Kathleen McLaughlin
The Bulletin

What: RightResponse Fundraising, distributor of first-aid kits

Pictured: Andy Thornton

Employees: Seven part-time and full-time

Address: 1560 NE First St., Bend

Website: http://www.rightresponsefundraising.com/

If Andy Thornton had his way, anyone who wanted to support a school or sports team would never have to buy overpriced candy or popcorn again.

His company, which does business as RightResponse Fundraising, packages a variety of first-aid kits, which sell for $15 to $120, and are sold by Boy Scouts and baseball teams across the country. RightResponse boasts a fundraiser average of just under $1,000 and annual revenue for the company of about $1.2 million. After 10 years in the business, however, Thornton said he’s come to accept that first-aid kits might never replace junk food.

“You can never win ’em all, even though you think you should,” Thornton said. In the first few years, he would feel frustrated by a group’s decision to sell candy. “Why would they do chocolate!” he said. “Because it raises money, and people like chocolate.”

A Bend resident, Thornton moved RapidResponse’s production from Vancouver, Washington, to Bend in 2017. He talked to The Bulletin about the business of fundraising. His responses have been edited for length and content.

Q: How do you split the proceeds with groups?

A: We pay 50 percent on every event with no minimum. Some other organizations pay up to 50 if you hit certain milestones. We’re trying to be as generous as we can with that. We’re all about the groups and helping them with their goals. We just operate on a thinner margin and try to make up for it by getting bigger.

Q: RightResponse began under your family’s former business, First Aid Only, which sells first-aid kits to major corporations. How did you decide to branch into fundraising?

A: We actually were just in a brainstorming session. I had a friend that was selling candy as a fundraiser. She was telling us how much fun it was to help groups hit their goals. We sat there and thought, ‘In an age of everyone being overweight, especially a concern with kids, we should probably have a better product than that.’ The answer was all around us. Then it was a lightbulb moment. ‘Well, why don’t they try selling our first-aid kits? That’s healthy.’

We experimented first with a couple of baseball teams that set new records for their organization. So we thought, ‘OK, well maybe this will work for everybody.’

Q: What’s the biggest fundraiser your company has been involved in so far?

A: We had one school in California that did over $40,000 in a couple of weeks. They did every trick we told them. They had a big assembly. They had all kinds of fun prizes. The principal agreed to be part of a human car wash. It’s where the principal rides on a little red wagon and everyone dumps a bucket of water on him as he goes by. They really got into the spirit.

Q: Where do you see the business in five years?

A: I think we’ll have more mainstream organizations that find out about us, and have us put their logo on our kits, and have that be their official fundraiser. I think we’ll be picked up by some pretty big groups. Once you have that, you’ll have a captive audience.

— Reporter: 541-617-7860, kmclaughlin@bendbulletin.com