Curtis Jones is President of BotanicalInterests.com, a family owned seed company based in Colorado. Botanical Interests offers a very unique seed selling fundraising program that works particularly well for schools and especially schools with gardens.
School Garden Weekly (SGW): Curtis, what inspired you to start this unique fundraising idea for schools?
Curtis Jones (CJ): The primary reason I did this was because I was TIRED of all the crap (candy, etc.) being sold by my kids as fundraisers. Additionally, I wanted a way to help the thousands of school organizations that need help. Not being Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, I can’t just write them checks (but would love to).
SGW: Is the fund raising hard to do?
CJ: Easy as can be. No forms to fill out , schools don’t touch the product. We also have a regular newsletter for the schools to assist them in their fundraiser.
SGW: How does it work?
CJ: Your “customers” buy seed from our website and you receive a check for 40% of the sales. We provide you with a url and a graphic for your website to advertise to your potential “customers”. This url can be included in an email, a paper newsletter sent home with kids, automated phone messages, or placed on a website. When I send you the url and graphic, I will also include hints on how to make this fundraiser effective.
SGW: Is there anything unique about your seeds? I mean, are the “customers” going to see your product at half off at some chain store and then feel “cheated” like they do when they buy overpriced fundraising products (i.e. candy bars and wrapping paper)?
CJ: To answer your second question first, we only sell to high quality retail garden centers and health food grocery stores. They sell our product at the exact same price the schools sell to their “customers”. To answer the first question, our product is extremely unique. Having HUGE amounts of information inside and on the front and back of our packets means they were designed to educate the gardener – in some respects, our goals are the same as the schools. We now have an extremely loyal following amongst gardeners because of our superior quality and unconditional guarantee.
SGW: Does it take awhile for the school’s “customers” to get their orders?
CJ: No. Once we receive an order, it is shipped within a day or two after we receive it. The order goes in a pretty box with a seed starting guide and pretty wrapping paper.
SGW: Are there any up front costs or expenses? How does a school get started?
CJ: NO expense at all. NONE. To get started, simply go to http://www.botanicalinterests.com/fundraising.php, scroll down, click the “Schools” button, and fill out the form. To look at the website that the school’s customers will see, go to botanicalinterests.com.
SGW: Are there any disadvantages to your fundraiser?
CJ: Only two. First, it is easy to buy a candy bar. Everyone can eat candy. Not everyone is a gardener. But we have something for everyone… including catgrass for cats. Also, everyone buys herbs at the store, right? With our educational packaging and high quality seed, it is easy for beginners or non-gardeners to grow a pot of basil or a year-round supply of other herbs such as oregano or thyme. Additionally, in our current economic environment, more and more people are starting to garden by seed. Victory-Garden like. This is a good time to jump on that bandwagon! The second disadvantage is that it is almost TOO easy a fundraiser. Without having some kid shove a form in his/her parents face, it is pretty easy for parents to ignore this fundraiser. We address this issue by also including the option to use an easy-to-use paper order form. With just a little effort, this fundraiser can become a NATIONAL fundraiser, not just a local one AND can generate income year round, unlike conventional fundraisers.
SGW: Thank you Curtis. I hope many schools take advantage of this.
CJ: Thank you George, me too 🙂