Volunteer Profile

Andrew Colebeck
fyfb.com web volunteer

In 2006, Andrew Colebeck, president of xguru, Inc., a leading Toronto web design and e-marketing company, began volunteering with FYFB to help the organization develop a website and e-newsletter. He was recognized by FYFB with a community service award this past year for his contributions towards helping FYFB realize its community vision. FYFB Connects caught up with him to learn more.

How did you get involved in FYFB?

It was as simple as getting a call from a friend asking if I could help. I've lived in the neighbourhood for many years and am well aware of the good work FYFB does in our community. It seemed like a great way to apply the successful internet marketing strategies we developed in the private sector to a non-profit organization.

What I liked about FYFB was they had already done most of the hard work necessary for a successful Internet strategy; a clear strategic plan with good material was written, an understandable message was identified, and they were ready to raise their profile online. From the outset, FYFB wanted to improve their dialogue with clients, donors and the public at large. We formed a working group with Doug Anweiler and Jennifer Wasley, started brainstorming, and launched an updated website soon afterwards. It was a perfect time to join the group and help the organization realize its vision. I think the cool part was that it was a bit overdue, and everyone at FYFB has eagerly contributed to keeping the website useful and informative.

What has your role been?

Both Jennifer and Doug are communications experts -- which made my role straightforward -- make a website and help keep the message flowing. The values and the people at the core of the organization are the story. I help get the message out. An effective website is important to any organization. FYFB lives up to the information in their website and e-newsletters and I've helped them develop regular, consistent and thoughtful publications. We get tremendous feedback and, by all accounts, the effort has been well-received by everyone.

What have you learned about FYFB?

It might be unavoidable, but a food bank has its stereotypes. For instance "food" is in its name. But FYFB is much more -- and I've learned that FYFB's support and advisory services are vital to many clients. I didn't know, and made it a priority to explain this message to website visitors. There are great volunteers here -- and perfect opportunity for others to participate. Offering an hour or two of your time each month can make the difference to someone in need. I've learned that FYFB is a great place to volunteer.

What impact has the website and e-newsletter had on FYFB?

There are two kinds of impacts which are important: organizational and public profile. Both are influenced by and driven by what FYFB does. Organizationally, the website has focused efforts to communicate regularly. A visible public profile is essential to survival as a non-profit organization.

Client demand at FYFB has reached record levels over the past couple of years. Hopefully, the website and newsletters have helped build awareness in the community. We anticipate that FYFB will provide the equivalent of 70,000 days of groceries through its 3-day food hampers this year -- that is a lot of food. It goes without saying that communicating FYFB's needs have resulted in stronger fundraising efforts -- and I think donors are able to see the benefits of their contributions as well. Moreover, we take the effort to keep in touch with them seriously. Building relationships between FYFB and its audience has seen FYFB's community of supporters grow. We have noticed that, while demands on services have grown substantially, the organization has managed to meet these challenges with donations and volunteer service.

What do you like best about helping FYFB?

Working with volunteers is a rewarding experience. We are trying to make our neighbourhood and city a friendlier place to live.

I also like that we are trying to demystify what a food bank does or can do in the community. The range of people coming to use the services at FYFB still amazes me to this day! The stories we tell each month on the website and e-newsletters help people learn more about organizations like this, what it means to be in need of assistance, how anyone can help alleviate it, and what the spirit of community in a major city like Toronto is all about. It lets people know the true value of community.

Volunteer orientation sessions are held at 2:00pm on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month. Click here to register online or drop by the Food Bank for more information.


photography courtesy of Claire Del Net www.clairedelnet.com.


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