Steve Stefko riding his bike

Virtual food and fund drives help feed our community

How to start a fundraiserBy Kathy Hayes

In the wake of COVID-19, bicycling enthusiast Steve Stefko approached the Food Bank for Larimer County with an idea: he would raise donations for the food bank by doing a 100-mile ride on a neighborhood course. The food bank’s development team embraced the idea and created a virtual site for secure online donations. Stefko customized the site to publicize his ride, set a goal of raising $2,000, and started pedaling.

In the end, he rode 200 miles and raised $8,500 for the food bank.

Since implementing a safe drive-up model for food distribution during the pandemic, clients are each picking up 80-85 lbs. of food as compared to the 40-45 lbs. clients previously got when “shopping” inside.

The food bank has also expanded ways to engage the community in its mission, including virtual drives. “We’re very happy to work with individuals, groups, and businesses who want to host a virtual food or fund drive for us,” says Paul Donnelly, communications director for the Food Bank for Larimer County.

Virtual food drives and fund drives both help the food bank feed others, but dollars raised from a fund drive provide greater flexibility and buying power, says Donnelly. “We can acquire food cheaper than just about anyone else.”

IFood Bank accomplishmentsn fact, for every dollar donated, the food bank provides two meals to those in need.

Many businesses are also creating competitive virtual drives that are generating big results. This year’s Corporate Food Fight, for example, engaged 14 teams that raised $232,000 including matching funds from participating companies.

Individuals’ Facebook fundraisers also have been very successful.

“Our assumption is we’re going to continue to serve about 400 families per day,” Donnelly says. “Every little bit helps.”