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February 10, 2014

Harry Chapin Food Bank | New Website Brings in the Dough for Starving Families in Southwest Florida

Author: Valerie Baker

Later on in life, when I am old and gray, I can honestly say that one memory I never want to lose is the experience of working with the team at the Harry Chapin Food Bank. The people there are of one heart and one mind with a focus solely on ending hunger and a willingness to work with others in a cooperative and energizing way. Their ethic and giving attitude are truly one-of-a-kind. That is only part of the reason they hold such a prominent position in the southwest Florida community non-profit sector.

The Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida began in 1983. During that time, the cooperative’s primary responsibility was to aid in the distribution of surplus of dairy products held by the federal government. The co-op then began recovering other food products through food drives and has focused on salvaging fresh, nutritious food from retailers and growers. The food bank grew in size and effectiveness, earning the reputation it deserves today as the #1 safety net for the hungry in Southwest Florida.

Website Capabilities that Increase Non-Profit Success

Harry Chapin Food Bank's Previous WebsiteThe Harry Chapin Food Bank’s problem was simple, but vitally important to the long term success of their mission. Simply put, they needed to raise more donation funds and increase their volunteer base. Though very visible in the community, it became clear that their financial donation base was aging and their volunteer base, while young and vibrant was only volunteering time, not money. They needed success raising funds online while continuing to build a wider group of volunteers. Based on multiple conversations with their development team, target research and our own experience in non-profit development, we provided the following solutions:

  • Fully Custom Website
  • Content Management System (Orchard)
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Email Marketing System Integration
  • Social Media Integration, Including Automatically Updating Photo Albums from Facebook
  • Simple, Online Donation portal options (one time and monthly) through PayPal

Atilus’ Online Web Development Tools Fit the Needs of the Harry Chapin Food Bank

The food bank already had a website, but it was not providing them with the bottom line success they need to stay competitive with their giving. One of the coolest stats about the Harry Chapin Food Bank is that they are able to turn $1 in donation money into $6 worth of food. Without a newly designed target strategy, this was in danger of falling. By focusing the site design on cleaner, family-oriented target and clearly identifying the steps we were looking for people to take when they gained a desire to help, Atilus was able to provide them with a homepage that brings the website visitor directly to the front lines of the food emergency. With an open site design, visitors can move freely from special feature to special feature, interacting with YouTube videos and important statistics while meeting face-to-face the hungry individuals and families of southwest Florida.

Harry Chapin Food Bank of SWFL

“We had been wanting to redesign our website for at least two years. It’s our “virtual face,” and it needed a facelift, though we hesitated plunging into a redesign project because of the costs involved and technical issues that organizations can encounter on such a project. We researched firms and were given Atilus’ name as a good company to work with. We are very pleased we chose Atilus. We knew what we wanted the site to look like and Atilus’ design team listened. When we encountered glitches, they worked to fix them. There were no surprises and no hidden costs. In the end, we knew what we were getting. We are very happy with the result.”

Miriam Pereira, Director of Development

Fighting Hunger through Creative Web Solutions

Another one of the absolute musts for a website with the size and scope of the Harry Chapin Food Bank was a complete Content Management System (CMS) that would allow for multiple users at multiple levels. In the never ending search to find a CMS tool that would work across many platforms, levels and needs and hold securely and safely, Atilus has become fans of Orchard, a Microsoft .Net tool. We are actively working with Orchard and adapting it to many of our clients’ needs. We are also developing a cross-platform connection for Orchard with Bootstrap’s front-end framework that will provide many future clients with significantly more robust systems at a much more reasonable cost. The convenience features offered by Orchard are only aided more-so with easy-to-use social media plugins that allow for photo albums to automatically uploaded from one place to another.

Atilus is committed to all of our websites before, during and after the construction process. With the site now live, our focus turns to bringing action-able visitors to the site. Being that Atilus is a Google Engage Partner, and the only web development firm in the entire southwest Florida region to hold that prestige,  we are working to help the food bank receive a grant from Google themselves so the food bank can gain even more traffic by utilizing a potentially free AdWords program for non-profits. Our hope is that Google will respond to this grant as they have others from us in the past and we can see the food bank helped by free ad-space directly from Google.

Google Analytics Data Provides Framework for Long-Term Online Growth

We were so excited to learn that the food bank’s ideas ended up so closely matched to ours – incorporating them from a shared vision made this project go so smoothly overall. Marketing though, especially at the beginning when data is not accessible can be a bit of a guessing game; usually a well thought through strategy can mitigate most of those guesses. Figuring out the strategy behind the subtle movements that lead a person to donate their hard-earned time and money to a website wasn’t easy. It took research, communication with a large team of individuals and time to gain an in-depth understanding. This, however, is just the starting point.

Now that the website is live, we are charged as a team to intently follow the data provided through website analytics so we can evaluate (both in the short and long term) website performance and make adjustments and find solutions where necessary. This makes the Harry Chapin Food Bank site a live project and live website, in that it will flow as time moves on so it can always be successfully doing its job in raising awareness and resources in the fight against hunger.

Harry Chapin Food Bank of SWFLWhether it is the website development itself or marketing solutions that bring visitors to the site, it is vital to have a holistic view of the project and see things 1,2 and 5 years down the road to make sure all efforts from all people on all teams are efficient and successful. We are fully confident the Harry Chapin Food Bank website is prepared to meet the needs of our client and lead them to success down the road. Atilus is thankful and excited to continue on the journey with them as this reality gets fleshed out. For more information on the Harry Chapin Food Bank and see about getting involved yourself in the fight to end hunger, visit

Valerie Baker

Valerie is the Senior Account Manager & Project Manager here at Atilus.

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