Interview With George Riley, Director of Development, Red Tomato
There’s no question what this organization is all about — the perfect, ripe tomato.
The mission of the Canton, Mass.-based organization Red Tomato is “connecting farmers and consumers through marketing, trade and education, and through a passionate belief that a family-farm, locally based, ecological, fair-trade food system is the way to a better tomato.” Here FundRaising Success talks with Red Tomato Director of Development George Riley.
FundRaising Success: How do you fund your mission?
George Riley: [Our mission is funded] 20 percent produce trade margin, 55 percent foundation and government grants, 15 percent individual gifts, 10 percent fees for service/consulting.
FS: What is produce trade margin?
GR: As far as produce trade margins, we are an unusual organization in that part of our mission is to be involved in what we call “market-based change” — meaning one of the things we do is actively promote and sell produce in the marketplace on behalf of the network of growers we represent. This gives us a “real-world” laboratory for research and development; provides real income to the farmers and access to great produce for our retail customers; and it provides some income — “trade margin” — to help offset the costs of doing this type of work.
FS: What are the biggest challenges Red Tomato faces as far as fundraising is concerned?
GR: Our biggest challenge is to expand the percentage of income from individual gifts, and decrease our reliance on grants.
FS: Do you foresee any big changes in the way you reach potential donors and other supporters in the near future?
GR: We intend to focus more on potential donors who are really passionate about fresh local food and family farms, and who understand the need to change our food system.
FS: How would you describe your fundraising philosophy?
GR: Not everyone understands or cares about what we do. We want to find those few who do care, and bring them into our family.