Research from Food Banks Canada indicates that more than 800,000 Canadians access food banks across the country every month. While hunger is a visible problem in larger urban centers, the reality is that more than 150,000 of food bank users are in small towns and rural centers. That’s why Farm Credit Canada, a self-funded federal Crown corporation that provides financing to the Canadian agriculture industry, supports Food Banks Canada through the FCC Drive Away Hunger campaign, as part of its overarching corporate social responsibility strategy. The campaign provides FCC an opportunity to support rural Canada and give back to the communities where our customers live and work. The program has been successful at raising funds to help thousands of Canadians who are struggling to get enough to eat.
The campaign began in 2004 when one employee travelled around his community by tractor collecting food to redistribute. Recognizing the positive contributions to the local food bank, FCC expanded the strategy and created an entire corporate social responsibility program around his idea to make a national impact. After nearly 15 years, it has become the largest employee-led food drive in Canada.
The main goal each year is to raise money and food to support food banks across Canada during the annual drive in October. A secondary goal is to increase awareness of hunger in our communities and the support Food Banks Canada provides to millions of Canadians each year.
In 2016, the program’s key objectives were:
- Collect donations of four million meals nationwide.
- Maintain participation of at least 402 schools (2015 result) to increase awareness of hunger in Canada and collect food donations.
- Maintain 250 partnerships with various companies that demonstrate they are champions for the campaign by donating funds and food. In 2015, our focus moved from acquiring additional partners toward engagement and support of current partners.
FCC employees, partner organizations, students and food banks join forces each year to raise food and funds to support fellow Canadians. FCC and the entire agriculture industry is passionate about growing food and feeding the world. That’s why a food drive resonates with our audience. No one should go hungry, especially in Canada, where the agriculture and agri-food industry contribute over CDN$100 billion annually to Canada’s GDP and employs 2.2 million Canadians (1 in 8 jobs).
In 2016 the campaign launched on 9 May. The first four months are dedicated to developing relationships and creating marketing materials to support FCC and our partners. Mid-September we launch the campaign to the public and schools via a media release and social media. The most excitement happens in mid-October when a convoy of tractors heads out in communities across Canada to collect food donations from schools, businesses and local FCC offices. It’s a unique and fun opportunity to see tractors driving around communities, stopping at both rural and urban schools and businesses.
A winning entry
This campaign won a 2017 IABC Gold Quill Award of Merit in the Corporate Social Responsibility category. For more than 40 years, IABC’s Gold Quill Awards program has evaluated the work of communication professionals around the globe, recognizing the best of the best in the profession.
The creative is targeted primarily toward rural Canadians in smaller communities, encouraging them to give back and support their local food banks. The headline reads “Fight hunger in our community” with a call to action to “Join the drive.” The copy is meant to evoke confidence that our audience can make a difference by joining the campaign.
There are more than 150 tactics supporting the campaign including print, digital, media releases, video, displays, online, email and outdoor signage. In 2016, we were more active on social media, which has increased awareness and engagement from our audiences. These tactics are intended to increase community engagement and focus our audience’s attention on the issue of hunger. Once the tour is complete, we run print and digital ads that announce the total meals raised and recognizes the partners and communities for coming together to help fight hunger in Canada.
One major change implemented in 2015 was the shift from reporting pounds of food collected to the number of meals provided, to give a more tangible way to measure and communicate donations. FCC first approached Food Banks Canada in 2014 with the idea to collaborate on an impact measure that we researched and developed: a meals conversion metric of CDN$1 providing three meals and one pound of food equaling one meal for those in need. This metric makes it easier to communicate impact. It was shared with Food Banks Canada’s member food banks in 2015 and we used it to report our campaign totals. This measure was developed with FCC’s research department and the Food Banks research team to convey the impact a donation will have on an individual in need.
Another challenge came after receiving feedback from elementary school principals. Several schools indicated some families were unable to provide food donations due to financial constraints and children were left out of the drive. We didn’t want anyone to feel left out, so we designed customized activity sheets. We printed and shipped 200,000 of these sheets to schools across Canada, which were then used to create an art collage where their school would be automatically entered to win CDN$500 toward their local food bank. This was highly regarded by the schools and allowed children from all socioeconomic backgrounds to partake in the food drive.
FCC was proud to be recognized by Food Banks Canada with the Innovator of the Year Award in June 2016. It’s an award for a corporate partner who has made a unique contribution to Food Banks Canada and filled a need in addressing the issue of hunger or food banking in Canada. Thanks to our research and partnership, the CDN$1.00 = three meals metric is a consistent number now used for national fundraising, cause-marketing and the food drive.
Goal: Collect 4 million meals nationally.
Result: We collected 6.75 million meals for hungry Canadians—over 1.5 million more meals than in 2015. With the help of partners, schools and volunteers, FCC Drive Away Hunger collected the highest number of meals raised since its inception. Over 33 million meals have been collected by FCC’s flagship program since 2004.
Goal: Maintain participation of at least 402 schools (2015 result) to increase awareness of hunger in Canada and collect food donations.
Result: A total of 386 schools participated in the drive. Although slightly below our 2015 results of 402 schools, the addition of the activity page contest for the children increased engagement and involvement at the schools, and it further supported a dialogue for hunger awareness in Canada and local communities.
Goal: Maintain 250 partnerships with various companies who demonstrate they are champions for the campaign by donating funds and food. In 2015, our focus moved from acquiring additional partners toward activation and support of current partners.
Result: We exceeded this goal with 280 national partners.
In the media, FCC Drive Away Hunger contributes to awareness about hunger in Canada, as well as placing FCC in a positive light. The data below includes all searches for FCC Drive Away Hunger names and hashtags.
- Total impressions (Facebook and Twitter): 3 million
- Total mentions (Facebook and Twitter): 1,500
- Retweets (Twitter): 1,000
- Leger Media report results (2015): FCC Drive Away Hunger is the second highest contributor to media pick-up about Farm Credit Canada, with 224 articles in print and radio publications across Canada last year (nine percent of total media published about FCC). Media favorability for the topic of FCC Drive Away Hunger was 66, contributing to an overall FCC score of 65 in 2015-2016. FCC aims for a score 7 points higher than other financial institutions. We exceeded the target; the rating was 56 for the past year.