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How can one raise capital during a global pandemic? What can we learn from a very experienced non-profit fundraiser who has joined a regenerative agriculture tech startup two years ago? These are the questions that we will be zoning in the episode of Investing in Regenerative Agriculture, along with our special guest Gina Pattisson, founding team member of Soil Heroes. During this pandemic Gina had to pivot fundraising plans completely but nevertheless was still able to raise more than half a million euros.
Soil Heroes goal is to make nature everyone’s business and to get farmers paid for the ecosystem services they provide the world.
Everything Begins with Soil
Gina Pattisson has spent the last 20 years of her life working in international development with the belief that the world can function differently. Through these experiences, she discovered that everything begins with the soil beneath everyone’s feet. When one fixes the soil, this leads to fix climate change, people’s resilience and health. It is only when we address how we use our land, that we address all other ensuing challenges the world faces.
“When you fix our soil, you fix our climate problems. When you fix the soil, you fix people’s resilience of the crops they’re growing, they become independent. When you fix the soil, you’re actually fixing your own health because this changes what you eat. All this for me was like having literal scales falling from my eyes. Why is it that: for 20 years and all of this work I haven’t actually been talking about soil health? So for me, there’s no going back. The mission is extremely clear. I think when we address how we use our land, we address all of those other ensuing challenges.” – Gina Pattisson
Never Make Assumptions
In Soil Heroes she managed to strive in fundraising despite the global pandemic starting from a new mindset and the steps they have taken towards financial sustainability. The one thing she has learned during the challenges Covid-19 has brought is to never make assumptions. In the end, the goal of Soil Heroes’ fundraising is not profit for purpose, but rather profit through purpose.
“With fundraising, I have learned through the Covid challenges to never assume. You don’t make assumptions. You need to peel things back and really understand. I was pretty bold. My view was this is the moment for impact investment to really step up. In fact it doesn’t change a thing because we still are not using our lands properly. We still need to change how we work, how we see farmers, how we understand the food that we put in our mouth, and the clothes that we choose to wear” – Gina Pattisson
Keeping the Dialogue Flowing
Gina’s advice for those who are fundraising during these challenging time is keeping the dialogue flowing since this is where everything starts. It is important to talk more about the boundaries and possibilities of the fundraising and to know short and long term challenges for the future investors.
Despite the difficulty and pressure, Gina encourages that rather than thinking about the funding, understand one’s pillars and network. In the end, it’s important for longevity and impact to have the right people on board for the team.
“Be authentic, open and honest. This will help you on your running rate. It’s very important for the longevity of what we’re doing and our impact to have the right people on board. It’s never just one person or one family. Be honest, it’s very simple and very plain advice, but I think you just need to breathe and believe in what you’re doing. Talk, listen, be open and not hold on too tight.” – Gina Pattisson
Talking About Money is the Last Thing
Soil Heroes helps soil health and helps the farmers get paid for the ecosystem services they build. The last thing discussed during fundraising is the money that is involved. Soil Heroes is introducing investors and customers into beautiful stories about how they can create change together for the world. Gina connects the dots for those who are passionate about changing the way one uses the land and the vision of a different way for operating it.
“In the end, talking about money last is critical. It’s never around the funds themselves. It’s actually about what we are going to do together? So my advice in a crisis is- although you might be feeling really pressured about how are you going to pay the next bills and how are you going to see through to the next month or retain the talent that you have- the most important thing you can do is to understand who are my pillars, who is my network, and how do we want to approach this together?” – Gina Pattisson
Other Important Points Discussed
Koen and Gina discussed these points in the episode:
- What Gina would do if she were in charge of a $1 Billion investment fund tomorrow morning
- What Gina would do if she could do one thing differently in fundraising
- What Gina believes would put the joy and pride back in farming
- What Gina would do if she had a magical wand that could change one thing in the food and agriculture space
To know more about Gina Pattisson and how she raised more than 500k euros during a pandemic, download and listen to this episode.
Gina has worked for environmental, sustainable livelihood and social causes in partnership, fundraising, and senior management roles for over 20 years. She is passionate about the wellbeing of people and the planet, access to opportunities, and the power of dialogue. She is currently Partnerships Director at Soil Heroes, based in The Netherlands. Gina read Theology at Oxford University where she also gained a diploma in creative writing.
Website: Soil HeroesJoin the Community