Co-Op Fundraising

We face the same challenge as any other business: raising the capital to get started.  With the Land Company in place the challenge is narrowed, but can still be considerable, particularly in areas with strong property values and strict zoning.  We may not be able to contain the farm, kitchen and store on the same property.  If we are able to obtain a property, the rent or mortgage can be a severe strain on the finances of the group.  One way or another, we have to raise capital.

Fundraising events are a practical solution.  Rent a hall, cook up some spaghetti and meatballs, sell tickets.  If enough tickets are sold, move ahead with the event.  I can't think of a better way to discuss the co-op plan than a dinner followed by a presentation.  These informal events can raise some funds.  A far more important purpose is to recruit members and customers.  

Crowdfunding offers potential.  With a group of hundreds of people, getting the word out becomes a campaign.  Kickstarter won't allow funds to be used for purchasing land, but I've seen crowdfunding projects for entire commercial kitchens.  There are other crowdfunding platforms.  Barnraiser comes to mind as being designed specifically for the needs of a cooperative farm.

The CSA model would serve the farm operation well and should be given serious attention.  A customer would by a share before the crops are even planted.  The group would raise the crops, harvest, and deliver a quantity of farm fresh produce weekly.  The co-op members could serve as customers in this regard, but this would be the same as an increase in the investment they have to come up with.  Still, some members of the group would have the wherewithall to purchase a CSA share.  

A Subscription is a means of preselling farm and kitchen products works in much the same way as a CSA.  Customers would choose what items they want, the amount, and when they want them.  The risk here is that a crop failure throws a wrench in the works.  With a CSA, the farm determines the products delivered.  With a subscription, the customer makes the call.  Some customers are more forgiving and understanding and will allow substitutions or make changes.  Others  are more determined.  There are Farm Subscriptions that will offer the customer a discount on volume: pay ahead for 500 pounds, get x% off.  I've seen $500 for 500 pounds of whatever the customer selects when they show up.  Putting customer service out in front sets subscription sales on the top of my list.  The Farm-Kitchen combination reduces the chance of overselling.  The customers can choose items from the kitchen: fresh baked bread, cookies and pies, perhaps some homemade tomato sauce.  It may be possible to presell items which are available through the Buyers Group.

Gift Certificates are a means of preselling product.  Some printing fees will be incurred and unsold certificates will need to be treated the same as cash.
These prepaid product marketing plans, when successfully implemented, could solve some serious funding issues.


Cooperative Enterprise, Plan Outline