5 tips for an effective food drive

Jars of peanut butter lined up and cans of tuna stacked
October 16, 2022
by Abbie Wilson

Food drives are an easy way to unite coworkers, students, and community members to make a difference for our neighbors facing hunger. Filling up a food drive box is a tangible way for kids—and adults—to see the impact of their efforts. 

When planning a food drive with your coworkers, church, school, or even your family, there are four easy things to consider that’ll help make your drive successful – and fun.  


Connect with your local food bank before you start your drive 

The first step of any food drive is to check in with the food bank near you. Because every food bank organizes its food drives differently, be sure to ask for information on how you register if they prefer virtual or traditional food drives, if there are food donation guidelines, and where you should drop off food donations. Food banks often have rules around what type of food and household items they can accept from food drives. Also, depending on the season, they may need specific things more than others. 

Food banks may even have a staff member or food drive toolkit to help you with collection boxes, promotional materials, and even ideas on what drives have worked well in your community before!  


Consider a fully virtual food drive.  

Did you know that many food banks prefer virtual food drives over traditional ones? Because Feeding America and food banks can often purchase food at costs much lower than what you would pay at a grocery store, collecting monetary donations can have a bigger impact than food donations. Plus, setting up an online fundraiser is super easy! No more heavy boxes of pasta sauce, jars of peanut butter, and rice. 

Start a virtual food drive.

We are here to help make your virtual food drive a success.


Get your network involved. 

Share your mission with your family and friends through your social media network. Explain your drive and the impact it can have. Maybe, share what inspired you to start a food drive. Doing so may inspire others to join you in the fight against hunger. Also, sharing photos of your progress is a nice way to get folks involved virtually! 


Add cash pledges to the mix. 

Pledges are great for folks who aren’t geologically close to donating. Just get pledgers to donate cash based on the number of food items collected. For example, have them pledge a small amount, maybe $1, $2, or $3, per item. This way, if you collect 100 items and have five pledgers at $1, you’ll be able to deliver $500 and your 100 food items to the food bank! Don’t forget to thank all the folks who donated and share the number of items and dollars given because of your efforts.  


Make it fun!  

Consider having a “voting” box food drive for your group whereby every item donated acts as a “vote” among a couple of options. Whether it is something light-hearted like voting for your favorite summer meal/dessert (having 2-4 options) or something people will get more invested in, like voting for your next team building outing activity for work or an upcoming school field trip’s location. Be sure to inform your group that they can cast as many “votes” as they’d like by donating multiple food items. This works best at a location where folks frequently go to encourage ongoing engagement and a robust voting competition. Remember: folks will be more likely to bring donations in more than once if they are invested in the vote!  

Consider creating teams—workplace departments, school classes, or grades—and making the food drive a friendly competition. For example, have separate collection locations and share the number of items each team has halfway through the competition to encourage and motivate more repeat participation.