“Should I donate food or donate money?” CAFB answers.

January 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

Credit: Taylor Craig

If you want to do good, and be good at doing good, we’re here to help. Look for our new blog series: “Your questions. CAFB’s answers.” to help you understand how your community food bank provides hunger relief. Learn how to navigate through the philanthropy jargon, and become a savvy supporter of CAFB’s mission.

On to today’s question.

If you’ve heard us say, “Every dollar donated provides $5 worth of nutritious food”, you may think it’s a no brainer – of course food donations are best.

This video produced by University of Pennsylvania Center for High-Impact Philanthropy highlights key benefits financial donations provide to CAFB and the 350 Partner Agencies we work with.

Food banks and pantries generally have greater buying power than the average consumer, which allows us to provide the right foods to support our diverse clientele.  Cash donations, especially online donations, don’t take as much time to process, where food donations from the community are thoroughly inspected for safety. You may also prefer to give cash, since food donations are not tax-deductable.

So, sure, cash sounds like a great gift for the Food Bank. What’s better than the multiplier effect, lower overhead, and a tax deduction to boot?

Not so fast.

Donating food provides something money can’t – a donation experience.   The time a donor takes to choose their donation, deliver their donation, and share their experience with a friend or family member has tremendous value.  For parents and educators, a food donation can be a teachable moment.

A shining example is the educational and service learning program provided by A Legacy of Giving. Each year, hundreds of Austin-area students learn how to address poverty through a food and coat drive.

Credit: Darcy Elizabeth Photography

Then, there is Scouting for Food, a new partner with Souper Bowl of Caring.  Scouts get a new opportunity to interact with their community by knocking on doors and picking up bags of donated non-perishable food items to bring back to the Food Bank.

Credit: CAFB

For that simple donation of beans, The Food Bank benefits from grassroots marketing, a discussion about nutrition as donors decide the type of food their neighbors may enjoy, and potentially a new connection between a Scout and his neighbor.  This is priceless.

So, the answer to your question is…


Donate food if it moves you to act. Donate money if it inspires you to talk to your friends, co-workers and neighbors to help join in.  However you stake your claim on ending hunger in Central Texas, we’ll be there to accept your gift.  Click here to get started.

Do you have a question you’d like us to answer through the blog?  Send an email to lgoddard@austinfoodbank.org.


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