When the book came out last summer, I spoke with two dozen radio personalities about Raising Dough, what constitutes a “socially responsible food business” (the answer of course being, “it depends!”), why there are barriers to raising money for them, and how I got into this work in the first place.
Many of the stations recorded and archived these interviews, and I recently discovered that many of them are available online, either as podcasts or as streaming audio.
I’ve posted them all here in case you want to listen to any of them.
Crowdfunding is quite the buzzword these days… who wouldn’t want to raise money from the masses? Unfortunately, many people looking to raise money for their farms or food-based businesses don’t realize that there are many different methods of crowdfunding. Each comes with its own laws, pitfalls, and challenges, but depending on your particular situation, chances are one of them could be a good fit for you.
It’s important to understand the different crowdfunding options out there so that you can assess them based upon your own skills, values, and proclivities. (As an example, community-supported crowdfunding models don’t make any sense for people who would prefer not to have to do a lot of community organizing, but the introverts out there might find peer-to-peer lending to be just the ticket.)
I recently gave this presentation at the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture’s 23rd Annual Farming for the Future Conference, and I share it here in hopes that it will help clear up some of the crowdfunding confusion out there. Though all the examples I used are farm-based, you can — and many people do — use all these forms of crowdfunding to raise money for other types of food businesses, not to mention any business that sells goods or services to the general public.
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Heritage Radio reporter Cathy Erway recently called to ask me several food financing questions for a live radio interview for the Eat Your Words show.
Listen to the half-hour show now to learn about the three different types of crowdfunding, my advice for combatting “crowdfunding fatigue,” the importance of a sound business plan, and more.
The first official review of Raising Dough: the Complete Guide to Financing a Socially Responsible Food Business is in! Here’s what ForeWord Reviews has to say:
This guide is an invaluable aid for those who produce healthy foods and need a practical and socially responsible business model… The fact-filled, exceptionally well-organized book teaches food idealists how to crunch the numbers and market their product—from conceptual steps to the success that is the dream of every small business person.
The author makes clear that several strategies are needed in order to “raise dough.” First, she asks readers to consider their values and how important are considerations such as place, control, scale, pace, and financial success. She asks whether readers want to be tied to a location, constantly at the helm, or whether they want the business to grow larger, faster, or at a reasonable pace. Are they willing to take financial risks to achieve financial goals?
Is lack of access to capital really a problem for food businesses that are solving social and environmental problems? There are more types of capital than ever before to support food businesses… but many don’t know they exist, they can be challenging to access and even more, it’s hard to tell which type will be the best for each business.
In the most recent of the National Good Food Network series of webinars (watch below), I lay out a framework for thinking about appropriate financing sources for enterprises, sensitive to their unique values, priorities, and where they are in the business lifecycle. This presentation was designed primarily for organizations that work with socially responsible food businesses, such as people who work for nonprofits, government offices, economic development companies, consulting firms, lenders, foundations, family offices. Of course the same principles apply to fundraising entrepreneurs themselves, who will find lots of tools to work with in their quest to raise money.
I was happy to share the “stage” with Gray Harris of Coastal Enterprises Inc. (CEI), a community development finance institution (CDFI) in Maine. She gives some detailed, illustrative examples of this organization’s investments, and investment strategies in regional food systems. We both come to the same conclusion: capital itself is not enough, and there needs to be a significant technical assistance component to ensure the success of good food ventures.
Finance for Food designs capital and fundraising workshops for food entrepreneurs and those who provide them technical assistance. Please be in touch if your organization would be interested in hosting a workshop, or if you would like to request a workshop in your area.