Project Review: the Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative

 

mfscscreenClient: Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative (MFSC)

Site: MaineFarmAndSea.coop

Projects: NationBuilder.com Discovery, Website Setup & Development; E-commerce Setup & Integration; Content Development & Implementation; Video Direction & Implementation; Media Production; Campaign Strategy & Development; Website Architecture

 

Welcome to the nation’s first cooperative institutional dining service.  Which, is the first time ever to challenge the 3 global providers of such services.  If they win the USM contract, they will be expanding the local economy in a way never seen before.  Internet Farmer has worked with these people for years and it was a pleasure to engage in a campaign to change Maine’s economy.

At first, we had to develop a lot of content quickly for the launch of the service at the release of the USM Request for Proposal.  In about 6 weeks Jonah put together a marketing team and we developed website content and ideas for how to run a campaign online.  We also wrote a video script and shot the video to tell the story of MFSC.  It was a busy 6 weeks.

Once the content was developed for the website we dove in to NationBuilder.com.  This is a site building tool, but also a CRM software, e-commerce mechanism and campaign management.  Internet Farmer was impressed at how it all worked.  It was easy to get payments going, setup a template for a nice looking website, totally connected to social media, and you could see the world was at your fingertips as we added information to the system.

This is Obama-level campaign software, a game changer in fundraising and community building.  And it’s available to anyone for as low as $30/mo.  A great tool if you want to build a world around you and have it be organized and manageable.  It was such a good experience Internet Farmer is becoming a NationBuilder.com developer to further our work in food justice.

After launching we’ve seen the CRM work really well.  It automatically tags people based on being a member, a non-paying supporter, volunteer, etc.  As the campaign moves down the line, we’ll also use the automatic tagging to track referrals so we can see who is raising the most funds and growing the membership in order to develop those relationships.

Sending emails has been easy.  To whatever list, or sublist, you wish.  So easy.

Setting up the payment system was one of the easiest experiences I’ve had.  We used PayPal and connected it to NationBuilder and it was all set.  It has plenty of options to work with anyone’s commerce setup.

Internet Farmer is thankful for being a part of this project.  A first director credit reminded us of how awesome producing media is to tell a story.  Learning NationBuilder.com was a gift.  And being a part of a big team working for something great couldn’t feel better.

Speaking of the first director credit and story telling, here’s the video we put together… thanks so much to Joseph Brunnett (videography) and Patrick Bonsant (editor) for their incredible work on the video.  And cheers to everyone on the marketing team who all contributed ideas and logistical planning to make this come to life.  This was truly a team effort and I am so thankful for the opportunity.

SNAP/EBT Benefits(a.k.a. food stamps) Add Cost For Retailers

It seems that on September 21, 2014, SNAP/EBT will no longer be free. I’m not sure it was ever entirely free, but there wasn’t a monthly fee. One company seems to be offering the equipment at $75/mo with no other fees and no long lease agreements on the equipment.

Why the change? I guess it is because in order to get the SNAP program renewed in the latest farm bill, the law makers negotiation went something like: “The Fed gives millions of tax payer dollars to states to support this program already, so why should we also pay for the infrastructure?”

On one hand, my gut says this is terrible. Our system creates this need, so why shouldn’t our system facilitate the whole circle? On the other hand, for $75/month you are able to bring customers in the store who really need your healthy products and otherwise couldn’t afford it. Furthermore, you make money by collecting on a purchase backed by government funds. Plus, it’s a business expense that could be seen as a type of marketing.

Whether you are a physical store, an on-line store, a buying club, a CSA… this may cut in to your cash flow. That said, if offering SNAP/EBT fits in your mission, it won’t be too bad. My fear is that those who were considering starting a free program would not pay anything if they don’t feel they can afford to spend another dime. I’ll keep the hope that the mission and potential income is motivation enough to do it.

For details…

http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/how-accept-snap-benefits-your-store