Gleaners Food Bank is leading the fight against hunger in central and southeast Indiana. Every year, hundreds of thousands of hungry Hoosiers depend on Gleaners to put food on the table. The Feeding America member typically supports one-in-every-six people in its region, but 2020 drastically changed that need — increasing monthly meal distributions from 2.9 million to 6 million meals served.
As Gleaners was facing this 107% increase in services, it was also attracting first-time donors to its cause. In a single month, the food bank saw 7,500 first-time donors step up to serve the community's needs. To manage this new volume of donors and personally engage with them to determine who would like to support the mission for the long-term, Gleaners adopted Gravyty's AI fundraiser enablement solutions. In the world of fundraising, this may sound like a "good problem" to have. But, Peter Erotas, Manager of Community and Corporate Engagement for Gleaners, explains why that's not so.
"For the last several months, food insecurity has been in the spotlight. But, as the conversation shifts to the vaccine and what comes after the pandemic, food banks will still see an enormous need. Food insecurity was a national crisis before than pandemic, and we'll continue to see long lines after the pandemic. The meal gap continues to grow."
Gleaners' fundraisers have a directive to focus their time on building relationships for both individual and corporate giving to close the meal gap. Though Peter's focus is on corporate giving, he says that holistic relationships are still at the core of his work.
"The relationships themselves are more important than the funds," says Peter. "The funds support the operation and put food on tables, but what's really needed are mission partners. They're out there. They pretty much have blank checks and ask, 'what's needed?' They engage their employees and their foundations. Mission partners are what we are focused on seeking and cultivating from a corporate giving standpoint."
Peter has seen Gravyty and AI work magic on multiple occasions. For example, one organization had been on Peter's radar for years, but he had no traction with leadership. Gravyty suggested another attempt, which prompted him to ask, 'why hasn't this worked in the past?'. He connected with the board member who had initially identified the prospect, redirected the outreach to a different executive, and secured a $50,000 gift for Gleaner within a week and a half — covering the cost of Gravyty for the Gleaners team for an entire year.
On a separate occasion, Gravyty prompted Peter to reach out to an organization that had not donated to Gleaners since he was hired. After sending a First Draft, Peter received a phone call one week later about an end-of-year donation, "a surprise $100,000," as he put it.
Yet another example is with a lapsed donor that Peter was planning to disqualify because it had been years since they gave, and the organization is in an industry that was hit hard by the pandemic. However, Gravyty's AI prompted Peter to send a First Draft, and he did so, thinking, 'what's the worst that could happen?'. The next day, Peter had a response and a commitment for a $10,000 gift.
"Gravyty gives us the opportunity for the unexpected to happen and drop your own preconceived notions of someone's situation or where they might be. You don't know until you ask," says Peter.
Don't miss your chance to learn how AI empowers fundraising directly with Gleaners in our webinar on January 26. Peter's colleague, Debbie Russell, will dissect how AI allowed Gleaners to handle the holiday rush and ensure that fundraisers personally thanked every donor.