When COVID-19 hit hard, many elderly people who relied on Milwaukee's food pantry faced a dual crisis: crowded grocery stores and public busses were more dangerous for the high-risk population, and supplies at the food pantry were dwindling because panic-buying in supermarkets has left the stores with little food to donate.


Additionally, the organization itself faced unprecedented challenges. To curb the spread of the virus, volunteers began to deliver food essentials to elderly food pantry clients in the Milwaukee area. Unfortunately, due to a lack of infrastructure that supports a mobile food pantry, their resources were severely strained by daily car rentals to ensure the community had enough to eat.


No one should ever go hungry, so something had to be done in order to keep the food pantry open.


We launched a fundraiser, but then faced the challenge of reaching people who would donate (especially during a time when so many people were struggling themselves).


We had to get creative, and with a very small budget (we spent less than $500), raised over $11,000 within a few weeks.


One of our mightiest tools was texting: The organization had over 20,000 phone numbers that were sitting and gathering dust in the database. We sent out a text every week of the campaign, urging recipients to share the link with friends or donate. 


Another powerful platform was Facebook. We took advantage of organic posts, and boy, was it valuable. The executive director published stories and other info about the campaign 3-4 times a week on her Facebook page. Every team member then shared her post (which was set to public) to 20-30 pages, groups, personal profiles etc. The Executive Director herself shared her posts on the walls of thousands of her friends. At least 1/3 of the funds came via this route. 


As the campaign touched us personally, we went to my Facebook and Instagram stories and raised over $1,500 with jumping jacks. We shared why we were raising funds and offered to do 10 jumping jacks for every dollar donated. Thousands of jumping jacks later, we couldn’t move our shoulders but it was a fun way to inch us to the end. 


The cherry on top were the multiple Milwaukee media outlets that aired our story. They recognized the importance of the work being done.

More about the fundraiser could be found by visiting 

You could read some of the news coverage here.