GOOD

A Healthy Improvement to School Fundraisers

Sick of the ubiquitous wrapping paper and junk food products young students hawk to benefit their schools? Try FarmRaiser’s fresh approach.

Remember school fundraisers? Once or twice a year, students will hand their parents glossy catalogs full of magazine subscription offers, cookie dough, or those obscure housewares found in Miles Kimball mailings. Actually sweet-talking coworkers and relatives into buying something was an art unto itself.


Mark Abbott’s son once sold hundreds of dollars in food for a fundraiser, but all of the products were essentially junk. “There was nothing healthy to choose from, and, of course, nothing local,” Abbott says of the food selection.

Thinking local prompted Abbott to speak with apple farmers in his area about teaming up to do something better with school campaigns. These conversations served as the impetus for FarmRaiser, a new kind of funding platform that links schools’ efforts to raise money with quality products from area vendors.

The need to raise cash is commonplace in education, and most of product fundraising’s billions in sales benefit school-related organizations. It isn’t a new concept either, as more than half of K-12 students also had a “parent or other household member” participate in some form of fundraising, according to 2011-12 data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

With FarmRaiser, students have three ways to raise support for their drive. The first is regular product sales. Instead of hawking wrapping paper or processed products, think apples, fair trade coffee, and even pasta. “Community basket” is a second option, where instead of obtaining items for themselves, purchasers can redirect their orders to designated shelters or food banks. Lastly, buyers can opt for a cash donation, 90 percent of which goes straight back to the schools.

Schools can set up a page through the FarmRaiser site, where family and friends are able to purchase products to benefit the school. A paper catalog is also available for those who prefer it. After overhead and FarmRaiser’s 10-percent fee are deducted, schools keep what’s left. Combined with cash donations, Abbott says some schools have netted more than 60 percent of the total campaign money raised.

The company—which currently operates in Michigan and the Seattle area—starts by sourcing a purposefully small list of items, all produced less than 25 miles away from the school site, aiming to keep 90 percent of fundraiser revenue in the local community.

Abbott says the local-centric approach has had broad appeal from “very rural small schools raising money for the middle school cross-country team to relatively wealthy, private Catholic schools sending their kids to Washington, D.C., for the eighth-grade trip.”

What about FarmRaiser resonates with fundraising groups? Abbott says it’s the value alignment between FarmRaiser and the parents and administrators at participating schools. “We’ve been embraced in this initial, limited number of campaigns that we ran by just about every other group you could imagine,” he says.

In 2014, FarmRaiser had a goal of completing 50 campaigns as a proof of concept that could help them understand key metrics behind their business model. Abbott says the company is well on its way to exceeding that goal and now has its sights set on 500 campaigns in three locations—the existing two as well as a third in the Washington, D.C. area. He also alluded to possible expansion in Chicago and New York, and is interested in Austin, Dallas, and Houston.

Abbott admits that in any fundraising effort, no matter how unnecessary or expensive the products may be, students will find buyers. But at least FarmRaiser not only gives a financial boost to schools, but also shows support for local businesses.

“If you’re going to make that effort and spend social capital that you’ve developed at this school,” Abbott says, “why don’t you give them something they can really feel good about?”

Articles

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
NHM Vienna/Hans Reschreiter

Wealth inequality has been a hot topic of discussion as of late, but it's something that's occurred all throughout history. Class structure is a complicated issue, especially when you consider that haves and have nots have been in existence for over 4,000 years.

A study published in Science took a look at over 100 late Neolithic and early Bronze Age skeletons found in a burial site in southern Germany. The study "shed light on the complexity of social status, inheritance rules, and mobility during the Bronze Age." Partly by looking at their teeth and the artifacts they were buried with, researchers were able to discover that wealth inequality existed almost 4,000 years ago. "Our results reveal that individual households lasting several generations consisted of a high-status core family and unrelated low-status individuals, a social organization accompanied by patrilocality and female exogamy, and the stability of this system over 700 years," the study said.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Truthout.org / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics

When former Pittsburgh Steelers' center Mike Webster committed suicide in 2002, his death began to raise awareness of the brain damage experienced by NFL football players. A 2017 study found that 99% of deceased NFL players had a degenerative brain disease known as CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Only one out of 111 former football players had no sign of CTE. It turns out, some of the risks of traumatic brain injury experienced by heavily padded adults playing at a professional level also exist for kids with developing brains playing at a recreational level. The dangers might not be as intense as what the adults go through, but it can have some major life-long consequences.

A new PSA put out by the Concussion Legacy Foundation raises awareness of the dangers of tackle football on developing brains, comparing it to smoking. "Tackle football is like smoking. The younger I start, the longer I am exposed to danger. You wouldn't let me smoke. When should I start tackling?" a child's voice can be heard saying in the PSA as a mother lights up a cigarette for her young son.

Keep Reading Show less
via ICE / Flickr

The Connors family, two coupes from the United Kingdom, one with a three-month old baby and the other with twin two-year-olds, were on vacation in Canada when the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) turned their holiday into a 12-plus day-long nightmare.

On October 3, the family was driving near the U.S.-Canada border in British Columbia when an animal veered into the road, forcing them to make an unexpected detour.

The family accidentally crossed into the United States where they were detained by ICE officials in what would become "the scariest experience of our lives," according to a complaint filed with the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security.

Keep Reading Show less
Travel