The River Food Pantry is the largest and busiest food pantry in Dane County, serving 700 households each week with 30,000 pounds of food – plus other vital necessities and services.
(Madison, Wisconsin, USA) – The River Food Pantry (riverfoodpantry.org) distributes approximately 1.3 million pounds of food each year while assisting about 28,000 Dane County families.
The nonprofit, volunteer-driven, faith-based charity is also an exemplary model of high standards when it comes to the careful administration of donated funds. The River Pantry spends more than 97 cents of every dollar it receives, for example, toward food and other critical services.
(For more information on River Food Pantry, visit:
But during 2013 it will expand its programs even more, with organization help from local ActionCOACH Business Coach Susan Thomson.
Ms. Thomson is donating her expertise as part of the global “Coaching for a Cause” initiative, sponsored by ActionCOACH.
The campaign pairs Business Coaches with charities so that nonprofit organizations can learn innovative ways to operate more effectively and efficiently.
“As a nonprofit that has grown from $80,000 per year in 2006 to $550,000 a year in 2012, there are many organizational structures that need to be developed and implemented,” Czerkas says.
“Susan helped with providing the tools necessary for me to start documenting systems and creating scripts for clients, volunteers, and donors. She has also helped with our efforts to hire staff and start building a team to lead The River. The team building is the biggest discovery for me, because beforehand I did not know much about how to develop and motivate staff.”
Czerkas and her husband founded The River in 2006. They both had business experience, but had never before built an organization from scratch. One challenge was to figure out how to run their charity on a day-to-day basis without Czerkas being on site for 70 or more hours each week.
But they’ve learned along the way, and the collaboration with Thomson has been valuable.
Now the River Pantry has detailed task lists for volunteers, for example, plus documentation on how to train new volunteers. Soon the organization also plans to launch a life skills training program, too, and small businesses are lining up to be ready to hire those who graduate from the program.
“Having new systems in place has reduced the stress, increased productivity, and made the experience much more pleasurable for everyone involved,” Czerkas says. “Nonprofit work can be demanding,” she acknowledges. “But the reward of helping families stay afloat is priceless.”
For more information on ActionCOACH Susan Thomson, visit: