Fair Trade USA® Reaches $25 Million Goal in Transformative Capital Campaign

Five-year campaign concludes with record philanthropic contributions to empower businesses and consumers, identify new opportunities to expand the impact of fair trade, and improve the lives farmers, factory workers, and fishermen around the world.
Jul 29, 2019 4:00 PM ET
Press Release

OAKLAND, Calif., July 29, 2019 /3BL Media/ – Fair Trade USA, the leading third-party certifier of fair trade products in North America, has announced the successful conclusion of its first-ever Capital Campaign, which raised $25 million to launch new fair trade products, reach new producer communities, and channel millions of dollars in cumulative additional income to farmers, workers, and fishermen. 

The Fair Trade USA Capital Campaign provided funding to: 

  • Support small-scale family farmers in the fair trade movement so they can tap into vital markets and training opportunities while improving productivity. Additionally, Capital Campaign funding enabled Fair Trade USA to certify the first fair trade coconuts from small-scale farmers in the Philippines. 

  • Bring justice to farmworkers both in the United States and abroad, so they can build a future free of abuse and poverty. Fair Trade USA has trained more than 75,000 farmworkers in human rights, workplace safety and community development.  

  • Put fair trade in the factory to empower workers, such as those in the garment industry, with safe conditions and a voice in the workplace.  Since 2013, the program has grown to include 52 certified factories in 13 countries, protecting and empowering over 80,000 workers through partnerships with Athleta, J.Crew, Patagonia, prAna, West Elm, and more. 

  • Sustain fishing communities by improving the lives of fishers and aquaculture workers through the world’s first fair trade fish certification. Fair Trade Certified™ Alaska salmon, Mexican shrimp, New England scallops, and Maldivian tuna are already available to consumers in the United States and Europe.  

  • Strengthen the fair trade model to drive growth and impact and catalyze change around the world.  Fair Trade USA is actively investing in new technology to transform its business, developing a world-class monitoring and evaluation system, reducing cost and complexity in its certification standards, and continuing to build consumer demand for Fair Trade Certified products. 

  • Identify new opportunities for impact to dramatically expand the scale and reach of the proven fair trade model in new sectors.  Looking to the future, there are new opportunities for investment that will ensure continued growth and relevancy.  The most prominent example is a partnership that Fair Trade USA recently launched with Chobani to explore the potential to apply fair trade standards to the dairy industry.  Such programs will require continued philanthropic support from the public. 

“Thanks to the generous philanthropic support we’ve received for our Capital Campaign from donors big and small, we have been able to make critical investments in people, product and technology,” said Paul Rice, Founder and CEO of Fair Trade USA. “We can confidently say that the future is brighter for millions of producers worldwide, but it feels like we are just getting started.” 

Rice continued: “Fair Trade USA aims to certify millions more farms, factories and fisheries, partner with more companies, build broad consumer demand, and change more lives. To realize this ambitious goal, the non-profit will continue to innovate, iterate and invest where it matters to make the model even more impactful for everyone — producers, brands, retailers, and consumers.” 

 The largest contribution to the campaign was an initial $10 million matching grant from Bob and Christine Stiller, followed by another $1 million from them later in the campaign. Additionally, The Rockefeller Foundation made a $2 million investment to help launch Fair Trade USA’s seafood program. Generous gifts were also given by Ron Rankin, The Blue Haven Initiative and the Cordes Foundation. Fair Trade USA’s growth depends on philanthropic support and strategic partnerships from foundations, corporations, and generous individuals. 

“To me fair trade has always meant better coffee for a better world, and I knew it had great potential to grow into something bigger with much more significant reach and impact,” said Bob Stiller, Co-Founder of Green Mountain Coffee.  “Structuring our donation as a matching grant was a challenge not only to the organization, but also to other donors and investors out there looking for a tangible way to shift sustainable trade from niche to norm.” 

A report detailing the results of the campaign, including highlights by initiative, can be found here.  \\

About Fair Trade USA  

Fair Trade USA® is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and the leading certifier of fair trade products in North America. Its trusted Fair Trade Certified™ seal on a product signifies that it was made according to rigorous fair trade standards that promote sustainable livelihoods and safe working conditions, protection of the environment, and strong, transparent supply chains. Rather than creating dependency on aid, Fair Trade USA’s model empowers farmers, workers, and fishermen to fight poverty and earn additional money to improve their communities. Winner of Fast Company’s Social Enterprise of the Year Award and recognized as a leading social venture by the Clinton Global Initiative, the Skoll Foundation, and Ashoka, Fair Trade USA also helps brands and retailers tell their stories of impact and educates consumers about the power of their purchase. 

Katie Schneider
Fair Trade USA
Mary Hedahl
Chief Development Officer