For Immediate Release Contact: Japhet Koteen 206-326-9828
(Seattle, WA) – Say goodbye to candy and wrapping paper and hello to farm-fresh produce baskets and locally-made products. A cross between a farmers market, a crowd-funding site, and a community organizing platform, FarmRaiser just closed its seed-funding round of $385,000 and is launching in the Puget Sound region with a $250 bonus for schools that schedule campaigns this fall. The bonus will be automatically applied to campaigns for the 2015/2016 school year that are scheduled on the platform between now and October 31, 2015.
Lead investor, Jim Epstein, founder of a DC-based investment firm and a longtime member of the Social Venture Network noted that school systems, both public and private, are ready for FarmRaiser, “Teachers, parents and students recognize the duplicity of teaching and learning about sustainability and making healthy choices then turning around and asking them to sell junk food and candy to raise funds for the school. FarmRaiser changes the whole dynamic by doing well for the school and doing good for the community all the while providing valuable learning opportunities for everyone.”
In addition to the seed investments, FarmRaiser has received program-related investments through The Seattle Foundation to support the Pacific Northwest expansion.
The money raised in this round will allow FarmRaiser to expand in the Seattle and Washington DC-area markets, and improve their technology platform to make it even easier for schools and non-profits to raise money by selling healthy local food.
In the United States, traditional school product fundraisers generate over $4 billion in annual sales, with top sellers being candy bars, tubs of cookie dough, and coupon books. However, only a fraction of that amount actually goes to the schools and communities. The rest goes to the fundraising corporation, incentives, and out-of-state or overseas, manufacturers. FarmRaiser aims to change that by connecting causes with local farmers and artisans so that over 85% of the sales will stay in the community, supporting healthy food producers and the local economy.
FarmRaiser works with local suppliers like Loki Fish Company, Macrina Bakery and Bow Hill Blueberries to make their products available on the FarmRaiser wholesale marketplace. Any qualified cause can select from local products to create an instant, custom online market for their fundraising campaign. Proceeds from the sale are split between the cause and the farmers and artisans supplying the campaign.
Students can sell using the mobile applications on smartphones or tablets, or online through their own personalized marketplace. The technology platform makes it easier for students to meet their personal fundraising targets. Lucy Voss, a FarmRaiser participant who sold over $2,400 of local goods in just three weeks, observed “You can tell someone about your fundraiser and just take out your phone and sell them something in two seconds,”
Last year in pilot campaigns in Seattle and Michigan, students sold over $100,000 in locally grown or made products, raising funds for over 40 local schools and school related groups. “As a parent, I just love what FarmRaiser’s done for my son and his school…he was so excited to help pack the blueberry preserves and make sure we bought some for our family…” Parent, Stevens Elementary
In each FarmRai$er® Campaign, four things happen,” says founder, Mark Abbott, “Local farmers and food artisans make sales and gain new customers, worthy causes raise money efficiently, campaign supporters get great products at reasonable prices and students learn to be advocates for eating healthy, locally sourced food.”
FarmRaiser connects farmers and food artisans to student-led fundraisers; turning energetic students into healthy-eating advocates who sell locally-grown and -made products to support their cause. Founded in Michigan, FarmRaiser has offices in Seattle, Washington, Traverse City Michigan and Alexandria, Virginia.