Many of us are familiar with the Meals on Wheels
concept — to deliver nutritious and affordable meals to people in need:
seniors, convalescents, and people living with disabilities. What many
don’t realize, however, says Leann Hackman-Carty of Calgary
Meals on Wheels, is that her agency also gives “significant help” to
students and homeless people.
In urgent need of a new facility in which to prepare all those meals, the nonprofit has just launched a major fundraising campaign — and a new website. We asked Leann to tell us about it:
Can you tell us a bit about Calgary Meals on Wheels? What’s the scope of your services?
There is no other agency in Calgary [Alberta, Canada] that provides
our comprehensive meal service to seniors, people with physical or
mental disabilities, and those recovering from illness or surgery.
These people are eligible for our service if they are unable to grocery
shop and/or cook for themselves. During the school year, Calgary Meals on Wheels provides soup for
lunch for more than 850 high-risk elementary school students, and over
1000 bag lunches each week for the working homeless. We prepare and
deliver about 500 frozen meals a week. These Magic Meals, as we call
them, are an excellent nutritional option for those people who do not
yet need our full meal service. And our Chopsticks on Wheels program
provides meals to our Chinese community.
That’s an ambitious undertaking! Who's doing all that?
A professional, dedicated kitchen staff prepares the nutritious
tasty meals each weekday in our own kitchen. About 75 volunteers,
essential to the operation of our Agency, go out every day to deliver
these meals. 425,000 meals were delivered in 2007. Calgary Meals on
Wheels could not function without the more than 46,000 hours of donated
time given each year by our staunch and loyal corps of some 650
We are a vital and unique service because:
- We prepare the nutritious tasty meals in our own kitchen
- We are able to accommodate special dietary needs (e.g. diabetic, celiac, renal)
- Our volunteers provide daily door-to-door delivery of the meals
- Our clients pay on a sliding scale according to their means
- Our clients do not need a referral
Because of this service, our clients can stay in their homes, remain
a part of their community, avoid malnutrition, and minimize their use
of our overly burdened health care system. We are helping our clients
preserve their health, well-being, and independence, and offering their
families peace of mind.
Calgary Meals on Wheels has just launched a major fundraising
effort — the “Meals or No Meals” Capital Campaign. How do you connect
your online and offline fundraising strategies?
the ability to donate online is new for our donors and supporters, so
this is something we will be promoting through our various
communication vehicles throughout the campaign.
You’ve had an active online presence for more than a decade — how has your website evolved?
prior to the Capital Campaign being launched, we revamped our entire
website. We wanted and needed new functionalities, and the solution we
chose was Wild Apricot. It will not only allow us to communicate more
effectively via the internet, but it will also enhance internal
capabilities from an administrative perspective.
What prompted you to create your current website?
need for a more user-friendly interface for staff, and the desire to
have a better online presence. It took a few weeks to get it to the
point where we wanted it, and we will ultimately have internal staff
What features of your website are the most popular or useful?
Right now it provides a comprehensive overview of what the
organization does, and how they can get involved. We hope to continue
to build its capabilities for staff, clients, donors, and board members.
If you were to offer advice to other nonprofits on making effective use of the Internet, what would be your top 3 tips?
- Think about who your audience/s are;
- Make the message clean and crisp, and answer the question “who cares?”;
- Keep thinking of ways to integrate your website into your business,
i.e. with your event promotion/organization, database development,
This involves everyone in your organization.