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5 ways food banks are incorporating DEI into their creative

Over the last few years, many food banks have made a conscious effort to adopt more inclusive messaging and creative into not only their day-to-day practices but also their fundraising materials.

As fundraisers, inclusivity is important because it helps address any unconscious bias, avoids ”otherizing” and better aligns with our beliefs and values.  

Tonie Howard, our food bank team lead, does a great job diving into why DEI principles are important for food banks. Today, I’m going to focus on how you can implement those principles into your creative messaging by sharing a few examples we’re currently testing in the market. 

It's important to note that examples are focused on food banks, but the same concepts can be applied to many different sectors in the nonprofit industry.  

Staying out of judgement  

Not everyone shares the same perspective as you, so it’s important to avoid jumping to conclusions about what people are going through. In Food Bank of the Rockies’ Root Out Hunger campaign, they do an excellent job of staying out of judgement of those experiencing food insecurity in the first few paragraphs of their appeal below.

Food Bank of the Rockies DEI appeal

Common ground building 

We’re all vulnerable to things out of our control—like hunger. The reality is, any one of us could find ourselves in the same situation as Helen in Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin’s appeal below. By explaining the rapidly rising cost of living and the tough decisions it’s causing Helen to make, the donor is put into her shoes.  

Second Harvest DEI appeal

Belonging and community building 

Another essential part of DEI is giving dignity to all members of the community you serve. In their award-winning Woman to Woman campaign, Food Bank For New York City sheds light on gender inequality and how poverty impacts women, girls, transgender, genderqueer, non-binary and gender nonconforming individuals who need access to food, menstrual care products and other resources they need to live. 

FBNYC DEI Example 2The same can be said for this digital matching gift campaign from Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. In an effort to create an inclusive presence so that all communities feel represented and welcomed, this campaign was inclusive of the LGBTQ community by featuring a family with two dads.


Not defining someone by their situation 

Food insecurity doesn’t define someone or reflect a flaw in them as a person. Instead, it’s a circumstance that they’re currently going through. In this food bank copy, we see how avoid defining someone by their circumstance by using terms like “neighbors facing hunger.”

DEI Example 1 

Finally, I want to acknowledge that this isn’t an easy shift for some. But it’s a critical one. Incorporating inclusive language is taking a stand and sharing your values as a food bank. The key throughout it all is to keep an open mind, respect the feelings of others and stay consistent. 

If you’re looking for more examples, I recently hosted a webinar on inclusive and effective messaging that shared a few additional insights and ways to incorporate this into your program. You can watch the recording below:  


Erin Albitz

Erin Albitz is a highly accomplished and talented creative professional with more than 15 years of experience in creating great fundraising work for nonprofit organizations. In her award-winning career, she has helped grow the revenue of nonprofit organizations both large and small, including American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, World Vision, Operation Smile, Mercy Ships, Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, Philadelphia Museum of Art, USO, Christian Appalachian Project and The American Legion, as well as many rescue missions and food banks. As Group Creative Director at RKD Group, Erin works in partnership with all teams—sharing best practices, efficiencies and new pathways to greater success for all clients.

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