NFI, SeaShare carve out new ways to donate seafood in 2017
The longstanding partnership between SeaShare, a non-profit dedicated to delivering nutrient-rich seafood proteins to food banks across the United States, and the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) has generated a lot of success over the years.
With the latest group of seafood industry professionals comprising NFI’s 2016 Future Leaders Program, all evidence suggests that 2017 will serve as a continuation of this trend, according to SeaShare’s Executive Director Jim Harmon.
To kick off the new year, the newest graduates of NFI’s Future Leaders Program – which sees promising professionals within the industry traversing the country to explore the ins and outs of American seafood – traveled to the San Francisco Marin Food Bank, a 10-year key partner to SeaShare, on behalf of non-profit on 16 January to volunteer packing food to be distributed in the name of hunger relief. The excursion, which coincides with NFI’s annual Global Seafood Market Conference (running this year from 16 to 19 January in San Francisco, California), represents just one of a myriad of ways the industry will give back to SeaShare in the new year.
“SeaShare continues to receive generous support across the country,” Harmon told SeafoodSource. “Our donation projects now include more species, product forms and package sizes – which helps us in a number of ways. Variety helps us feed more people in different regions of the country. It also minimizes the impact of a decrease in any one fishery or market sector. So we are always working to increase our network.”
One particular network the non-profit is looking to tap into this year is aquaculture, according to Harmon. “Donations from aquaculture are growing, but they still represent less than 10 percent of our annual volume. SeaShare will focus more effort on growing that part of our donor base in 2017,” he said.
Thanks to the 2016 Future Leaders, SeaShare will also be growing its donation network over the internet. As part of the NFI Future Leaders experience, each class is tasked with a group project – this year, as with several years before it, the class project for the program involved upping donations for SeaShare, and bringing more awareness to seafood and the role it plays in stamping out hunger. As a means to appeal to modern consumer and associate sensibilities, which are increasingly digitized, members of the Future Leaders class created a video, now embedded on SeaShare’s website, that details the extent of protein scarcity in food banks around the country.
Since the video, “Share the Plate,” was first posted in October, 80 online donations had been received through December, totaling USD 18,725.50 (EUR 17,552.52), confirmed the video’s main creative driver, Steven Yeomans of King and Prince Seafood.
“The project was born from a challenge,” Yeomans explained. “Michael Alexander, President and CEO of King and Prince Seafood, said he would like to see the project consist of something other than donating product. I just took that and ran it with it. King and Prince Seafood offered the assistance of their marketing agency, and also offered to underwrite the project. From there, it was just a matter of an idea, and how to motivate other companies in participating.”
“With the consistent growth of technology in our industry, along with the internet, a video just made the most sense. Hammering out the idea, filming, editing, all that took about a month. The next step was to get our NFI affiliates to sponsor. We offered a promotional spot in the video for any company willing to donate to the video (we in turn took the donation and sent 100 percent of it to SeaShare),” Yeomans said.
SeaShare proved “incredible to work with,” allowing the Future Leaders class a considerable amount of creative freedom, said Yeomans.
Such a project offers SeaShare a longevity that’s increasingly more necessary to succeed in today’s business world. Since it was first posted, the video has seen over 500 views, not including the pageviews it’s received from being embedded on Future Leaders’ members’ company pages.
“I think that says a lot about the strength of this kind of marketing. My favorite part of this is that we have made it self-sustaining. This video can go on to help SeaShare for years to come,” said Yeomans.
Moving forward, Yeomans encouraged the next group of Future Leaders to pick off where his group left off.
“The next step, is for the next group of future leaders to take it a step further. How can awareness be raised to the seafood industry as whole? What steps can they take to solve other industry issues? There is a whole lot of opportunity out there,” Yeomans concluded.
Harmon shared a similar encouraging sentiment, noting that the organization accepts generosity of all kinds.
“Everyone has something to give. SeaShare worked with over 150 companies last year. They provided seafood, processing and other services, packaging, freight, and financial support. Everyone should find out what their company’s giving program includes. If you are in the seafood industry, I think it makes sense that your philanthropy incorporates seafood. SeaShare can use whatever your company is best at giving,” said Harmon.