Brand Manager

Virginia Food Access Network

GrowVA

An initiative developed for the Virginia Food Access Network

 

Live Client Project 

Background: When the First Lady of Virginia asked teams of Brandcenter students to volunteer to work on a cause project for the Virginia Food Access Network, our team jumped at the opportunity. Not only did we feel honored to be working on a cause so dear to the First Lady, but we were extremely humbled to potentially create work that would benefit our fellow Virginians. 

The Ask: How does the Virginia Food Access Network (VFAN) improve usage of its website, especially the data stories and analytics tools, to ultimately facilitate food access throughout Virginia. 

Problem: The VFAN website is stagnant and complicated. Users sign up to be part of the network, but often don't know what to do with the site due to the complexity and ambiguity of the data stories and information provided. Therefore, they end up not utilizing it, or even forgetting that it exists. 

Research: We reached out to both current "subscribers" to the site, as well as members of the food access community to get more information about how they interact, or would interact, with VFAN. What we found through multiple interviews, is that the number one concern of food access organizations is their financial security, not finding connections or information about the food access network in VA. Through analysis of select publicly available financial statements, we determined that the average Virginian food bank budget is derived from 70% private contributions, 19% government fees and grants, and 11% programs and service fees. Ultimately 90% of these funds go directly to program services, while 7% is spent on fundraising and 3% is spent on management. With such little room to pay for overhead, organizations often rely heavily on volunteers. Volunteers save an organization roughly $28 each hour they are present. FeedMore Virginia valued the 160,563 hours served with them at $4,488,468. But we recognized that it's not just manual labor or transportation that can save these organizations money; people can donate marketing and design know-how, financial knowledge, and clerical assistance as well.

What We Heard: 
"Funding is always our number one problem." -Virginia Peninsula Food Bank
"The demand for our services is increasing constantly, but our budget stays the same." - Appalachian Sustainable Development
"We tap the same few donors and granters every year--- if just one doesn't pull through, that means we can't serve thousands of people." -Colonial Heights Food Bank 

Insight: Food access organizations, including those who subscribe to VFAN, first need to be secure financially before they can begin to effectively use the resources of the Virginia Food Access Network, particularly the data stories.  

Approach: Using VFAN to not only connect organizations that fight hunger to data stories, but also leverage that data to connect food access organizations and people to the resources they need. Ultimately this will develop stronger, healthier food access organizations. We specifically focused on bolstering the volunteer network, which ultimately saves these organizations money. Both able bodied and able minded people want to donate their time to food access causes, but there isn't a central place for them to do so. 

Rationale: Financial security is the number one concern for food access organizations. Alleviating part, or all, of this concern allows them to expand program efforts and focus on growing their reach. It also gives them a reason to want to look at the data stories on the VFAN site as they seek to further their reach outside of their local service area. 

Strategy: Grow Virginia's Growers.

Target: Food access organizations (food banks, farmers, educators, etc.) as well as able minded and able bodied volunteers interested in assisting them. 

 
 
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  The   GrowVA  initiative would start by connecting both able bodied and able minded volunteers to food access organizations that need them. These connections would assist with the financial burdens carried by these organizations' programs, and also strengthen them so they can better utilize the core of VFAN, including the data stories. GrowVA could easily expand to include other resources, including connections to grants, alternative funding, marketing materials, and communications systems. 

The GrowVA initiative would start by connecting both able bodied and able minded volunteers to food access organizations that need them. These connections would assist with the financial burdens carried by these organizations' programs, and also strengthen them so they can better utilize the core of VFAN, including the data stories. GrowVA could easily expand to include other resources, including connections to grants, alternative funding, marketing materials, and communications systems. 

 
 
  The data stories and maps  that were the focal point of the original VFAN website, are now distilled into digestible sections, from which insights can be easily gleaned. 

The data stories and maps that were the focal point of the original VFAN website, are now distilled into digestible sections, from which insights can be easily gleaned. 

  Currently, VFAN  spans   hundreds of organizations in Virginia, but despite this wide reach, most of them don't see any benefit from the site. The goal is to strengthen the foundation of these organizations with GrowVA, especially in a financial capacity, so that they can better connect to resources and utilize the data that VFAN offers. 

Currently, VFAN spans hundreds of organizations in Virginia, but despite this wide reach, most of them don't see any benefit from the site. The goal is to strengthen the foundation of these organizations with GrowVA, especially in a financial capacity, so that they can better connect to resources and utilize the data that VFAN offers. 

 

 

Creative Team
Strategists: Nick Carr + Andrew Tuchow
Copywriter: Will Luck
Experience Designers: Billy Reano
Creative Brand MAnager: Rachel Cohen

*VCU BRandcenter Student Project For Educational Purposes- Full Keynote Available Upon Request