Two articles made their way around social media last week that left me feeling pretty good about the mission and timing of FarmRaiser.
First was the Texas PTA fundraiser that went viral on Facebook because it struck a nerve with parents everywhere. Its message: We hate school fundraising, but we want to help our school.
FarmRaiser exists to solve the problems highlighted in that PTA flyer:
- We always offer a cash donation option for supporters who don’t want to try local products.
- We make student participation optional—our email and Facebook campaigns rock!
- We leave 85+% of the proceeds from every sale in the community—FarmRaisers are fundamentally about building healthy, economically vibrant communities.
- We engage students as advocates for eating healthy and supporting their local economy. The farm-to-school movement, the Let’s Move program, and many other education and health initiatives provide classroom tie-ins to our campaigns that make fundraising a learning opportunity instead of a distraction.
The second article was a decidedly less cynical piece from The Pew Charitable Trusts that discussed the virtues of making fundraising a healthy endeavor. I loved the resources (and potential FarmRaiser Partners) they listed to help make annual fundraising traditions more meaningful, healthy activities.
As we’ve built FarmRaiser over the last two years from an idea to a fully operating platform and fundraising business, evidence for our theory-of-change–that schools will engage parents and community members in a fundamentally different way if given a viable (and profitable) alternative–increases with every new campaign that adopts the platform.
At FarmRaiser, reinventing school fundraising starts with the products we offer, but goes much farther. We help give schools a voice and role in the move towards sustainable agriculture and the creation of local food systems—among the most significant social movements of 21st Century.
Schools are in a great position to lead on this issue. By taking our Healthy Fundraising Challenge and promoting FarmRaiser campaigns to the many groups raising money for educational activities, schools are giving added purpose to potentially tens of thousands of students. These young advocates, when armed with the right knowledge (and some great local products), can affect what food their parents buy and where they buy it while raising critically important funds for their schools and causes.
For example, when an elementary school in a small Idaho city held a 10 day fundraiser that sold $15,000 worth of locally grown apples and root vegetables, they moved much closer to the elusive sustainable fundraiser. Students had aggregated financial capital—for the school and the local farmers—in a way that endeared the school and the kids to the community. This same school kicks off their next campaign in a few weeks and is promising to beat last fall’s sales–a new, lasting tradition well on its way.