We can’t relieve hunger if we don’t first understand it. Link2Feed is a social purpose (for-profit) business that aims to ensure “everyone gets a meal”, by proving food banks with software solutions to more effectively manage operations and resources in order to increase their level of accountability and overall community impact. The core Link2Feed platform is a sophisticated data management software that streamlines and standardizes what can often be a complex intake process and allows food banks to report on client demographics and usage levels.
1. Community Background
We always say that Link2Feed was “built in a food bank” because every feature in the system has been defined by the food bankers who use our software every day. Link2Feed serves an international community of food banks who require technology to better understand their clients and provide their visitors with the resources they require (whether that’s food or referrals to other forms of support). Prior to adopting Link2Feed, many food banks were using antiquated and insecure forms of data collection (for example, binders with client information or recipe cards) and had to manually tabulate the data for monthly reports.
2. Development History
Link2Feed evolved out of a company called “Innivity Marketing Group” (Innivity). Launched in 2003, Innivity spent the better part of a decade working heavily in the public and not-for-profit sectors. As the agency of choice for a number of food banks, Innivity developed an intimate understanding of the operational complexities associated with the industry. This close working relationship, along with hundreds of hours of industry research, enabled Innivity to become a leading expert in food bank data analysis and distribution. After creating customized database systems for a two food bank clients, Innivity decided to develop a platform that could scale for the use of all food banks and Link2Feed was launched in late 2010. Under the umbrella of Innivity Marketing Group, Link2Feed started to work with a large number of food banks across Canada. In July 2013, Link2Feed secured a contract with the Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) to rollout the software to all members of their provincial organization. Link2Feed is now an official requirement of membership for the OAFB. Because of the significant social impact the software was having, the demand for the platform across Canada and the interest for the software arising out of The United States and United Kingdom, we decided to separate Link2Feed from its parent company. Link2Feed become a private entity as of December 24, 2013. Learn more about how we made the decisions to ensure “everyone gets a meal”.
3. Organization Structure
Link2Feed Inc. is a for-profit social-purpose business and Certified B Corporation. The Link2Feed team consists of full-time paid staff who manage technological innovation and software development, account management, marketing and customer support. Our staff are led by Rob Dawson (Founder and CEO) and Emily Branton (President).
Partnerships are crucial to our success, some key partnerships include:
- Our Clients– The users of our software define everything that we do. It is through their ongoing support and feedback that we have been able to support so many food banks around the world and offer technology that is revolutionizing the food bank industry.
- Rackspace-Working with Rackspace to host our international data has been a significant factor for growth and scale. Being powered by “fanatical support” ensures 100% up time, top-of-the-line security and a partner that believes in the work we do.
- BLab-Link2Feed is the only Certified B Corporation in the world providing software to food banks. The global leverage of BLab helps to position Link2Feed in the international market place and holds us to the highest standard of social impact.
Our company is primary funded by sales and capital investment from our ownership group.
6. Impacts & Outcomes Objectives
Our easy-to-use food bank management software reduces barriers, streamlines processes and improves distribution by combining technology with tenderness. Developed in partnership with food banks, Link2Feed provides the real-time reporting tools for you to make the decisions to ensure everyone gets a meal. With food banks across North America actively using the system, we are already seeing the impact Link2Feed is having on the level of accountability, accessibility, advocacy and collaboration in the food banking industry.
Inserting technology into an industry that uses more traditional practices is always a challenge and change is often scary for those who are involved. To ensure that we make the process of transitioning to Link2Feed easier, we provide a wealth of resources to our clients and a team who is fully dedicated to the work we do. Change is hard and often a slow process, but we’re committed to serving this industry, one link at a time.
8. Lessons Learned
Don’t be afraid to start a business that is both profitable and meaningful; the power of business can go a long way in solving the world’s biggest social problems. But don’t forget that social change is a long-term commitment. The most important thing is to have a solid long-term vision to align your team around. Then, it’s just a matter of working toward it every day and keeping track of all the small victories along the way. We recommend reading Mastering the Rockefeller Habits if you want help creating a solid plan to grow your social enterprise.
9. Vision for the Future
Hunger in developed nations is a hidden problem: most people can’t believe that in developed countries so many people are plagued with hunger. Link2Feed hopes to work with our partners around the world to create a metric surrounding hunger in developed nations and bring this problem to light. It is our hope that one day every food bank will use our software so we can have a complete picture of hunger around the world.