By Emma Henzes SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News)-
The Food Bank of Central New York has been using new technology to make volunteering even easier than it was before.
A new web system allows volunteers to create an account and sign waivers online without even coming to the Food Bank’s office located off I-690 in Syracuse. When volunteers arrive at the office, they can sign-in on an electronic kiosk which will log their hours.
Lynn Hy, the Chief Development Officer, feels that this is better than the “old way” of pen and paper.
“All of our volunteer opportunities are listed online through a website… It lists everything. We have opportunities March, April and may listed on there,” Hy said. “And June is going to be on there in a couple days.”
Hy says that the number of volunteers on a given day can range anywhere from two to thirty and without the help from volunteers, the Food Bank wouldn’t be so successful.
This new system is thanks to Delta Airlines donation. Delta has made a commitment to volunteer, sending their local agents to volunteer once a month. Hy said they were more than happy to help finance the project when she brought up the idea.
The Food Bank’s web presence doesn’t stop just simply on their new interface. They are very active on social media, especially Facebook. Some people who are looking to benefit from the Food Bank contact them directly through private messaging on social media through Facebook messenger mostly. They ask where they access food and where the next mobile food truck will be. An automated message will be immediately sent back to the client telling them to call or to wait for a response. And then shortly after, someone will directly respond. Hy says, “we make sure people have the information and be armed with the information they need, so they can help themselves.”
“We think those are really important avenues to get our message out. Our message might be about an upcoming event, it might be that we need volunteers,” Hy said. “We post things such as our partners agencies might be closing due to weather, which we are all in complete understanding of right now.”
The ideas for social media posts come from a committee that has employees from all departments in it. Every few days they talk about what we are going to post, what are we going to put up and this group is represented different departments and agencies so people get a true picture of everything they do at the food bank.
“We think it’s a really quick and easy way for us be able to get out information in that instant, that’s important. It’s a way to thank our volunteers and to thank our donors,” Hy said. “A way to let people know how to get involved.”
Hy feels that all non-profit organizations should have a social media presence. “I mean that’s just where people are going as well as know. Whether it’s through Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, people go there to get information. If you aren’t part of that information gathering location, you are really missing out on people.”
“When people are liking and sharing and you see it on your friend’s feed, say Facebook feed. It also helps raise awareness for what you are doing. So whether it’s possibly reaching a potential volunteer another potential donor or even an employee.”
Which reminded Hy to tell me that the Food Bank is even on LinkedIn, a professional social networking site, as a way to hold up their organization’s brand and post job opportunities.