The San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, for instance, says it needs to raise 37% of its annual budget between now and the end of December, and as of right now some of the fundraising channels it relies on for that are lagging, said spokeswoman Pamela Wellner.
At Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, the holiday giving campaign typically covers about half of the annual operating budget — but that can be particularly stressful and "nerve-wracking," said spokeswoman Diane Baker Hayward. Even though most contributions come at the end of the year, the food bank is dependent on year-round resources to accommodate its clientele, she noted.
Right now, she said, donations are about $100,000 behind where they were at this point last year.
For the Alameda County Community Food Bank, these next few weeks "are as critical as I've experienced in my time here," said Michael Altfest, its community engagement director. The food bank needs to raise $4.9 million by the end of the year, and entered November $230,000 already short of its goal for the previous quarter, he said.
But, Altfest added, the pace is starting to pick up and the last few weeks have been encouraging.
"We all have our noses to the grindstone making sure we emerge from the holidays with the resources we need," he said.
Bay Area food banks have been squeezed in recent years by a combination of factors: Local donors are more often choosing to give to fire relief funds after the spate of fires across Northern California, and food banks are experiencing increased demand, as housing prices and homelessness continue to rise.
Last quarter, Second Harvest served 10,000 people more than the same quarter in the previous year, with food distribution up by 17%, Hayward said. And during the recent power shutoffs, scores of people whose food spoiled without refrigeration were forced to turn to food banks for assistance. The San Francisco-Marin Food Bank said they distributed about 10,000 pounds of non-perishable food to evacuees and community resource centers during the four days around the Kincade Fire. The food bank also plans to work with PG&E to supply its community resource centers during future power shutoffs.
The other possible challenge, said Altfest, is the new federal tax law that went into effect last year and changed deduction rates for charitable contributions.
"While we knew at the time it passed that the change in standard deductions would have an effect, this last tax year was the first year people saw how it affected their taxes," he said, which may be affecting how much they're donating.