Eco Fundraising with Friendly Fundraising’s Lillian Johnson
February 19, 2015
JOHN SHEGERIAN: We’re here in San Francisco at the Green Festivals, and we’ve got a really great guest here with us today, Lillian Johnson, the president, owner and founder of Friendly Fundraising. Welcome to Green is Good, Lillian. LILLIAN JOHNSON: Hi. Thank you for having me. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Happy that you’re here today. Before we get talking about Friendly Fundraising, share a little bit about the Lillian Johnson story, the journey. What led up to you founding this great new company, Friendly Fundraising? LILLIAN JOHNSON: Thank you. It started out because I have four children, and fundraising was my life for about 20 years, working with the schools, the teachers, the administration. I was really lucky and grateful that I had that opportunity to work with them. They’re amazing people. But it’s a lot of hard work, and there were many things about it that I wanted to see done a little differently. It’s kind of competitive for the kids sometimes. I kind of got to see all the aspects of how that affected the kids. The parents are working hard and they’re busy, but yet they have to find time to volunteer at the schools to drive the kids around, to make those phone calls, to get everything done. I wanted it to be eco-friendly. My four kids, as they grew up and got out on their own, they brought the world in to me, and I’m so lucky because they really helped me to understand about what it is to be conscious about the ecology and to be better shepherds and to take care of the Earth and each other. Because of them, I kind of what do you want to be when you grow up? This is where I wanted to be. Kids are my passion. I like any organization that really helps people, but that really is how I got started. JOHN SHEGERIAN: What year did you start Friendly Fundraising? LILLIAN JOHNSON: I’ve been working on it for about six years. We have been launched and live for just a few months. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wonderful. You say it’s easy eco fundraising for organizations. Explain how it’s easy eco fundraising and it’s different than what other organizations are doing for their fundraising. LILLIAN JOHNSON: The organization would sign up with us. We would give them a link to our website that’s dedicated just to that organization. They would share that link with all of their members. The members would go online. They’ll shop with us, and then every month we’re going to send a check to that organization for a percentage of the sales that were generated in their name. It’s not door-to-door. There’s no teachers taking classroom time to count money. I did that. It’s a lot of time. JOHN SHEGERIAN: For our listeners and viewers that want to find your new service, it’s friendlyfundraising.com. It’s that simple. LILLIAN JOHNSON: Yes, it’s that simple. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Share with our listeners what kind of products you have. LILLIAN JOHNSON: We try to make sure that everyday products are on there. We have everything from laundry detergent to makeup to bath products to some vitamins, supplements, minerals, a little bit of everything. We wanted to make sure that it was things that people are going to use, to encourage them to shop a little more eco-friendly, and to support their schools all at the same time. JOHN SHEGERIAN: How many products approximately do you have right now up on your website? LILLIAN JOHNSON: We have over 10,000. We’ve got a lot of the names that people recognize, like Seventh Generation, Ecover, Bio-Clean, some of the ones that are very well-known, and then there are other ones that aren’t quite so mainstream. JOHN SHEGERIAN: You’re a fresh eco-preneur, and your kids inspired you on all this. How’s it been going the first couple months? LILLIAN JOHNSON: It’s amazing to do something you love and be able to be a partnership with my sons and daughters and their families, who also help. I couldn’t do it without them. It’s not something that I could do just on my own. With their support, it’s been amazing. These Festivals, oh my gosh, the people you meet here are amazing. It’s just beyond wonderful. JOHN SHEGERIAN: For other budding and wannabe eco-preneurs and entrepreneurs, coming to the Green Festival to launch or to further promote their products is a good idea? LILLIAN JOHNSON: It’s a wonderful idea. Even if it doesn’t help further what we’re doing, just to meet these people is wonderful and to connect. Everybody works together and just to learn about each other is wonderful. Everything here kind of helps build that mass consciousness of the direction we want to be going. It’s wonderful. JOHN SHEGERIAN: How big of an area do you service? Is it the entire United States, every zip code, or is it limited to a certain area? LILLIAN JOHNSON: Right now we’re continental U.S. We’d like to branch out at some point, but right now, 48 states. JOHN SHEGERIAN: If I’m a guy who runs a fundraising program in ABC City, is there any restrictions on the organization, or can it be any organization that wants to raise money in an eco-friendly way can sign up with Friendly Fundraising? LILLIAN JOHNSON: Yes, any organization. It does not have to be a school. It started that way, just because that was my passion and that was what I knew. But basically, it would work the same for any organization that has to raise funds. JOHN SHEGERIAN: How’s your marketing been? Besides the great Green Festivals where we’re at today in San Francisco, how are you getting the word out to all the organizations that need the fundraisers? You and I know it’s schools, there’s so many types of organizations that always need to fundraise. How are you, then, marketing to them? LILLIAN JOHNSON: Actually, my daughter, that’s her field. She does the online part of the marketing, and I’ll be quite honest with you that it’s totally her field. She handles that for me. JOHN SHEGERIAN: She’s divide and conquer, and it’s a family affair. That’s wonderful. Before we have to say goodbye today, is there anything else you’d like to share with our listeners or viewers? LILLIAN JOHNSON: I’m grateful for the opportunity to get to talk to you. Hopefully, you’re having a great day, and I would love it if you would check us out at friendlyfundraising.com. JOHN SHEGERIAN: If you want to raise money and do it in an eco-friendly way, go to friendlyfundraising.com. Lillian Johnson, we thank you for being on Green is Good, and we thank you for making the world a better place. You are truly living proof that green is good. LILLIAN JOHNSON: Thank you very much. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Thank you.