Podcast Interview: Feeding America Food Bank Loves VolunteerHub


Feeding America Food Bank Loves VolunteerHub

Eric Burger
March 20, 2024

Rhode Island Community Food Bank Volunteers

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The Rhode Island Community Food Bank, part of the Feeding America network, has seen significant benefits using VolunteerHub integrated with Raiser's Edge. We spoke with Jeanne Hebert, Volunteer Coordinator, to explore their approach to leveraging VolunteerHub.

Could you tell me about the origins of Rhode Island Community Food Bank and your role within the organization?

Jeanne: Absolutely. Rhode Island Community Food Bank has been around since 1982. In the last few years, we've been able to distribute millions of pounds of food to people within the Rhode Island community. We are the only food bank in the state of Rhode Island. I have been with the organization for over 6 years and work as the food bank volunteer coordinator. My job is to field all of our volunteer requests, schedule volunteers, and then work on special projects within the community. 

What are some notable impacts that the Rhode Island Community Food Bank has made within the local community?

Jeanne: We are currently distributing to 143 agencies throughout the state. Last year, we distributed over 16 million pounds of food, almost 4 million pounds of that was fresh produce and another 3 million pounds was culturally relevant food, which we are incredibly proud of. 

How many volunteers do you recruit each year and what roles do they fill?

Jeanne: Our volunteer program is a little bit smaller than it was pre-COVID, but we are currently scheduling and hosting about 1700 volunteers here at our warehouse in our production room each year. Our volunteers help with packing, sorting, and inspecting food donations. 

How did you manage volunteers before implementing VolunteerHub?

Jeanne: Before VolunteerHub, we used an Excel spreadsheet, lots of back-and-forth emails, and a shared Outlook calendar to keep track of data associated with our volunteer program. So, it was kind of a combination of a few outdated methods. It was pretty clear that we needed a more centralized way of managing our volunteer program. 

When you were in the process of looking for volunteer management software, what made VolunteerHub stand out?

Jeanne: As a member of the Feeding America Network, I reached out to the entire network to inquire about their volunteer management solutions, and VolunteerHub consistently emerged as a top recommendation. We looked at a few different volunteer management solutions and the more we dug into VolunteerHub and talked with other Feeding America Food Banks about their experiences with VolunteerHub, the more we could see that it would be perfect for our needs. 

What aspects of VolunteerHub do you find most valuable in your day-to-day operations?

Jeanne: All the things that we can now automate with VolunteerHub. The combination of VolunteerHub's features has been a huge time saver for us and has eliminated almost all the back-and-forth communications that we used to need to run the program. VolunteerHub has freed up my time to focus on other things. 

Can you talk about your collaboration with Brown University and how VolunteerHub has played a role in that special project?

Jeanne: Definitely. Every four years, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank partners with Brown University in Providence to complete a hunger survey. It is an enormous undertaking headed up by a team of researchers at Brown University. Brown University contracts our food bank to provide all the volunteers for the study. VolunteerHub has made recruiting, engaging, and managing volunteers for this special project so much easier. It's streamlined the process for us. I can't speak enough to how much easier VolunteerHub made this project for our food bank. 

Can you talk about the value of VolunteerHub's integration with Raiser's Edge?

Jeanne: The integration between VolunteerHub and Raiser's Edge was a key factor in why we ended up going with VolunteerHub when selecting a volunteer management solution. The ability to directly sync volunteer data with Raiser's Edge is huge. The process is so easy, I do a quick weekly sync, and boom all of our information is sent over to Raiser's Edge. The integration has helped us turn volunteers into donors. 

What was your VolunteerHub implementation experience like? Do you have any feedback on VolunteerHub support?

Jeanne: It has been fantastic. I can't say enough about Matt who walked us through the implementation process and did all of our training. He really took the time to make sure that we understood everything, specifically how VolunteerHub could work best for our program. I had a hundred questions and Matt answered all of them and made sure that we were comfortable with the software and good to go. Matt was incredible about getting us in a position for success. 

I've had an exceptional experience with Jennifer and VolunteerHub's support team. Jennifer's responsiveness and thoroughness in providing solutions to problems has been outstanding. What's truly remarkable is Jennifer's ability to anticipate my next question and address it before I even need to ask. You can't ask for better support than that. 

How can people in Rhode Island volunteer with your organization?

Jeanne: They can go to our website and see our upcoming volunteer opportunities. We are also active on social media if they want to learn more about the amazing things we are doing. 


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