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Client Success Story: Feeding Tampa Bay Steps Up During the Health Crisis

“As a team, we knew we had to lean in at this moment in time. Whoever sits on the sidelines right now will be that many months behind when it’s all over.”

 – Kelley Sims, Chief Development Officer, Feeding Tampa Bay

Fundraising might feel impossible right now for many nonprofits. Hitting your goals depends on relationship building, meetings and events…basic human interaction. But with a little creativity, perseverance and yes, optimism, some nonprofits are finding ways to make an incredible difference and transform their fundraising activities during the COVID-19 global health crisis.

Like Feeding Tampa Bay, a Byrne Pelofsky client. Feeding Tampa Bay is the largest food rescue and distribution organization in central Florida. When the coronavirus and subsequent lockdown began disrupting life on a massive scale, Feeding Tampa Bay knew they had a responsibility to serve their community. They put their foot on the gas pedal and as a result, are seeing major transformation and momentum in their fundraising activities.

Call to Action: Make Your New Case

On day one, Feeding Tampa Bay began sharing with long-time partners that the requests for food were dramatically increasing, while retail food donations were 65% off due to consumer over-purchasing – an equation that meant funds would need to be raised at record levels. Corporations led the charge with Bank of America, USAA, Florida Blue and Publix all chipping in six-figure gifts. The Tampa Bay Rays followed suit with a $100,000 gift and $150,000 challenge grant (which has not been fully matched). Within a week, Feeding Tampa Bay invited their core donors and community leaders to convene to discuss the more than 100% increase in demand for food in the wake of COVID-19.

More than thirty attended the video meeting where President and CEO of Feeding Tampa Bay, Thomas Mantz, spoke to what Feeding Tampa Bay is seeing on the front lines – children who are out of school without access to meals, vulnerable senior citizens unable to leave their homes and families who have lost their jobs suddenly in need of their services.   He spoke to the size and scope of these populations, explained the challenges of decreases in food donations brought about by resource hoarding and the subsequent need to purchase food,  the cost to handle food with heightened safety protocols, decreases in their volunteer workforce, the cost of renting trucks, hiring drivers and delivering food and prepared meals.  He proposed innovative solutions, rolled out a plan and a call to action.

“As in all crises, we are here, steadfast and strong. But we can’t do our work alone. We must ask all of you, and our community to help us. We need your support financially, now more than ever…. We are aware that many of us have experienced financial losses – and are concerned economically – but there are those who can give, and we are asking you to support us now.”

Thomas Mantz, President and CEO of Feeding Tampa Bay

Soon after, Feeding Tampa Bay received several large gifts from high-profile individuals and corporations. Tom Brady, newly signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, made a leadership gift to provide over 750,000 meals– his first gift in the Tampa Bay area.  An individual family donated $500,000, while two others gave $250,000 each.

Intensify Personal Connections

In just over two weeks, Feeding Tampa Bay acquired 1,046 new donors and raised over $2 million. In four weeks they raised over $5 million – with $700,000 coming from 2,500 brand new donors! The Feeding Tampa Bay development team is calling every $500+ donor and personally thanking them for their gift. Every week, the senior leadership team holds video conference calls with corporate/institutional donors and the $500+ donors to keep them abreast of activities, developments, progress and impact.

Go Digital

From a marketing perspective, Feeding Tampa Bay is utilizing a custom hashtag (#StandwithFTB) to raise awareness on social media platforms. A local chef is volunteering his time to do Facebook Live sessions called “Dining-In with Feeding Tampa Bay” in which he makes meals out of the components found in the meal delivery boxes. Viewers can donate through a portal during and after the live sessions.

Leverage a Captive Audience

Through the chaos and panic of it all, Feeding Tampa Bay found new and innovative ways to reach new donors and build on (even improve) their existing relationships.

Some nonprofits might worry that in a situation like this, their services aren’t valued in the same way as a food bank. Even if that were true, the takeaway from Feeding Tampa’s Bay story is that fear and worry won’t get you far. Focus on the advantages of this strange situation we’re in right now. Fundraisers have a captive audience….literally! Many people are stuck at home, hungry to make a difference.  Leverage this time to reach out to new people and your longtime supporters in new and exciting ways.

We WILL come out of this on the other side. Where do you want your organization to be when that happens?

For more information on Feeding Tampa Bay and what Byrne Pelofsky can do to help your organization get through the economic downturn, please contact Beth Silverstein, Vice President, at for a chat. 

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