Home Cool Company Awards 2010 Meet Living Fundraisers, Anthill 2010 Cool Company Award Finalist

Meet Living Fundraisers, Anthill 2010 Cool Company Award Finalist [Social Capitalist Award Category]

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The Cool Company Awards were launched in 2006 as a way for Anthill to acknowledge and celebrate Australian organisations that are doing things differently to bring about positive change. Cool Companies stay one step ahead of the rest. They breed leaders who are rule-makers and rule-breakers. They are trend-setters in attitude and action. Quite simply, they are … cool! More.

Living Fundraisers

Company: Living Fundraisers
Website: livingfundraisers.com.au
State: VIC
Category: Social Capitalist

The world of fundraising for schools, churches and nonprofits are chock-full of junk food: chocolate bars, cookie dough and their unhealthy ilk. A pair of Melbourne-area entrepreneurs are trying to inject a healthy option into that mix with their Living Fundraisers enterprise.

Rachel Taylor and Rebeka Jageurs met in an entrepreneurship master’s program at University of Swinburne. Living Fundraisers started as an assignment borne out of their passions for social entrepreneurship and a desire to reverse the trend of obesity and passivity in Australia.

Living Fundraisers offers a range of herb- and vegetable-growing kits that make it easy and fun for people to grow their own produce. The company also offers seed-embedded Christmas cards. “These products allow schools and community groups to promote healthy, educational activities instead of flogging chocolate bars,” Taylor said.

Taylor adds that their three-person company is finding a welcome audience. Most school districts are careful to sell nutritious food on campus, and increasing numbers of parents are balking at selling junk food for fund-raisers. “Many schools also have vegetable gardens, and our products help children take the gardening skills they learn home to their parents and communities,” Taylor said.

Primary schools, kindergartens and child-care centres are Living Fundraisers’ No. 1 market, and it’s a ripe one, with more than 7,500 primaries in Australia and more than 5,000 preschools. A secondary market is community groups, sports groups and charities. The for-profit company, launched in 2009, became profitable this year.

The beauty of Living Fundraisers (which partners with other socially aware groups such as Happy School, Greening Australia and Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation) is how it targets two worthy goals at once.

“In one year, we’ve helped more than 400 schools, children’s centres and community organisations raise in excess of $350,000,” Taylor said. “We’ve put more than 140,000 herb- and vegetable-growing kits into the hands of Australians who might never have planted a thing in their lives. And this year, more than 30,000 people will receive a Christmas card that will grow a native Australian daisy.”

Taylor said a little town in north WA named Useless Loop (we’re not kidding) was transformed by one of their fundraisers. Most of the town’s food is a two-day delivery from Perth; fresh it ain’t. “With our products, people started growing their own veggies and realised what fresh food was like.”

Living Fundraisers has, by design, no office. The three employees work from home, use a cloud customer-management system, and communicate by email, phone and Skype. Facebook is used extensively as a branding tool, and they populate the pages with articles and information about healthy eating, growing food and fighting child obesity.

The company’s single staffer, like the founders, works from home and has a two-year-old. “Customers love it when they can hear a child in the background,” Taylor said. “She loves it because it means she doesn’t have to compromise parenting and working.”

Living Fundraisers brochure

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