Mother Earth Fundraising is determined to change the way that schools raise money. The website’s eco-friendly product line and green business model allow groups to run a convenient and guilt-free fundraising program.
Mother Earth  was created in response to feedback from schools that have grown tired of conventional gift-wrap and frozen food fundraisers. Communities are ready for a change after years of being solicited with low-quality products that have little or no utility. Further, parent volunteers want to avoid the hassles of collating catalogs, tallying orders, and distributing products.
Co-Founder T.J. Compagnone seeks to address both of those concerns. “Communities are increasingly becoming more eco-conscious and tech-savvy,” says Compagnone. “They have always been eager to support their local school’s fundraising efforts, but they are now demanding green product alternatives and convenient ordering methods.”
In response, Mother Earth offers a 150-item web catalog that features 100 percent recycled gift-wrap, reusable shopping bags and water bottles, organic baking mixes, fair-trade coffee and tea, eco-friendly household items, and green pet goods.
The process itself also represents a dramatic change from the time-honored traditions of paper order forms, door-to-door selling and school distribution. Instead, groups simply register on the website and distribute Mother Earth’s electronic marketing materials to their community. Supporters then visit the site, identify their beneficiary and make purchases. All orders are shipped directly to the customer and schools earn 25 percent profit on all sales.
In the spirit of “going green,” the company has also adopted what it calls a “near zero-impact business model.” With the exception of quarterly profit checks and packing slips, Mother Earth is a paperless company that does not offer catalogs. Additionally, only eco-friendly materials are used to pack orders. Mother Earth is also carbon-neutral: any carbon created from shipping orders and daily operations is fully offset by purchasing carbon credits.
During development, Mother Earth realized the vital importance of creating a user-friendly website. “The site passes the ‘Mom Test,’” jokes Compagnone. “I’m proud to say that even my technically-challenged mother thinks that the site is incredibly easy to use.” The Web site also empowers the fundraising chairperson, customer and seller with tools that monitor sales, track orders and solicit supporters.
Mother Earth is open for business year-round and is designed to supplement or even replace current fundraising efforts. The goal is to capture repeat customers whose purchases will continue to benefit the school indefinitely. Schools can drive customers to the site by simply including a link to Mother Earth on the school website or marketing the program to parents through e-newsletters. Schools are encouraged to sign up before the end of the school year so they can begin making money over the summer.
Mother Earth Fundraising has created a program that proactively addresses changing consumer demands and effectively utilizes technology. Schools are slowly becoming greener, and they now have an opportunity to incorporate an appropriate fundraising strategy into their overall efforts.