Case Study: Calgary Meals on Wheels Takes Campaign Online

Lori Halley 26 September 2008 1 comments

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 volunteers.

We are a vital and unique service because:

  1. We prepare the nutritious tasty meals in our own kitchen
  2. We are able to accommodate special dietary needs (e.g. diabetic, celiac, renal)
  3. Our volunteers provide daily door-to-door delivery of the meals
  4. Our clients pay on a sliding scale according to their means
  5. 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?

Having 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?

Just 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?

The 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 maintain it.

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, newsletters, etc.
    This involves everyone in your organization.

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Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Friday, 26 September 2008 at 6:53 AM

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