Famine Food Truck as a Model for Effective Leafleting Practices


WASHINGTON, D.C. — In May 2017, the nonprofit Oxfam ran a leafleting campaign called the Famine Food Truck that drove around D.C. distributing information about the dangers Trump’s 2018 proposed budget poses to those facing hunger and poverty across the globe.

There are currently major food crises in Somalia, Nigeria, Yemen and South Sudan. While Congress approved an extra $990 million for famine relief in May 2017, much more is needed to fully address the problem. Information distributed by the Famine Food Truck asks readers to contact their leaders and ask them to fund the International Affairs Budget fully.

In addition to presenting information in an ironic and interesting manner, the Famine Food truck gives passersby an easy opportunity to take direct action on the issue. The truck lists a number people can text to receive a link to a site that provides an email template they can easily fill out with their name and zip code and send to their representatives.

Effective leafleting practices can be paramount for nonprofits and activists hoping to raise awareness and fundraise. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, location is important to successful leafleting. An example from its website tells the story of a circus goer who was dissuaded from attending the circus once he received a flyer at the gate containing information about the cruelty circus animals undergo.

While this is a dramatic strategy that might not be as effective for nonprofits looking to raise awareness about global poverty, the food truck as a center for information is an effective location because passersby could easily become interested in and approach what they think is a food truck without knowing about the kind of information they would receive beforehand.

According to research by the Direct Marketing Association, more people read, hold onto and take action based on leaflets than what might be expected. Seventy-nine percent of leaflet recipients “either keep, pass on to a friend, or glance over the contents of a leaflet,” while 38 percent of flyers are kept for at least a few days and 13 percent for more than a week. Because leaflets present information so directly, it’s hard for recipients to avoid at least glancing at them. However, it is important to note that these numbers refer to fliers that are received through the mail, so statistics might be different for leaflets handed out on the street.

In her book “Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits: Real-World Strategies that Work,” Ilona Bray points out that meeting an enthusiastic volunteer for a cause in person itself can spark interest in a cause as people are used to tuning out emails and phone calls that attempt to raise awareness or ask for money. Bray also claims that nonprofits can frame effective leafleting practices around local issues, as passersby are more likely to contribute to a cause or take action on an issue if it relates to them or their community.

Out of all this information about effective leafleting practices, a common thread emerges. It is important to generate a sense of immediacy when leafleting. Whether by allowing people to take direct action by texting a number or explaining how supporting an issue could help their community, leaflet users need to make people feel as if they can play a role in solving global problems like hunger or poverty if they are to effectively communicate.

Caroline Meyers
Photo: Flickr


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