The inventor of the “mattress fundraiser,” Joe Matejka earned his marketing degree from Ohio University. His first job after college was with a firm that operated traditional fundraisers for schools and other organizations. He later started his own firm which furnished model homes for builders. In 2005, capitalizing on lessons learned in both industries, Joe Matejka invented the mattress fundraiser, and established Custom Fundraising Solutions.
When his children reached school age, Matejka noticed that the products being sold in their schools’ fundraisers – candy, cookie dough, knickknacks, gewgaws, and the like — hadn’t changed from when he was in the fundraising industry. Around the same time, he encountered a statistic that would warm the heart of any marketer (or mattress manufacturer): 9.9 percent of the American population purchases a brand new mattress every year. Combining the two industries he was most familiar with, home furnishing and fundraising, Matejka approached the school football coach with an idea for a mattress fundraiser, and they decided to try it out.
In traditional fundraisers, students take orders for a broad range of products, and deliver them later. A mattress fundraiser is essentially the same, except that those friends and neighbors, as well as students’ parents, are asked to purchase a mattress, if they’re in the market, from a selection on display at the school, often the gym or cafeteria, for later delivery. Not faced with any of the normal overhead, the school can sell the mattresses for a significant discount – in some cases as much as 60 percent — from their normal retail price, and still realize a handsome profit for the school. And because purchasers help the school while buying a product they really need at a great price, the transaction really is win-win.
In that first mattress fundraiser in 2005, Matejka sold 42 mattresses and raised more than $4,000 in a single day. Today, with more than 100 locations nationwide, his company’s goal is to raise more than $10 million annually for the schools with which they work.