Food Bank Stays on Mission by Reworking Strategy
When St. Paul Lutheran Church in Lakeland, Florida realized their current brick-and-mortar food bank wasn’t fulfilling their church’s mission of serving the community, they relied on FiveTwo coaching and courseware to re-envision their strategy.
“Grocery chains are not storing a lot of boxed and canned goods anymore,” explains Pastor Andy Ritchie from his church’s office. “But there is an abundance of fresh food available.”
To continue fulfilling their mission of providing nourishing food to the surrounding community, the group had to shift their strategy completely.
Here are five ways Ritchie’s team found clarity through the FiveTwo Business Canvas.
5 Steps For Pivoting Strategy While Maintaining Mission
1. Clarify Your Vision
Since the church was already serving the community with a brick and mortar food back the team certainly had experience building and running a valuable ministry. But with the change in food availability, it was time to rethink its success in the current climate.
It was time to go back to the drawing board and start with Step One of FiveTwo’s Business Canvas, which is BUILD. To continue fulfilling its mission, the church needed to essentially BUILD a new venture.
FIND YOUR TEAM
To build your venture, you must begin with the right team. At FiveTwo, the steps we encourage leaders to walk through include:
- Pray for discernment
- Recruit leaders of integrity
- Invite them into your “why”
And then we recommend leaders ask a few questions.
- Is this someone I enjoy spending time with?
- Do we share a passion for this cause?
- Do the actions match beliefs?
As you select your team, remember that integrity is non-negotiable. Every member represents your organization, your mission, and the Kingdom. Do not overlook gaps in this area.
2. Equip Your Strategy
With your team in place, it’s time to define the details of your strategy.
In our work with churches, Christian entrepreneurs, and leaders, we have found that investing time to work through the “why” of your venture will give you a substantial return.
In Ritchie’s case, they knew their “why” and had been fulfilling it with service to the community through their food bank. The challenge was establishing a new strategy for their new reality.
Through the FiveTwo Business Canvas, the team considered the walls that needed scaling to fulfill their mission:
- Finding products to provide food to locals in need
- Keeping food fresh
- Getting perishable food to individuals promptly
These barriers didn’t stop them, rather they informed their strategy and drove them to their best solution.
- Nourishing food was available, though it was in the form of fresh goods.
- If the team could get the food to the customers quickly, keeping it fresh would not be an obstacle.
The team began to envision a mobile food delivery service. Was it possible?
Similarly, while you consider the values that drive you, consider the barriers that must be overcome for your venture to succeed. Don’t let those obstacles keep you from following your dreams; we’ve encountered roadblocks on every journey we’ve taken with an entrepreneur.
When you know why you’re doing something, you’ll have the clarity and motivation to overcome obstacles and create a vision and strategy for your mission.
In our experience with leaders and churches, teams who aren’t afraid of getting specific with their “why” tend to hit their target.
3. Know Your Customer
Ritchie and his team had been serving Lakeland neighborhoods and had a good sense of the people they were serving — in other words, they knew their customers.
- They knew people needed the food that was supplied through their bank, but the supply was difficult to come by.
- Fresh goods were an option, but it would be a hardship to keep the food fresh.
- Could they somehow bring the food to the people?
It may sound overly simplistic to encourage you to know your customer, but this is at the core of what we need to do before moving forward.
At FiveTwo we reiterate to our students — if your product is for everyone, then it is for no one. When starting a faith-based venture, ministry, or nonprofit, you must become familiar with your customer.
Since Ritchie and his team were familiar with their customer, solutions came rather quickly.
4. Establish your value proposition.
A value proposition is a value you promise to deliver to your marketplace. Start with this fundamental question — what problem will your venture solve for the target community?
In Ritchie’s case, the problem was supplying the community with food in a timely fashion. As a result, their venture was built to meet that need.
Their mission, passion, and customer need lead them to their chosen solution:
To launch a mobile food bank called Moving Hope.
The strategy is taking perishable produce, meats, and dairy products directly from the food source to impoverished neighborhoods. This plan saves money and helps people who may not have transportation.
Others have seen Moving Hope’s Value, too. The team has already built several key relationships with local churches in the neighborhoods where they plan to deliver food. “They’ve helped us find the right times to transport food to their communities each week and what kinds of food the individuals and families want.”
5. Create your pitch.
As part of the FUND step of the FiveTwo’s coaching, teams are taught how to craft their pitch.
This pitch, sometimes referred to as an elevator speech or elevator pitch, is a short presentation that will help you find people to join your cause or contribute to your work. Essentially, your pitch will tell people why they should follow you. The best pitches will build trust, share information, and inspire. It will grab both the head and the heart of your audience.
Ritchie’s team wrote their pitch and it paid off in a big way.
“I guess it was our team’s first three-day training event with FiveTwo coaches that we had to write our elevator speech,” remembers Pastor Andy. “And then about nine months ago, a guy asked me ‘How’s the whole food pantry going?’ I went through that elevator pitch and he said, ‘Well, I want to buy you a truck.’”
Through that elevator pitch, God provided the most crucial part of Moving Hope’s ministry that they needed to go mobile — a diesel truck.
Ritchie’s team displayed keen business sense when they realized their strategy needed to pivot to meet their mission.
With the help of FiveTwo coaching and courseware, the team is fulfilling its mission and widening its impact.