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    Donation Matching Software

    Diversion Potential:
    150K Tons

    Economic Value Per Ton:

    GHGs Reduced:
    555K Tons

    Meals Recovered:
    250M Meals


    Using technology platforms to connect individual food donors with recipient organizations to reach smaller-scale food donations


    Donation matching software provides dynamic, real-time information about food available for donation to enhance the operational efficiency of food recovery partnerships between nonprofits and businesses with smaller-volume batches of edible food, such as cafes, restaurants, hotels, and other foodservice settings.

    Smaller donations (under 50 pounds) are expensive for food recovery organizations to pick up, leading many to set minimum amounts for donation. Online donation matching software enables local food recovery agencies to identify multiple small pickups at once and design efficient routes to recover food that otherwise would go to waste.

    These apps are most effective when they include mechanisms for arranging and covering transportation, which removes a major cost barrier. Some smartphone apps coordinate volunteers for real-time food pickups and distribution.

    It is assumed, like other real-time software platforms, many apps and software systems will be developed and piloted, and a handful of the best ones will scale nationwide. Several food recovery organizations that are in the early development of apps are assessing opportunities to share a white-labeled version of their product that food recovery organizations can rebrand as their own.


    • Food recovery organizations that have traditionally worked with donors that provide relatively reliable and consistent donations may need to adjust operations to accommodate unpredictable food donation types and volumes from new donors.
    • Business employees must be trained to use the new technology platform to notify recovery agencies of available food donations, and food recovery organization staff must be familiar with the tool to identify food donation “matches” and plan pick-up routes.
    • Businesses and recovery agencies must ensure proper cold chain management to safely store, handle, and transport perishable foods
    • The cost of transportation is often a significant barrier to donation, particularly for smaller and more geographically dispersed donations.

    Stakeholder Actions

    • Nonprofit support is needed to train and educate all organizations to begin adopting a new technology.
    • Impact investors are needed to fund the upfront cost of the technology platforms and mentor startups and social entrepreneurs to develop sustainable software business models.
    • Businesses can collaborate with IT product developers to address specific food recovery obstacles. For example, small-volume foodservice donations are plagued by limited labor to handle food and transportation constraints, and also create logistical hurdles for food recovery networks that must track, inventory, and distribute these donations on relatively short notice.
    • Food recovery organizations can also collectively engage with funders, developers, and businesses to understand where a donation technology platform could interface with other infrastructural resources needed to physically collect, store, and distribute food.

    Examples & Resources

    • Feeding America secured a $1.6 million grant from Google’s nonprofit arm to create its Online Marketplace program and support development and training efforts among Feeding America-affiliated entities. The Online Marketplace overcomes logistical constraints by allowing businesses to quickly and efficiently document food donations.

    • Several nonprofit and for-profit companies that have launched donation matching software platforms over the past few years include Spoiler Alert, Zero Percent, Copia (formerly Feeding Forward), Community Plates, and Food Cowboy.

    Related Solutions

    Top Rated Solution:
    Most Jobs Created

    Donation Storage & Handling

    Expanding temperature-controlled food distribution infrastructure (e.g. refrigeration, warehouses) and labor availability to handle (e.g. process, package) additional food donation volume

    $2366 /ton
    in financial benefit

    103 K tons/yr
    in diversion potential

    172 M meals/yr
    meals recovered

    381 K tons/yr
    in GHG reduction

    50 B gal/yr
    in water conservation

    jobs created

    Learn How >

    Donation Transportation

    Providing small-scale transportation infrastructure for local recovery as well as long-haul transport capabilities

    $2294 /ton
    in financial benefit

    110 K tons/yr
    in diversion potential

    183 M meals/yr
    meals recovered

    407 K tons/yr
    in GHG reduction

    53 B gal/yr
    in water conservation

    jobs created

    Learn How >
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