"Building Back Better" Survey Results
Thank you to all that completed the survey. Your input is vital to how we move forward as the pandemic (hopefully) continues to recede and our client numbers fall. If you did not take the survey, you can still do so by clicking here. If you are interested in reading my thoughts on the results, you can click here.
Q.1. Have you volunteered at the Pantry during distributions since the start of the pandemic?
Q.2-1.* Thinking about your experience as a volunteer, how much do you enjoy working at the Pantry during distributions?
Q.2-2.* How do you think most clients would rate their experience at the Pantry?
*Only asked if respondent volunteered during the pandemic
Q.3. What do you think are the ADVANTAGES of our current distribution model? Check all that apply.
Q.4. What do you think are the DISADVANTAGES of our current distribution model? Check all that apply.
Q.5. How important is the current distribution model to your commitment to volunteering at Daily Bread?
Q.6. Would you still volunteer for Daily Bread if it operated more like a small store? (i.e., open more days a week for longer hours).
Q.7. If the Pantry were open from 8:00 AM until 6:00 PM, what days of the week would you be available to volunteer?
Q.8. With the Pantry operating in "shop" mode, how many hours in a given day would you consider working for?
Q.9. Would you consider volunteering in the evening (assuming it would close no later than 8:00PM)?
Q.10. For safety and other reasons, what do you think should be the MINIMUM number of volunteers in the Pantry during "open" hours?
Q.11. One advantage of longer opening hours is that we could offer more individual guidance and support to clients (for example, make them aware of other assistance available such as SNAP (food stamp) benefits). Would you be prepared to learn about these programs and provide guidance to clients?
Q.12. Another possible enhancement to our services would be to offer delivery options to home-bound clients. Would you be prepared to help with such a program by making deliveries?
Q.13. Let 'em rip! Give us YOUR thoughts on how we might improve our distribution model. Your ideas can develop on the previous questions or be completely different.*
* Some comments edited for brevity, but that doesn't mean the full comment is not appreciated or has not been considered in full. Let me know if you'd like the full version of all comments.
Some Thoughts On The Survey
First, some context. The Newsletter email (and therefore the survey) was sent to a little shy of 200 volunteers or ex-volunteers. Around 70% opened the email, and around 45% clicked through to one or more articles (this is fairly typical for the Newsletter). 19% of recipients clicked through to the survey and 15% actually took it. By most marketing standards, that's a pretty high level of engagement, but it is worth bearing in mind that these numbers indicate that by no means is every viewpoint represented.
My major takeaway is that Daily Bread has some awesome and dedicated volunteers who are committed to helping at the Pantry even if we experiment with other ways to serve our clients. That said, the current distribution model has produced a small silver lining from the pandemic - a much larger base of volunteers who spend many hours at the Pantry every week. (Pre-pandemic, only a few volunteers spent more than a few hours per month at the Pantry). There is no doubt changing the model risks losing the unique atmosphere that is so apparent at pandemic-era distributions. So we need to proceed cautiously. Moving to a model that MIGHT benefit some clients more would not be worthwhile if volunteer commitment was substantially diluted and therefore the needs of the majority of clients were potentially prejudiced.
On the other hand, comparing the advantages identified of the current model versus the disadvantages, the latter far outweigh the former. Now, I must admit to having my hand lightly touching the scale here, because of the way the questions were formulated. But even taking this into account, it is clear the vast majority of volunteers can see significant drawbacks in the way we are currently doing things. I believe this is still the case, even though client satisfaction as assessed by volunteers is high. With regard to that assessment, I do not think it is too wide of the mark, but we'd need to do some direct polling of clients to validate it. And even if it were true, I don't think we should be too complacent about it. We are giving away a large quantity of free, high-quality food. We would definitely need to be doing something seriously wrong if that did not generate pretty high satisfaction scores.
The next steps will be to review the survey results with our Board, and then let the whole thing percolate for a few weeks. There are several moving pieces involved in making any changes, not least the client visit trends shown here and some interesting new functionality being introduced by our Pantry Management software (it will be able to support a reservation system for the first time). In the end though, I strongly believe we should be making some changes this year. The Pantry transformed itself virtually overnight to respond to the pandemic, but we transformed into an operation very tailored to the moment. We owe it to our clients - and to our donors and other supporters - to transform once again as conditions change and best practices in responding to food insecurity evolve.
That's my two cents. As always, let me know your thoughts - in person or via firstname.lastname@example.org.