider before, during and after produce donations are made. This step ensures that donations are put to work as donors intend. This element is in reference to produce donations from a donor’s garden or farm.
Safety is of the utmost importance. Neither side wants to deal with liability issues, or anyone getting hurt in general. Establish ground rules (general safety guidelines and specific requests from the homeowner) before you begin.
Incorporate age restrictions where necessary.
Leave the property cleaner than you found it. Upon completion of the harvest, have each volunteer scour the area for trash and debris. Bring trash bags in the event that yard waste bins are not available on-site. Do not leave the trash bags on-site for the homeowner to deal with. Take them with you.
Acknowledgment: Cover protocol for, and execution of, accurate, timely, and meaningful expressions of gratitude.
Send a “thank you” letter shortly after the event. Simple expressions of gratitude leave a good impression on the donor, increasing the likelihood for future gleans at their site. If possible, bring the letter to the harvest and have each volunteer sign it. The more personalized the better.
Attached is a structured breakdown of these terms from the Association of Donor Relations Professionals.