The 3 Best Earth-Friendly Ways to Raise Money

Improve the world and raise money for your school's cause? It's easier than you think.

By Leah Zerbe

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3 surprising ways to raise money for your schoolWhile many traditional fund-raisers often involve candy loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, toxic candles, or bad-for-your-waistline bake sales, today’s progressive fund-raisers consider health, environmental, and fair trade issues.

Whether you’re raising money for the school band or a small community organization, one thing is clear: You now have green fund-raising options that will pay off twofold, not only raising cash for your club but creating healthier, sustainable communities, too.

Spring and summer are prime time for meeting and developing fall fund-raising programs that will go into effect during the next school year.

Here are 3 fund-raising programs you can feel good about:

Ecofriendly Flowers

Help solve the honeybee colony-collapse disorder crisis, improve your home’s value, and protect public health? It all starts with a tulip. An organic tulip, that is. EcoTulips is the only company in the country to offer certified-organic flower bulbs. That’s important because bulbs are often treated with toxic pesticides that wind up in pollen, killing countless honeybees. Farm workers are exposed to those same pesticides, so participating in organic fund-raisers also helps protect other families. There’s something in this for you, as well: Gussying up your front yard can improve your property value by 7 percent. Homes with attractive landscaping also sell 5 to 6 weeks earlier, according to a 1991 Virginia Tech University study.

The fundraiser: Choose to sell organic tulip, crocus, daffodil, and hyacinth bulbs, either through traditional brochure fund-raising or online sales.

Profit: 50 percent for traditional brochure sales; 40 percent for online sales (the company ships the bulbs, eliminating distribution work on your end).

Learn More: EcoTulips.com


Candy with a Conscience
A newly expanded fair-trade and organic candy fund-raising program means kids can promote global citizenship and sustainability in addition to raising cash next fall. While other major chocolate producers are under scrutiny for child labor issues, Equal Exchange Fundraising sources its sweets from fair-trade farms that protect workers from unjust conditions. "The new Equal Exchange candy bars are similar to the classic favorite candy bars from conventional fund-raising programs," says Equal Exchange community sales representative Ruthie Oland. "Thanks to Equal Exchange, there is now an organic alternative with a Fair Trade story behind it."

The fundraiser: Fun flavors include dark chocolate fruit & nut, a milk chocolate crisp bar with puffed rice, and milk chocolate peanut butter bars. The organic chocolate ensures that the ingredients were grown without the use of toxic pesticides, genetically engineered ingredients, or chemical fertilizers. Besides the chocolate bars, Equal Exchange Fundraising will also offer fair-trade coffee, tea, cocoas, olive oil, and granola bars, as well as handmade scarves, jewelry, and toys.

Profit: 40 percent for traditional fund-raising catalog sales; 25 percent for online sales. (For online sales, Equal Exchange ships directly to customers, so fund-raisers don’t have to worry about distributing products.)

Learn More: Equal Exchange

 


Legacy Garden Treasures
Seed Savers Exchange, a nonprofit aimed at preserving treasured heirloom varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers, offers a healthy fund-raiser that, besides raising cash, will spark people’s interest in organic gardening and nutrition. Heirloom seeds are handed down from generation to generation because a plant’s unique characteristics, including amazing taste and beauty, are valued.

The fundraiser: The program offers six packages for customers to choose from. Each bundle contains four seed packets and costs $10. The options include “Big Salad Bowl,” featuring tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, and cucumbers; “Container Magic,” ideal for people with limited space; “Kids’ Favorites,” featuring large popcorn, sunflower, watermelon, and bean seeds that are easy for little hands to plant; “Pizza Party,” offering basil, tomato, pepper, and oregano for flavoring pies; “Heritage Garden,” featuring seeds that tout incredible stories; and “Flower Passion” for garden-brightening blooms.

Profit: Organizations keep 40 percent of what they sell, meaning if the group sells 200 collections, it raises $800.

Learn More: Seed Savers Exchange

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