Funding Feasibility Update

One of our Owners emailed us last week with this question:  

"I’m interested in hearing the Board’s assessment of the fundraising market research report soon."

and we wanted to speak to it for all of you.

Prefer the video version of this email? Here you go:

The Board is excited by the promise the Firebrand Report shows BUT we are challenged by the results shown in our Capital Campaign team's report, which shows great concern about our ability to raise the needed funds to open. 

So to our Owner's question, what are we thinking and doing about funding?

What we're thinking:

  •  To meet our financial goals as laid out in our new pro forma, we need 3,500 total Owners before
       open - a big number.
  •       Our current Owner number is 1,871.
  •       Timing for recruitment is ~2 years.
  •       Marketing will be needed and we'll need help from Owners.
  •       We expect a bump in Ownership numbers at the start of construction (as we had with our site
  •  Past fundraising offered loans only, but we are changing that.
  •       We now have two donation options live on our website (including a tax-deductible option).
  •       Donations allow reaching beyond our Owner base which we understand would be required
            according to the report.
  •       We will follow the Oshkosh Food Co-op model of pursuing donations and loans with equal
            interest and promotion; Oshkosh recently raised $1.6MM with combined loans and donations
            from 1,300 owners.
  •  We want input from professional fundraiser(s) and are making those calls now.
  •  We are going to do more business outreach for donations.
  •       We need to keep our values top of mind as we do so, and find businesses who support those
            same ideals.

What we're the Board is doing:

  •  We are planning a pledge campaign after our negotiations with the CTA finalize.
    •       This will give the Board a sense of peoples' commitment and interest in the project as newly
  •  We briefed new directors on past fundraising efforts with emphasis on what worked well and what
       did not.
  •  We are scheduling calls with pro fundraisers (note that the cost of hiring one for our campaign is
       included in our pro forma financial plan).
  •  We are staying current with the two most likely grant sources for us (though we will probably not
       have answers on them before we need to make our decision about Gerber).
  •  We are reconnecting with potential sources of high dollar donations and/or loans we already know
       to share the Firebrand Report and see if they can commit to supporting us.
  •  We are developing a comprehensive plan to address the concerns and weaknesses that the Owner
       Survey and Fundraising Report showed us. We'll share the full plan soon, but it includes things like:
    •       Frequent, clear, transparent communications from the Board - to improve Owners'
              understanding of the project, its timeline and its current status (you're reading one now!).
    •       Restarting our Outreach & Inclusion team (led by some of our terrific new Board members) to
              better connect us with the diverse people and organizations in the community. 
    •       Our new All Are Welcome Ownership level has been approved and will roll out soon in hopes of
              bringing more diverse voices into our Owner community.
    •       Continuing to develop commercial activity even now through our To Market, To Market, Events
              and Pop-Up teams.
  •  All 13 of our Board members are dedicated and committed to working together to solve our
       fundraising challenge.
  •  And as always, we are reaching out to you - if you have fundraising ideas, DO NOT WAIT; it is critical
       the Board hear about them now; email us to share your ideas. 

But what are YOU doing?

Remember, the "we" in sentences like "What we're doing:" is "you"; it's all of us. The list above is what we, the Board, are doing to lead, as the questioner wondered. But success for OUR CO-OP does not rely solely on the Board doing. It relies on all of us as Owners participating. 

How can you take action to make your store happen?
  •  Pledge - let our Capital Campaign team know you would like to pledge a loan or donation right now.
       Funds will be due later but we need to know NOW that you're in!
  •  Recruit - tell your friends and neighbors how excited you are about our super promising 
       Firebrand report that shows our store will be a big success and has a solid path forward. Encourage
       them to join you as an Owner so we make progress toward the Owner goal the Firebrand financial
       planning sets for us. 
  •  Volunteer, especially on our Capital Campaign team, but other places as well. Email Kate to
       get started. 
  •  Be social - It's a tough time and we're all at home in front of our screens, so your friends will see your
       posts. Let them know through all your social networks that your Co-op has a path forward but needs
       them to join as Owners. Or share and like some of our posts. 

COVID-19 has proven grocery stores are essential businesses and will thrive. Firebrand has proven our store will work in Gerber and be a financial success. Now we need YOU to prove that you back your Co-op!

Take action and Back your Co-op so the Board feels confident that you will raise the funds alongside us. 

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