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Food Shift: Revolutionizing Food Recovery with Salesforce

By January 31, 2014

By Kelly ErnstFriedman, Program Director of Food Shift

My organization diverted over 20,000 lbs. of edible food from going into the landfill. We’ve fed hundreds of families in the Bay Area. We have recovered and redistributed over 2,000 lbs. of milk as part of our Food for Kids program in Oakland schools. We have 65 volunteers. We’ve reached over 43,000 people through print, radio, social and online media.  I know this because my dashboard in Salesforce tells me so.

A lean and passionate nonprofit, Food Shift, was founded in the fall of 2011 and became a project of the Earth Island Institute in January 2012. We work collaboratively with communities, businesses and schools to develop sustainable, long-term solutions that reduce food waste and hunger. We have only two paid employees and like most nonprofits, we need to account for our efforts.

Food Shift

Two years ago, we kept track of our recovered food, donations and our events in a single Google Doc. All of our contacts were locked away in the director’s personal email and we had no systems in place for tracking volunteers, donations or grants.  Our information was scattered in many disparate locations and not everyone had access to what they needed, even if they did know where to find it.

We started using Salesforce as a contact and donor database, but as I spent more time on the Foundation website, watched YouTube tutorials and searched out admin blogs, I started thinking about not just what we need right now for our organization, but what we’ll need to help make our vision a reality in the years to come. As we grow, what will help our volunteers? Our managers? Our funders? How can we use Salesforce to grow our donor base? After each success I kept asking myself “What else can we make [Salesforce] do?”

You could retrace the growth of Food Shift by simply following the order of which apps we downloaded and objects we created.

I’m a huge proponent of Volunteers for Salesforce, which is the first app I ever downloaded. We use it to track our volunteers and the hours they spend on projects or events. This is incredibly beneficial internally as well as a valuable metric for funders.  Creating workflows has saved me hours in emailing. And thanks to visual workflows, volunteers can enter in new contacts without having to log in and program partners can update their food donation records in seconds.

volunteers dashboard

While a self-professed data geek, I’m definitely not a programmer.  I have, however, been able to customize several objects to meet our specific needs. We have a Rescued Food section in which we track what type and amount of food is recovered, who donated it, who received it, and which program or campaign it was donated under.  I also created two objects: Grants and Application/Proposals. These help us track our current grant requirements and deadlines for future proposals.

With Salesforce we aren’t just collected data, we are telling a story.

Food Shift is revolutionizing the food recovery sector by using food that would otherwise go to waste to feed the hungry and create jobs.  And we are gathering the data to prove it.