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The United States of America is without doubt the world’s beacon of hope during times of distress. For many years, people have talked about living the American dream; a life that is so pure, so free and so good; and yet it still remains but a pipe dream. In fact, many people are still not thinking beyond the day today. This is because of the daily struggles, grinding poverty and biting hunger pangs that have become part and parcel of their daily lives. For these people living the American dream is some kind of fantasy; a fallacy or a creation of the mind by the one percent ‘filthy’ rich. And they are many, very many indeed. And who can blame them?
In the year 2010, there were about 50 million Americans living in food insecure homesteads. This translated to14.5% of the total U.S. households. The situation becomes worse when most of these households have children. Most of the households facing food insecurity are headed by single parents, black parents or exclusively Hispanic parents. Food insecurity is very much a reality in the United States and in every county. There are counties (such as Wilcox) where food insecurity was disturbingly high, standing at almost 40 percent. These statistics simply mean that many Americans face the possibility of starvation if intervention measures are not taken. Luckily for them and all Americans, there is ‘Feeding America’ (Feeding America)
Feeding America is the leading hunger relief charity organization in the country. This organization gives the low income as well as the food insecure American individuals and families food to survive. It ensures that more than 37 million Americans are fed all over the country annually. The organization has about 200 food banks that help tens of thousands of agencies address hunger and starvation in all forms. Without ‘Feeding America’ many people would have never lived another day. It ensures that the 40 million or so Americans live to see the next day, and get a chance to dream again. This paper analyses the organization’s micro and macro environments, strength, weakness, opportunity and threats and competitive advantage. It will do a Gap analysis, and make recommendations for the organization (Causes). Most of the analysis is done using information from the organization’s website.
A micro environment can be defined as key stakeholders with whom an organization is in close contact. These include suppliers, customers, competitors and distributors. The Feeding America organization depends on private donations for its activities. These are the main source of its income. Last year, it received about $ 1.15 billion in private donations (its total revenue was $1.19). Therefore, it can be said that private donors are its main suppliers (Forbes 2011). The donations are either in the form of money or foodstuffs. Its distributors are the localized 202 member food banks. When the organization receives a donation, it divides the same to the local food banks who are on the ground. These banks are the ones to give out the foodstuffs to the food insecure persons. Since this is not a business, it can be said that its customers are the people that need the food. These are precisely the people that need its services. Because similar charity organizations have the same mission of alleviating hunger, it will not be right to call them competitors (OU Press).
The macro environment entails factors that an organization has no direct control over but may affect the running of the organization. The factors may be political, economic, socio cultural or technological. Many charity organizations have been recognized for their exemplary work, and thus are largely unaffected by political decisions, Feeding America included. However, they are affected by economic factors. The USA has been going through economic hardships in the recent past. As a result, many people have been wary to spend, let alone donate. This reluctance means that the organization realizes lower revenues than when the economy is booming. Since the organization depends almost entirely on donations, this low income negatively impacts on its activities. In all societies and cultures, helping the needy is very much encouraged, even rewarded. This simply means that the organization can count on all sociocultural groups to donate. This offers it a large base of funding (Lancaster).
Feeding America’s main strength lies in the fact that it provides food for those that do not have it. Since everyone knows the importance of food and probably experienced the effects of hunger, many of them will be willing to donate to persons that are not in a position to access it. Failure to do so and many lives will be lost. Using the platform of possible death if there are no donations, the organization manages to convince very many people and institutions to contribute to its kitty.
The organization’s main weakness is that it has to rely on outside sources for funding. This means that if the donations are cut or not adequate, it cannot do anything other than cut its operations. Such an action translates to more people going hungry. As it has already been mentioned, if the economy is performing poorly less people will donate, and thus it will get low revenues. Its activities are negatively affected.
The organization’s main opportunity is that most people are ready to help. Many people would readily donate if they were in a position to, while others might volunteer to participate actively in the distribution for free. Since there is no cap on the amount that it can collect, the organization can get as much as possible. All these factors make the prospects for Feeding America bright.
The biggest threat to Feeding America, and indeed all charities, is the organization’s management and employees. Since they depend on donations, their integrity cannot be called into question. If there is a perceived misuse of funds or alleged misappropriation, people will withdraw their support. The organization has to ensure that it accounts for each and every penny that it receives. Failure to be transparent and the donations will be cut or the organization even closed.
Feeding America is the country’s biggest charity organization providing foodstuffs to the people that do not have access to them. This fact alone gives it a competitive advantage over similar organizations. As the biggest of such organizations, it thus can partner with many big financial institutions that will provide it with large amounts of donations. Additionally, most people like to work with big organizations. Therefore, many of them will most likely donate to Feeding America as compared to the other organizations. This can be reflected in the fact that it it is capable of feeding close to 40 million food insecure persons, year in, year out. For instance, some of its partners include Google, Bank of America, Unilever, Ameriprise Financial, Dean Foods and many others. Some of its more illustrious personality partners include Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Tyler Perry, One Republic and many more. Having such financiers and partners gives it a big advantage over similar organizations.
Feeding America is very accountable and very committed to its mission. Better Business Bureau (BBB) developed a standard for Charitable Accountability. In total, there were twenty categories in which all charity organizations are graded against. Feeding America met all the twenty thresholds, which underscores the accountability and commitment of the organization. Plaudits like these from very respectable organizations, such as BBB, make it very superior to its ‘competitors’. This enhances its position in the charity sector (BBB).
Gap analysis stems from two very crucial questions: Where is the company at the moment? Where does it wish to be? The difference in the answers forms the gap. Therefore, gap analysis involves an organization analyzing its current performance and how it deviates from the organization’s ideal performance. As it has been mentioned in the paper, there are close to 50 million individuals who are in the danger of sleeping hungry in any given day. As the country’s leading hunger-free charity organization, Feeding America should surely be having a goal of providing food to all these individuals. In fact, that should be the ultimate goal of the organization. However, the organization has yet to even feed more than 40 million. This simply means that there are about 10 million hunger-stricken individuals who do not receive food donations from Feeding America, or that there is a ‘gap’ of about 10 million that the organization has to fill. Therefore, for Feeding America to be the best and most effective hunger alleviating organization in the country, it has to find ways of feeding the additional 10 million. This will ensure that everyone has food on the table (Marketing Teacher).
As mentioned above, Feeding America has been lauded for being very accountable and commitment. In the Forbes report of the largest charity organizations, Feeding America was recorded to have a 97% charitable commitment. This is a very big complement for the organization. However, it should not be forgotten that this is not the best it can achieve. For it to be totally committed, the organization has to strive to reach 100 percent commitment level. This should be the ultimate goal for Feeding America. As it stands, there is a 3% ‘gap’ that has to be bridged. When this difference is closed, the organization would have reached a whole new level which would lead to even more donations. This would also translate to more hungry people being brought under its fold. The benefits will be mutual, with its mission being met.
What the Future Holds for Feeding America
The United States has been facing economic hardships over the recent years. This is clearly indicated by movements such as Occupy Wall Street. The unemployment rate reached a record high figure of about 9.8 percent in 2010. As of January 2012, this rate had fallen to 8.3%. This represents about 12.8 million people that have no work (BL Statistics 2012). However, the fact that one is employed does not mean that he/she is food secure. Therefore, it can be argued that although fewer Americans face food insecurity, the number still remains high, especially for a country such as the US. This simply means that the future does not look brighter for a large number of Americans than it is now. Most of them face the prospect of having no food. As a result, Feeding America faces a future where it will be needed most. The number of people requiring its services will not go down. In fact, with inflation being a reality of any economy, the number may actually increase. Feeding America should thus be prepared for a future where more donations will be needed than are currently available. The gap will probably widen from the current 10 million to a higher value.
Each year, about 10 million people do not receive food donations from Feeding America. By any standards, the number is disproportionately high, and these people are forced to go hungry. As the country’s biggest charity organization that offers food to such people, Feeding America has to reduce this number. It can do this by expanding its horizons. For instance, the organization has 202 food banks nationwide. To be able to cover the whole country, this number has to be increased. Having many food banks will ensure that each and every locality is covered, and hence many people are fed. Additionally, the local food banks can help by aggressively sourcing for donations. This will no doubt increase the organization’s revenues.
The organization only depends on private donors as its main source of funding. It does not receive any government funding. Since it provides extremely essential services, it should at least petition the government to give it some much-needed funds. This additional donation will not only increase its revenues but will also enable it reach very many people. This paper recognizes, though, that such a scenario may lead to similar requests from ‘competing’ organizations. However, the reactions of these should not be a deterrent. Feeding America is very essential for America’s own wellbeing.
Feeding America is playing a very important role in ensuring that the country is healthy. Providing food to more than 40 million people is a very good initiative. At least it ensures that some people live and survive long enough to experience the American dream. It also gives them a chance to look forward to another day. More importantly, it gives the children a chance to grow and fulfill their potential. All these simply underline its importance to America. However, the fact that there are still millions more that are not reached by the programme should give it a challenge; a challenge of ensuring that each and every American does not go hungry. In this ideal scenario, many people will at least have a chance of experiencing the American dream.