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HUNGER VOLUNTEER CONNECTION: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Browse our FAQ to learn more about how you can get involved in the fight against hunger in America. Also learn more about Hunger Volunteer Connection and its goals, founder and collaborative partners.

About Hunger Volunteer Connection

What is Hunger Volunteer Connection (HVC)?

Hunger Volunteer Connection is a national initiative with the vision to ignite and catapult volunteering in the hunger space by creating a national call to action that inspires more people to get involved and connects volunteers and organizations to tools, resources and training opportunities that bolster strategic volunteering activities. Hunger Volunteer Connection educates, empowers and engages individuals and organizations to collaborate to address hunger in communities across the country.

What are the goals and objectives of Hunger Volunteer Connection?

Hunger affects tens of millions of Americans. If we all join together—government, businesses, organizations and individuals—we can help raise awareness of the problem, work together to change the policies, and implement the programs and activities to solve it.

Our goal is to strengthen the capacity and reach of organizations fighting hunger through the donation of at least 500,000 hours of service in the fight against hunger by September 2018.

With this in mind, our hope is to accomplish three objectives:

  • Inspire and engage more people to dedicate their time, talents and voices to the fight against hunger
  • Increase volunteers’ participation in strategic service activities that can yield greater results and impact toward reducing hunger in the United States
  • Help organizations increase capacity to engage volunteers in strategic volunteerism, including skills-based work and advocacy

Who is behind the Hunger Volunteer Connection initiative?

ConAgra Foods Foundation is the founding partner for HVC and served as the primary funder from 2013-2016. Beginning in January 2016, HVC became a program of the Alliance to End Hunger.

How did HVC begin?

In 2013, The ConAgra Foods Foundation identified volunteerism as an untapped resource to address hunger in the United States. With the desire to drive a deeper engagement beyond the food drive toward advocacy, ConAgra Foods Foundation set out to create a national call to action in which consumers, families and youth together can address hunger across the U.S. through strategic volunteerism—nationally or locally, in-person or virtually.

Who are the nonprofit partners participating in this initiative?

Hunger Volunteer Connection is a collaboration among six leading nonprofit organizations with expertise in volunteerism and civic engagement to initiate change in communities across the nation: Alliance to End Hunger, Cities of Service, Hunger Free America, Points of Light, Taproot Foundation and VolunteerMatch.

Understanding Hunger

What is the source for your hunger statistics?

In 1995, the USDA, using data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, first published numbers on the extent of hunger and “food insecurity” in America. The report was compiled based on a U.S. Census Bureau questionnaire that annually asks households a detailed series of questions about foods eaten, meals skipped, the amount and cost of foods purchased, and worries about hunger. The report has since been issued every year.

For more information about hunger statistics in your community, visit: http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/key-statistics-graphics.aspx.

What is the difference between hunger and food insecurity?

Food insecurity—the condition assessed in the food security survey and represented in USDA food security reports—is a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food. The USDA describes households as food insecure if they are “at times, uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food for all household members because they had insufficient money and other resources for food.” Hunger is an individual-level physiological condition that may result from food insecurity.

For more information on the definitions, please visit: http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/definitions-of-food-security.aspx.

Driving Volunteerism

What is strategic volunteerism?

Strategic volunteerism in the hunger space is defined as activities that have the greatest potential for high, long-term impact on food insecurity. These activities specifically focus on:

  • Building the long-term capacity of organizations to ease the burden of using their limited funds to pay for professional services (skills-based or pro bono, organizational governance)
  • Helping communities to grow, distribute and sustain access points to farm-fresh foods (gardens, community supported agriculture, farmers’ markets)
  • Increasing the awareness of and connecting families to the Federal Nutrition Programs such as SNAP, summer meals and school breakfast programs
  • Participating in advocacy actions that will inform and engage elected officials to champion and preserve Federal funding for nutrition and anti-poverty programs and to strengthen the ability of these programs to aid Americans in need
  • For practical purposes, strategic volunteerism (and anything that goes beyond the food drive and food sorting) refers to activities that can be even more impactful in battling food insecurity and improving the lives of families.

For Volunteers

Why should I volunteer?

Volunteering can be far more than simply doing a good deed. In fact, volunteering can be a great way to develop skills, learn more about career options, make friends, garner new professional contacts, get exercise, spend time with family or even just shake up your routine. Part of finding the right volunteer opportunity is being honest about what you want to experience and accomplish. If you can serve as an effective volunteer while accomplishing a personal or professional goal, it’s a win-win situation.

How is this site different than other volunteer resource sites?

The Internet has a wealth of resources about volunteering in general. The Hunger Volunteer Connection was built to bring tools, resources and people together under one banner to fight hunger in our country. This website is designed so that your organization can select the tools or resources that will help you best grow and enhance your volunteer engagement program. The site also provides a place for volunteers and organizations to stay connected and engaged around current events, anti-hunger initiatives, new research and legislation in the fight against hunger. We will also use this website to share success stories and connect individuals with the largest database of hunger volunteer opportunities in the world.

How will volunteering have an impact on hunger in the U.S.?

Hunger is a problem in all 50 states and affects every county in the U.S. Hunger is also complex and requires a coordinated, nationwide response with simultaneous work toward solutions at the national and local levels. If we are going to fight hunger and create change, it needs to be addressed in our communities as well as through Federal policies and legislation. Strategic volunteerism is about connecting volunteers to activities that can add increased effectiveness to organizations fighting hunger, in terms of efficiency or reach, and that have a more lasting impact for our community members who struggle with hunger.

Connecting to Opportunities

What are the different types of volunteer opportunities I can find on this site?

The spectrum of opportunities for addressing food insecurity range from easy, team efforts (such as food drives or food sorting at a food bank) to more skills-oriented options such as advocacy and helping expand SNAP enrollment. We need a national movement to engage more individuals in service at the far ends of the spectrum for increased impact and results. Discover what type of volunteer activity is right for you here.

This site is about volunteering for hunger. Why are there volunteer projects in the search results not related to hunger?

Each organization that uses All for Good or VolunteerMatch has the ability to assign pre-defined issue or cause areas to their organizational profiles and volunteer opportunities. Any organization that selects the category “hunger” or “hunger and homelessness” will appear in the search results for the HVC site. This means it is possible to see a few opportunities that aren’t an exact fit for anti-hunger efforts or the opportunity may come from an organization that works on multiple social issues in addition to hunger. Don’t be discouraged. Bringing you the combined hunger listings from All for Good and VolunteerMatch increases the chance that you will find an opportunity that reflects your personal interests, skills and availability. The majority of search results will be relevant to fighting hunger in your community. We also encourage volunteers to use the advanced search options here to find the right opportunity for you.

How do I find a volunteer opportunity?

To find a volunteer opportunity, go to our Search page, enter your ZIP code and click on the search button. Results nearest to you will be displayed first in the list. You can filter the results by date using the drop-down menus at the top of the form. Once you have found an opportunity that interests you, click on “Volunteer Now” to sign up on the organization’s website or on a partner website.

How do I search for a specific organization?

Try entering the organization’s name on the “Your area of interest” field on the Search page; then click the search button.

What is a virtual volunteer opportunity and how do I find one?

Virtual volunteer opportunities can be completed from a remote location, virtually anywhere, usually with a computer, Internet connection, phone and/or fax. Virtual opportunities do not require the volunteer to be physically present at a specific location.

To find a virtual volunteer opportunity, simply select “Virtual” in the “Narrow Your Choices” section of the Search page.

Can I sign up a team for a volunteer project?

Yes! Volunteer assignments can generally accommodate groups of up to 10 people. Larger group requests may be accommodated on a case-by-case basis.

How much time do I need to dedicate to a single volunteer opportunity?

A project can range from several minutes to a few hours or multiple months to years, depending on the type of volunteer activity that most interests you. For example, if an organization wants supporters to write their elected official, a volunteer may only need to dedicate the time necessary to find their senator’s email address, edit a template and hit send. On the other hand, if a person agrees to serve as a pro bono volunteer and help a hunger-fighting organization rebuild its website, the project could take four to six months. Actual time commitments will vary depending on the volunteer’s role, the project scope and the organization’s desired timeframe for completion. No matter how much time you have available to volunteer, there is a role for you. Explore our volunteer opportunities here and discover how you can make a difference.

What do I need to wear or bring to my volunteer assignment?

Clothing requirements vary by volunteer opportunity. Generally speaking, for non-skills-based volunteer opportunities, you should wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. Also be aware that some work is done outdoors, so bring layers and dress appropriately for the weather, including wind, sun and fog.

Depending upon the length and nature of your volunteer opportunity, you may need to bring a lunch, water bottle, sunscreen, a hat and layered clothing for weather changes. Please leave your valuables at home—there may not be secure storage at any of the volunteer sites. Any tools you’ll need for volunteer assignments will be provided at the site. Smoking, alcohol and radios are not allowed on volunteer sites.

Will I be paid for my time volunteering?

A volunteer is defined as someone who willingly donates their time, without pay, to help people in need. As a volunteer you will not be paid for your time.

Will I be reimbursed for my travel to and from a volunteer assignment?

Unfortunately, HCV or its partners cannot reimburse anyone for gas mileage, parking or other related travel expenses for volunteer-related activities.

Can I/we volunteer on a major holiday?

Yes. Volunteers are needed 365 days a year at most organizations; however, many hunger-fighting organizations are often overwhelmed with requests to volunteer on days like Thanksgiving and Christmas. We recommend volunteering throughout the year, particularly at times when organizations have the fewest requests from volunteers: January, February, July and August.

What if I can't make it?

If there is any reason you are unable to volunteer for a time you signed up for, please contact the volunteer coordinator associated with your project as soon as possible.

My project ended. How can I continue to support organizations that fight hunger?

Thank you for the time you dedicated to HVC and your project! If you enjoyed your time volunteering but are looking for a different way to give your time, you can visit our search page to learn about all the different ways you can volunteer to end hunger. If you don’t have the time to dedicate to another volunteer assignment, you can follow any of the partners in HVC on social media and share their work and mission with your social communities. Finally, you can always donate dollars directly to a hunger-fighting organization of your choice. All cash donations are tax deductible.

I searched the database but didn't find volunteer opportunities in my community or that interest me. What do I do?

The exciting thing about volunteering is that there are in-person and virtual opportunities available in our volunteer database. If virtual volunteering doesn’t appeal to you, consider connecting directly with the local affiliates of national organizations such as Feeding America®, the HandsOn Network or 4H to identify other ways you can make a difference.

We are also looking to build our volunteer database. If you know of an organization that is doing great things to address hunger in your community, and their opportunities do not show up in the search results, you can still help. Click here to learn how you can encourage other organizations to join HVC.

Building Volunteer Skills

What tools and resources are available for me on the Hunger Volunteer Connection site?

HVC resources will include research, volunteering toolkits specific to different types of volunteer opportunities, success stories, videos, blogs and more, which champion best practices and models for effective and result-driven volunteerism.

I want to leverage my personal and professional skills to volunteer. What steps can I take to become a skills-based or pro bono volunteer?

This is called pro bono or skills-based volunteering. Nonprofits can benefit tremendously from additional professional resources. You will find a wide range of pro bono opportunities in areas such as HR, strategy, IT, marketing and project management. Opportunities for support can engage early-career professionals to seasoned executives. Become a pro bono volunteer today by reviewing the opportunities database on HVC or sign up at Taproot+ to begin using your skills immediately by viewing a curated list of projects that match your skillset.

How can I become a hunger advocate in my community?

Visit the Alliance to End Hunger Advocacy Playbook to learn how you can inform and engage elected officials to champion an end to hunger. The playbook will provide:

  • The information you need to make a difference
  • Step-by-step guidance on 30 advocacy activities
  • Free resources to hone in on actions that are right for you

Looking for Partners

Is Hunger Volunteer Connection looking for funders and partners?

Yes! Finding long-term sustainable solutions to hunger is very complex. We know we can’t do it alone. It will take the collaboration of organizations, communities and individuals, and public and private foundations as well as other funders in the hunger space working together toward a common goal. HVC has opportunities for funders of all types and sizes to join the initiative and leverage the power of people and volunteerism to make a lasting impact. If you are a visionary funder inspired by innovative new ventures, please contact us for more information. We look forward to partnering with you in the fight to end hunger.

Technical Questions

What are the supported browsers for HVC?

The Hunger Volunteer Connection site is supported on the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome on Windows, and the latest version of Safari on Mac OS X. On mobile, Hunger Volunteer Connection is supported on Chrome on Androids (version 4.4.x and later) as well as on Safari on iPhones (4s and later) and on any iPads with Retina Display.

For Hunger-Fighting Organizations

Can I receive grant support from HVC?

Grant support is not available through Hunger Volunteer Connection. To date, grant support from the ConAgra Foods Foundation makes this website and all national or local trainings available at no costs to community-based organizations across the country.

How is this site different than other volunteer resource sites?

The Internet has a wealth of resources about volunteering in general. The site www.hungervolunteerconnection.org is a build on www.hungervolunteer.org, to connect tools, resources and communities of people together in one place in order to increase and engage more volunteers in the hunger space across the country. The library of resources is designed so that your organization can identify and select the tools, ranging from toolkits to blogs, that can help your organization grow and enhance its volunteer engagement program. The site will also provide a place for volunteers and organizations to stay connected and engaged around current events, other anti-hunger initiatives in the U.S., new research, policies and legislations in the fight against hunger. Another key feature of the site is that as a collective community, we will have a place to share success stories and build the largest database of hunger volunteer opportunities available to date.

We are a small organization. Can this site still be useful to my organization?

Yes, Hunger Volunteer Connection provides a diversity of resources for organizations of different sizes and areas of interest in the hunger space. Whether your organization is completely run by volunteers or you have a volunteer programs team with a Volunteer Coordinator or Manager, there is a tool or resource available on the site or through additional links to help you take the next step in the development of your organization’s volunteer engagement program.

As a first step, we suggest your organization consider taking the Volunteer Program Improvement Model Assessment created by VolunteerMatch. This tool will provide you with insight into where your program currently stands, as well as specific action steps and resources to improve your volunteer engagement program.

How do I add volunteer opportunities to this site?

The volunteer opportunities on this site draw from the hunger listings available through www.allforgood.org and www.volunteermatch.org. If you would like your volunteer projects included on this site, please follow the instructions here to ensure individuals can connect with your organization to make a difference.

How do I add my success story to this site?

Please follow the instructions here to submit your success story. You must submit all the requested items and have consent to submit the information for consideration. Please note that site administrators have the right to include, edit or reject stories submitted for display on the site.

Tools & Resources

Are training opportunities available in my location?

The six national partners for Hunger Volunteer Connection provide a range of training opportunities at the national and local level. For up-to-date information, please visit our News & Alerts page and join our partners’ mailing lists. All the trainings currently offered through the initiative are available free of charge.

Where can I find training and technical assistance?

The level and type of training, technical assistance or coaching provided by each of the six national partners is customized based on their unique contributions to the initiative. For additional information on what each organization will offer, please visit the About the Initiative page for more information.

The six national partners for Hunger Volunteer Connection provide a range of training opportunities at the national and local level. For up-to-date information, please visit our News & Alerts page and join our partners’ mailing lists. All the trainings currently offered through the initiative are available free of charge.

Where can I find additional resources to better prepare for volunteers?

On the Tools and Resources page, nonprofits can search and connect to tools and resources based on their unique needs, from strategy to evaluation. There are also tools and resources to help your organization engage different types of volunteers (i.e., youth, skills based, etc.) and connect volunteers to different types of service opportunities from food drives to advocacy.

Here are a few additional resources that you might find helpful:

What is the best way to approach a company about pro bono or skills-based volunteerism?

As with any partnership, spell out the win-win in your pitch. Start with the benefits of volunteering to the company—from employee pride to skill development. Scope a clear and beneficial project that will strengthen your organization’s capacity. Be sure to clearly articulate the number of hours, expected outcomes, desired timeline and project deliverables. With a thoughtfully scoped project in hand, you will be ready to secure the professional expertise needed to complete your pro bono project. Taproot Foundation has a diversity of tools and resources to help your organization be successful with a pro bono project: https://www.taprootplus.org/campaigns/hungervolunteerconnection

How do I get my organization's tool featured on this site?

We are looking to highlight a wide range of tools and resources to support organizations’ development in the use of strategic volunteerism. You can submit your request using our Contact Us form. You will be asked to provide your name, the name of your organization, your contact information and a brief description of the tool you would like to feature on our website.

I have additional questions or comments about Hunger Volunteer Connection—how can I share my thoughts and feedback?

We want to hear from our community partners on the frontlines and welcome thoughts, ideas and feedback through our Contact Us page. We will make every effort to get back to you within five to seven business days.

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