A New Take on Food Drives

Cover screen image from 5 Steps for a Successful Food Drive video

This week, our readings outlined the benefits of remediation, which is a process that uses digital technologies to transform traditional communications, such as printed reports, into multimedia content that can capture and inform today’s users. In nonprofit communications, remediation offers an opportunity to reimagine standard content in ways that encourage greater support for an organization’s mission. I used this process to revamp instructions for hosting a food drive.

Redesigning Food Drive Instructions

Food drives are an important means of garnering donations of shelf-stable goods for food banks, but my online research revealed that many food banks take a somewhat dated approach to engaging with potential food-drive volunteers. I found that instructions for hosting a food drive were provided as either a basic web page or a downloadable PDF. Therefore, I endeavored to transform these instructions into an interactive set of guidelines and hopefully generate new energy around a long-established method of donor support. Because food drives are a cross-generational activity, my challenge was to design content that would be useful and enjoyable to an audience of varying ages.

A Step-by-Step Approach

In Chapter 2 of Technical Communication: A Design-Centric Approach, Balzotti applies a five-step approach to writing and designing documents. The steps can be summarized as follows:  

  1. Empathize—Try to get into the mind of the users and see the world from their points of view.
  2. Define—Determine what the audience needs.
  3. Ideate—Brainstorm ways to address these concerns.
  4. Prototype—Develop and refine the solution from step 3.
  5. Test—Perform a trial run to see if the solution successfully meets users’ needs.

I did not strictly follow this methodology, but the steps offered a helpful framework for initiating remediation. Throughout the process, focusing on the audience was a driving concern. I considered the specific instructions the audience would require, and I concentrated on creating content simple enough for a child to understand but not too juvenile for an adult to enjoy. I decided a video would be an effective way to deliver concise information while engaging users with sight and sound.

Design and Accessibility Considerations

I divided the instructions for hosting a food drive into five simple steps and used Adobe Express to create the above video. I added photos for visual interest and some upbeat music to give the video an energetic feel. I tried to incorporate the principles of design Dr. Lucas outlined by using colors, fonts, and headings consistently and providing ample negative space.

To enhance accessibility, all the slides included typed text for those with hearing impairment, and I narrated the content for those who may be visually impaired. (I am sure there are more high-tech ways to address these concerns, but this was my novice attempt.) Finally, when viewed on YouTube, users can download a flyer of items needed for the food drive via a link underneath the video.

The video transforms what are in some cases lengthy (and sort of boring) instructions into bite-size chunks and uses images and audio to further attract and engage the audience.

Increasing Engagement

With nearly 13 percent of U.S. households experiencing some level of food insecurity in 2022, food banks play a vital role in providing supplemental food assistance. Given this ongoing need, video instructions for hosting a food drive offer a modern way for food banks to encourage increased engagement in this vital form of service.

Beth Kennedy

Beth Kennedy

Beth Kennedy has spent more than 25 years in nonprofit communications, helping organizations connect with their supporters. Currently, she is graduate student in Technical and Professional Writing.
North Carolina