Supporting The Greater Chicago Food Depository

Brief description of the project 

Virtual Food Drive

We chose to support a local food depository with a virtual food drive due to the severity of the recent COVID outbreak. We wanted to address the issue of hunger since ancillary charity gifts could be more challenging to collect during times of insecurity. Because of the pandemic risk potentials, we felt safest in espousing online collections with no expectations of physical donations or in-person fundraising. Social media channels were heavily utilized to advertise this initiative, as well as tapping into the team’s network of associates to garner full attention and contribution possibilities.


Brief description of the charity

The Greater Chicago Food Depository

The Greater Chicago Food Depository was selected due to their assiduous commitment in helping the local needy and their long-time inception, helping the Chicagoland area since 1978. The GCFD is a well-known and respected organization, acting as a control hub for over 700 other food pantries. Millions of people donate to the pantry each year, in 2019 alone they collected over $160M, an astonishing amount of donations and indicative of their strong presence and stalwart donors. The GCFD is also actively pursuing future battles against hunger through initiates like Project Nourish, a plan which expands their cold storage areas and creates additional volunteering spaces.


Factual analysis of success in terms of project objectives 

Success Metrics

We looked at funds raised and awareness generated as two measures of success. We used social media “likes”  as a proxy for awareness. We achieved our minimum fundraising goal, but fell short of our awareness target.

Total Dollars received: $1,383.54

  • Minimum amount of online donations – $500
  • Expected amount of online donations – $2,000
  • Maximum amount of online donations – $5,000

Social Medial shares/likes/views: 48 likes

  • Minimum – 50
  • Expected – 150
  • Maximum – 500


Two or three lessons learned about managing projects 

Communication is tough. Especially with virtual teams and no in-person engagement.

Effective communication turned out to be a pretty significant challenge with this project. Setting up group calls, sending emails, and posting shared documents were all done with relative ease. However, the true exchange of information was a bit more of a challenge. Internal group calls often ended up with limited exchanges of opinions or ideas. External communication attempts were less successful than imagined, with the target charity not responding to inquiries and request for donations receiving a lower than expected response.


The WBS can be a great tool. However, a tool is useful if it is used properly.

The WBS helps outline a project and can be used to assign work. However, it is only able to assign work that has been identified. While we developed a WBS at the beginning of the project, by the end of the project it became clear that many items were never really identified or assigned. Implementing the results of the risk plan would have helped the team take actions to be achieve our goal. Regular review would have helped us to understand project status and missing areas. More input from all team members at the onset would have potentially helped identified missing areas, clarify roles and responsibilities, and ultimately helps us hit our goal.


Advice for future teams doing similar projects 

Effective group communication is key.

For a project to succeed to it is greatest potential, it needs to be a collaborative effort. Virtual teams make this difficult, as the energy and engagement from an in-person experience encourage active participation and engagement more than video calls. Discussing ways at the start of the project to ensure everyone shares their opinion and is an active participant as well as making sure there is plan for making sure those who cannot participate are still involved would help with this. Similarly, making the WBS a large group discussion with a virtual whiteboard to would help people better find their true roles in the project, giving them platform to speak from in further discussions.


Project Photos 

Landing Page for our Virtual Food Drive

Virtual Food Drive Results! (We had a few more donations after this was taken)