VOL. 132 | NO. 25 | Friday, February 3, 2017
Local Soul Taking the Pain Out of Fundraising
BY MICHAEL WADDELL, Special to The Daily News
For Local Soul founder Cade Peeper, keeping things as “hyper local” as possible is a big focus heading into the company’s launch year into the Greater Memphis market.
Cade Peeper founded Local Soul, an online platform that streamlines fundraising for organizations while helping businesses promote their products and services.
(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)
Local Soul offers an easy-to-use online platform that streamlines the fundraising process and helps to promote a variety of local products and services.
“We’re really trying to focus our energies on helping those companies out by giving them a free advertising channel that they would not normally have had before,” said Peeper.
Fundraisers are able to build their own URL through the Local Soul website with products featured there, then they can rotate products in and out as they wish.
Peeper has amassed a great deal of experience with fundraising over the years, raising money for different ministries in Memphis and working with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Melrose High School for nearly seven years.
“Any time you do a ministry it takes money to get it going,” Peeper said. “We fed the kids pre-game meals before football games every week and had to raise money to do that.”
His work there led to helping to raise money for a group of 18 schools. “We were raising between $75,000 and $100,000 per year to cover all of the expenses for those schools.”
He went on to help various other organizations and was heavily involved with fundraising to help support the competitive sports needs of his three children, who are all now adults.
“I just saw that there was a tremendous amount of pain in fundraising,” he joked.
Peeper brought on two partners to help establish the platform for the business. Jason Fisher, owner of Cornerstone Technology, created the proprietary software and Laurie Tucker, former head of global marketing with FedEx Corp., assisted with marketing. A silent fourth partner provided much of the needed financial support.
“I was encouraged to slow down the growth that I wanted to see happen and take almost a year to create the platform,” said Peeper, adding that the startup completed beta sales last year.
The entire Local Soul website was retooled, made easier to navigate, and populated with three categories of products: locally made products, e-gift vouchers, and apparel.
“We can help design T-shirts and apparel that potential clients would want to sell, and we do that all through local companies here in town,” he said.
Gift boxes stuffed with local products like Dinstuhl’s, Papi Joe’s Tennessee Pepper Sauce and/or Aunt Lizzie’s Cheese Straws are available for corporate gift giving, and a large portion of the proceeds go to local charities.
Local Soul collects 11.5 percent of anything put in its system, including 3.5 percent for banking and credit card charges and 8 percent for its services.
The company’s list of local e-gift voucher partners is growing and currently includes restaurants like Schweinehaus, Lucchesi’s, Café Society and Jim’s Place East. Merchants receive an android device with Local Soul’s redemption app for reading a QR code sent directly to the e-voucher recipient’s email address with the funds available for use.
Local Soul also recently became a partner with and distributor for Orca Coolers, making some of their products available to be branded for fundraising purposes.
The University of Memphis Alumni Association began using Local Soul for some of its fundraising efforts last fall, and the group has raised several thousand dollars since September.
“We rotate the products every month, depending on what the product is and if there’s a short life to it,” said U of M Alumni Association director Kristie Goldsmith. “So if we have a tent available for tailgating we might promote it short term versus jackets, hats or alumni wear that they can wear year-round.”
The alumni association also puts together seasonal packages for different times of year.
“Local Soul is really great with bringing product ideas that promote the use of local vendors,” said Goldsmith, who cited a special coffee that had been developed by a local vendor to raise money for the Junior League of Memphis. “Their online platform is very easy to use, and it’s very visual.”
The money raised is used to increase alumni programming throughout the year, and that programming is up 39 percent for the group in the past six months.
“Every little bit helps us because we maximize those resources,” Goldsmith said. “We can’t afford to carry the product line totally, always carrying different sizes and various products, so it gives an opportunity to raise money for programming that we might not otherwise be able to do.”
She expects to continue to use Local Soul for future fundraising efforts.
“I think it’s a great idea because it promotes the local community. It benefits everybody,” said Goldsmith. “It also connects us with our alumni in a way that we haven’t been connected. This way we can connect with them if they are local or if they are spread out across the world. In the end, we can offer more to them and the friends of the University of Memphis.”
Local Soul has also helped related groups such as fraternities, sororities and the marching band with recent fundraising efforts.