Jesse Lasater and his wife, Veronica, are the founders of Harvest Funders, a crowdsourcing site for agriculture.
Jesse Lasater and his wife, Veronica, are the founders of Harvest Funders, a crowdsourcing site for agriculture.

“Small ag” equipment doesn’t necessarily mean small prices for rural lifestylers who are buying a tractor for the first time. This means financing is as much a part of the sale as horsepower or features. In fact, in our 2014 Dealer Business Trends & Outlook survey, 60% of dealers say customers seek financing options from them more than half of the time.

Donating to a cause is not a new idea, but the Internet and social media have taken it to a whole new level. For instance, Kickstarter is a crowdfunding site for art, film, technology and other projects. Since its launch in 2009, 5.6 million people have pledged $962 million to fund 55,000 creative projects. In return, funders benefit from being part of a project they believe in and receive a small reward, a promotional item, for instance.

Think about your customers and their creative projects, such as agri-tourism businesses, community supported agriculture operations, equine centers or even community parks with UTV riding trails.

If Jesse Lasater’s dream comes true, projects like that could be funded through Harvest Funders, his new crowdfunding site for agriculture. The site is launching soon. Lasater lives in Bayfield, Colo., with his wife, Veronica. His family recently sold their sheep operation and he now raises hay (alfalfa and grass/clover mix) for area farmers, using a Kubota M6800, a John Deere 535 round baler and 336 square baler, an older New Idea 548 mower and other equipment.

Lasater learned about crowdfunding through his cousin who used Kickstarter to fund an album. He saw the need for funding in his own ag community when an area farmer was struggling to get financing for a new irrigation project.

“If people want to donate to a great cause, ag is one of the best because it puts food on the table,” says Lasater.

Harvest Funders is a concept to watch. This type of financing could lead to interesting discussions when meeting with customers as you help them figure out how to pay for equipment. Their plans may no longer have to be vetted by somebody behind a desk, but by someone who could directly benefit.

Sharing new ways to finance dreams is another way to be a rural lifestyle consultant and business partner and not just an equipment vendor. Have you worked with your customers on innovative financing arrangements? Please share your ideas in the comment section below.