Where Fundraising Money Is Spent

26 Jan

Three years ago, Dana Perkins volunteered to join her local school’s parent teacher group, Partners in Education (PIE). She discovered that PIE had some lofty fundraising goals, but no formal fundraiser in place. In the past they had hosted an annual carnival to raise money, but they now needed to expand if they were going to meet their goals.

With no prior fundraising experience, Dana really had to learn on the fly. She searched for a fundraising program on Google and found Popcorn Palace. The idea of selling popcorn stood out among alternatives because similar local groups were selling trail mix or cookie dough, and she knew PIE could corner the popcorn market.

The Popcorn Palace fundraiser kickstarted PIE’s ability to make a bigger contribution to their school, and they have now been running a highly profitable program for the past three years. We invited Dana to share PIE’s methods so we could help other parent teach groups achieve similar success. She was happy to oblige.

To kick off the fundraiser each year, the PIE volunteers create an informational packet about the fundraiser, and the teachers distribute these packets to each student. The packets include the fundraising form and a letter to the parents that explains why the fundraiser is important and how the money will be spent. It also outlines the incentives to the students and the success of previous years.

Dana says this letter is particularly important because it sets expectations for the parents of how their contribution will benefit the school.

Each year, they have had a different goal for equipment they wanted to purchase for the school and other improvements they hoped to make. During the first year, their goal was to buy 20 iPads; in the second year, they focused on funding assemblies and field trips; and in the third year they wanted to buy a new drinking fountain for the track and field ground. They’ve been able to meet all of their goals and go beyond each year. Last year, the top individual seller sold $1,000 worth of popcorn and the top class sold $3,814!

As a result of sharing these accomplishments in their annual letter, all of the parents have deeply bought into the program. The entire community is very helpful and engaged with both buying and selling. The kids are always very excited about the popcorn, and Dana says it’s an easy sell.

At the end of the fundraiser, the school rewards the top individual seller with a packet of movie tickets and the top selling class with a pizza and ice cream party.

Dana’s advice to new sellers is this: “Keep the selling period short and include a couple of weekends, otherwise the fundraising steam will die down or people will just forget.” Everyone at PIE also loves how the new Popcorn Palace sorting feature has sped up their process. With the tally sheet, it only takes about two and a half hours for her small team of volunteers to sort the students by class and tabulate the final results.

“50% profit is the best that you will find for a fundraiser!” says Dana. With delicious popcorn, high profitability, and the ultimate convenience, it’s clear that the there is simply no better fundraising program for your school. Learn more about popcorn fundraising with Popcorn Palace and get started today.

Kenwood Academy Brotherhood Fundraiser

13 Jan

When Dr. Shelby T. Wyatt of The Kenwood Academy Brotherhood set out to help his students raise funds to cover the cost of their 2014 Spring Break College Tour, the stakes were high. Airfare to Southern California alone was priced at $350 per ticket, and with 20 participating students, the Brotherhood was left struggling to cover the cost of the trip – estimated at over $750 per student.

The Spring Break College Tour is important, as it allows students who are preparing for graduation the opportunity to visit and preview colleges and universities which they might be interested in attending. Campus tours include meetings with Admissions, Financial Aid, scholarship committees, and the departments which oversee campus life and multi-cultural affairs – an incredible opportunity for students who may not otherwise have the opportunity to connect, in person.

With only four months to raise funds which would cover the significant cost of this trip, the Brotherhood decided to think outside of the box, and began to search for innovative options which might support their fundraising efforts.

“We reached out to Popcorn Palace to give it a try,” said Dr. Wyatt. And, with the help of Popcorn Palace’s fundraising team, the Kenwood Academy Brotherhood was able to achieve their goals.

“The fundraiser was a huge success. Several of the students sold more than they needed to pay for the trip, which helped the other students. One student sold more than $700 worth of popcorn!”

Kenwood Academy

With airfare costs covered, the students were able to visit participating Southern California schools, as scheduled.

When asked what his best suggestion might be, for schools considering using Popcorn Palace for fundraising purposes, Dr. Wyatt emphasized the importance of parent and participant communication. The quality of Popcorn Palace products also helps to keep everyone motivated.

“Our Popcorn Palace fundraiser more than covered the cost of airfare,” said Dr. Wyatt, “and the popcorn was so delicious that we placed a second order – not for fundraising, but because people kept asking if we had extra bags on the side!”

If you have any questions or need information about popcorn fundraising for students, contact Popcorn Palace for more information.

Tips and Tricks For Successful Fundraising

5 Jan

Popcorn Palace Gourmet Popcorn makes fundraising for your school or organization simple – but staying organized can help smooth the way for a truly successful campaign. Make sure your team is ready, by following these helpful tips and tricks!

  1. Communicate. Let your school or organization’s administrators know your plans, and clearly communicate your fundraising goals and plan, in order to gain any necessary approvals. Reaching out to the person in charge of announcements and community outreach is also a great idea – they may be able to help you spread the word to students, parents, or participants.
  2. Gather your team. Go over the information contained in Popcorn Palace’s Fundraising Kit with your team. Make sure that everyone involved understands the process, and is clear about the purpose and goals you’re working to reach.
  3. Create a timeline. You’ll want to decide the following:
  • Customer Delivery Date. When do you plan to deliver orders to customers?
  • Order Delivery Date. Allow yourself a few days after the receipt of your order to organize and distribute your Popcorn Palace Gourmet Popcorn. Remember, your team might have other commitments, scheduling in a little cushion will help keep it low stress for everyone.
  • Fundraising Dates. Outline clear dates for the beginning and end of your fundraiser, and make sure that everyone involved knows when the campaign will end. Short sales periods (under two weeks) are ideal. Also, allow a day or two of grace time, to ensure that you receive orders from every member of your team.
  1. Make a cheat sheet. List sales prices, dates, and other important information, in case your fundraising team needs a little reminder. Preparing helpful responses to frequently asked questions will help you save time, and avoid confusion.
  2. Rehearse the sales pitch. We know that Popcorn Palace products are delicious enough to sell themselves – still, providing your team with a basic sales prompt is empowering (and rehearsing it can help avoid the “deer in the headlights” experience). It will help your team feel more comfortable, and help you boost sales.
  3. Stick to the plan. Following your outlined dates will be critical to your success. It avoids confusion, eliminates lagging orders, and ensures that all of your customers are pleased with their orders.

Remember, staying organized will help ensure that your team stays on the same page – and helps your ensure your fundraiser is a success.

For more information on successful fundraising, contact Popcorn Palace. We can help your school or organization achieve its goals – contact us today, for our helpful fundraising kit!

Smart Snacks in Schools

30 Dec

To build a healthier nation, we first need to build healthy habits in our younger generation. This is the principle behind the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, an initiative which is focused on improving the health of school children, by ensuring that students are offered healthier options for meals and snacks.

This initiative is changing the way our students eat, for the better. Across the U.S., school lunches are now required to include more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Driven by this initiative, the USDA has published the Smart Snacks in School standards – a comprehensive, science-based guide to school nutrition.

The Smart Snacks in School standards will support the improvement of student health, by ensuring that school kids are offered only the most nutritious and delicious foods throughout their day. It outlines strict guidelines for the selection of healthy options, and limits the availability of junk food in the education environment. According to these standards, any food offered for sale in schools must –

  • Be a “whole grain-rich” grain product, or
  • Have as the first ingredient a fruit, a vegetable, a dairy product, or a protein food; or
  • Be a combination food that contains at least 1⁄4 cup of fruit and/or vegetable; or
  • Contain 10% of the Daily Value (DV) of one of the nutrients of public health concern in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (calcium, potassium, vitamin D, or dietary fiber).

Popcorn Palace is proud to meet the USDA’s Smart Snacks in School standards, by offering delicious, healthy, nutritional gourmet snacks which appeal to students and staff alike. Our snack-sized popcorn packs can be sold in the cafeteria or snack bar during school hours, as well as at concession stands, school stores, and extracurricular events.

A healthy experience can also be a heavenly experience! Our student-appropriate options are richly flavored, low-calorie whole grain treats.  Our student-friendly gourmet selections deliver a delightful and healthy snacking experience, while falling below the outlined USDA standards for sugar, fat, and sodium content.

If you’d like to learn more about how the USDA’s Smart Snacks in School program is positively impacting the health of our students, you can read the full standards online, here. (Or, visit http://www.regulations.gov , and search for docket number FNS-2011-0019.)

To find out how Popcorn Palace can support your school’s good health, or to learn about our student-appropriate snack options, contact us today!

Popcorn Garland – A Traditional Holiday Decoration

22 Dec

In early American homes, the holidays were a time to deck the halls – but tree trimmings were often limited to what could be found in the home. Families would gather round the fire, crafting handmade ornaments from nuts, berries, and marzipan – and stringing popcorn into festive garlands, which would later bedeck their mantel and tree.

If you’re interested in carrying on this great American tradition, popcorn garlands are a fun, festive, and timeless holiday decoration, sure to please young and old alike!

These easy tips from Popcorn Palace will help you get into the holiday spirit, and make the crafting fun for everyone.

  1. Pop plain popcorn the day before you intend to make your garlands. Fresh popcorn will crumble, but yesterday’s leftovers are perfect for stringing together.
  2. Use an embroidery needle (or, one with a hole large enough to thread easily).
  3. Use dental floss instead of thread – it’s stronger, and it will pass through your popcorn kernels more easily. Also, don’t cut the floss until you’re done – leaving it on the spool will help keep your kernels from sliding off before you’re finished, and ensure that you have plenty of length.
  4. For a fancier look, alternate sections of popcorn kernels with dried (or raw) cranberries, or raisins.
  5. Hang the garland on the tree before all other decorations, and it will be less likely to tangle or catch.
  6. After the holidays are over, wrap your popcorn garland in tissue paper and seal it in a dry, airtight container to save until next year – or hang it outside, and let the local wildlife share your holiday treat!

Creating these fun and festive decorations is a great way to start a new family tradition. But remember – the hardest part of creating a popcorn garland is not eating your materials! Make sure your decorating team has a healthy snack to tide them over – check out Popcorn Palace’s delicious gourmet flavors, and you’ll find something perfect for the whole family.

Happy Holidays!
Popcorn Palace

Dos and Don’ts of Modern Fundraising

17 Dec

Smaller organizations such as school clubs, fan groups and special interest societies typically have to run at least one or two fundraisers a year to make ends meet. Some organizations simply send out a donation request to their donor mailing list, others host a gala charity event, but groups with a lower profile most commonly sell products like t-shirts or candy or popcorn to their friends, family and the general public to raise funds.

Fundraising Dos

  1. Do get organized, but don’t overdo it. It is important to keep careful track of product inventory and sales, and setting goals and firm deadlines is also a good idea. But you don’t want to have a five-page list of exactly how, what and where the product must be sold. For the most part, it’s best to let people take the initiative and trust them to exercise good judgment in selling the fundraising products.
  2. Do have an online presence. Any size organization can afford to have a website today, and it takes very little time to add a new page to an existing website. It might even be a good idea to have a dedicated website if you are running a larger fundraiser.
  3. Do get everyone involved. It’s also important to get as many people in the organization involved in the fundraiser as possible. This is especially true for school or special interest club organizations where everyone will derive benefit from the proceeds of the fundraiser.
  4. Do offer incentives. Keeping people motivated is always a good idea, and some reasonable and fun incentives (gift cards, free movie passes or night in a local B&B, etc) can create some friendly competition to help drive sales.

Fundraising Don’ts

  1. Don’t use the same fundraising idea over and over again. Both the members of the group doing the fundraising and your buyers/donors get burned out if you sell the same old tee shirts every year. You need to change things up and sell something that people can get really excited about — like more than a dozen varieties of delicious gourmet popcorn from Popcorn Palace.
  2. Don’t rely on the same people to organize the fundraiser every year. It’s just human nature that most people burn out after a couple of years leading fundraisers. Bring in new blood as much as possible to keep your fundraising team motivated and effective.
  3. Don’t forget to thank your volunteers and donors. This might seem obvious, but thanking everyone that participated in your fundraiser takes some organization. You need to have the names and  mailing/email addresses of all your buyers and your volunteers in a database, and somebody will need to spend at least a couple of hours creating mailing list and sending out bulk email thank you messages or, even better, snail-mail thank you notes.

How to Write a Great Direct Mail Fundraising Letter

10 Dec

Even great products don’t sell themselves. You’ve got to get out there and market the product you are selling in your fundraiser. An important part of that process is crafting a persuasive letter to introduce your fundraising campaign and the product you’re selling to raise funds. The product itself significantly colors your fundraising letter — you would probably take a quite different approach to your letter if you were selling raffle tickets for a cruise, for example, than if you were selling premium flavored popcorn.

Personalize Fundraising Letters

Most fundraising experts emphasize the importance of sending all personal correspondence to individuals by name. A personalized letter is much more likely to make the reader actually stop and consider making a purchase. An obvious form letter addressed to “Dear Supporter” may even get tossed in the trash without being opened.

Using Emotion

The best way to convince someone to buy something they don’t really need is to appeal to one or more emotions. Getting an emotional response from a reader makes it much more likely that they will buy the product. Someone who isn’t thinking emotionally is much more likely to say why should I buy an expensive fundraiser fruit basket when I can get almost as good fruit at the store for a third of the cost?

Your letter needs to make the reader feel like he or she is part of a bigger cause and is truly making the world a better place by their participation in your fundraiser. Everyone wants to think of themselves as generous, kind, and noble. So you want to play up that theme in your letter with something like: “I’m so glad we are lucky enough to have generous friends like you.”

Strong Attention-grabbing Intro

Another essential part of a truly effective direct mail fundraising letter is a powerful intro that grabs the attention of the reader and leads her into the critical pitch in the body of the letter. Depending on your organization, the product you’re selling and the tone of your letter, you might even consider starting the letter with a catchy headline followed by the greeting. You definitely need a strong first sentence to “hook” the reader: “Did you know that funding for music programs in Houston schools has been cut by 75% over the last five years? All of the profits from the sales of Popcorn Palace’s delicious gourmet popcorn in this fundraising campaign go directly to the music program at Beechlawn Middle School.”

Supporting Education – One Student’s Story of Success

4 Dec

A photo of Theda Robinson's son, in his new school uniform.

A photo of Theda Robinson’s son, in his new school uniform.

When Theda Robinson and her husband were looking for options to help fund their son’s Christian school education, they turned to the internet for fundraising resources. That’s how they connected with Popcorn Palace. Popcorn Palace offers more than twenty flavors of gourmet popcorn – and sponsors a fundraising program designed to help individuals and grassroots organizations raise support for their efforts.

“I am very happy that I found Popcorn Palace on-line, when I was looking for fundraiser ideas. I was really pleased when I picked up my order,” said Robinson. “We have received a lot of positive feedback!”

Finding donations to cover the rising cost of education can be difficult, which is why Popcorn Palace goes over and above to reduce the burden on schools and parents. There are no up front costs, all products are presorted by participant and delivered via UPS, and best of all – fundraisers keep 50% of the proceeds on each item sold. Popcorn Palace makes it easy for parents and schools to organize their efforts, and raise the money they need, quickly.

It was easy for the Robinsons to begin their son’s popcorn fundraiser – they simply requested Popcorn Palace’s free information kit, which included all of the information they needed to get started.

The Robinsons chose to keep it simple, focusing their fundraising efforts on their local community. “My husband and I took the brochure to work,” Robinson said. “My son took it to school, and a Wednesday night prayer meeting.”

With the support of the friendly and helpful Popcorn Palace fundraising team, and delicious free samples, Popcorn Palace’s products virtually sell themselves. The Robinsons had an excellent fundraising experience – and they easily reached their goals.

The family sold plenty of popcorn, raising more than $1200 for their son’s tuition – in under two weeks. The Robinsons found their friends and family were very willing to show their support.

“It seems everyone likes popcorn!” said Theda Robinson. “It was perfect. My family and I want to thank you for giving us the opportunity to raise money for my son’s education.”

First Thanksgiving Dinner Popcorn Myth

6 Nov

Most Americans associate Thanksgiving with popcorn. However, it turns out that the long-held belief that Squanto and the other Wampanoag Indian visitors brought popcorn to the first Thanksgiving dinner in Plymouth is just a myth. That said, historians are quite sure that roasted corn was one of the items on the first Thanksgiving dinner menu.

Popcorn Not Eaten in Atlantic Northeast Area

Urban myths that resonate deeply with a cultural psyche are difficult to discredit, and that seems to be the case with the long-standing myth regarding Native Americans bringing a basket of popcorn to the first Thanksgiving dinner.

Archeologists have thoroughly debunked this myth, but many (if not most) Americans continue to believe it. It’s not really all that surprising though, given nearly all Americans were taught some variation of this fact back in elementary and middle school.

The facts are, however, that the type of corn the Wampanoag Indians in the Massachusetts and Virginia area  grew was related to the Northern Flint variety that does not pop (relatively few varieties of popcorn have enough water to pop explosively and form popcorn).  Furthermore, according to James W. Baker, vice president and chief historian for Plimoth Plantation, no signs of popcorn have ever been uncovered in archaeological excavations in the area.

National Myth About Popcorn at First Thanksgiving Dinner Created in 1880s

The myth of popcorn at the first Thanksgiving dinner table was part of the Manifest Destiny frenzy that defined mid-19th century U.S. history.  Well-known food historian Andrew F. Smith says the Pilgrims-and-popcorn myth dates all the way back to the 1880s. This historical period saw many immigrants arriving in the country, and a number of national myths were created by stories in magazines and newspapers (and even school textbooks) to help Americanize all the newcomers.

Smith notes that popcorn was especially popular during this period. “Popcorn was sold in grocery stores, popped at fairs, and peddled at sporting events.” Other scholars also note that references to popcorn become more common in the mid-19th century. The first known popcorn poem appeared in Harper’s Magazine in 1853.

By the late 1860s popular had evolved into an important agricultural commodity. Advertisements from the era offer popcorn gifts and popcorn for sale as a novelty item. Of note, local varieties of corn must not have popped well, because an ad from popcorn entrepreneur J. A. Hathaway noted his popcorn had been imported from Brazil and then grown and acclimated in Cincinnati for two years.

We hope you’ve enjoyed a little history of popcorn. If you are interested in more information about Popcorn Palace in general, please visit our homepage here or fill out the form below.

Using the Internet and Social Media to Leverage Your Fundraiser

30 Oct

Technology has changed the fundraising landscape. You used to think you were doing pretty good with marketing if you posted a couple of dozen flyers and ran an ad in your local newspaper about this year’s gourmet popcorn fundraiser for the school football team.

Not anymore. Today, effective marketing of a fundraiser largely revolves around digital media. Sure you want to have some color glossy brochures of your products to show your customers, but virtually all the rest of your marketing activities today are online. You need to set up a website and fill it with top quality, focused content. SEO isn’t really an issue, as most visitors are going to get to you via a link. Then after your website is set up you can get serious about your social media marketing campaign.

The Power of Social Media

Facebook is about more than Likes and Twitter can also give your fundraising campaign a big boost. Step one in your social media marketing campaign is prominently featuring the fundraising campaign on your Facebook page, and getting your friends and family members to do the same. If it’s a major fundraiser, you might consider putting in the effort to give the fundraiser its own Facebook Cause page.

You should also take advantage of other social media tools such as Twitter and YouTube.  You don’t want to bombard your network with over-frequent tweets on the subject, but a tweet announcing the start of the fundraising campaign and an update every few days on progress, goals met, etc. is appropriate. Sending out a mass email with a link to the fundraiser website to all of the contacts on your mailing list is another tried and true marketing method.

Popcorn Palace Can Help with Fundraiser Marketing

Popcorn Palace is a premier provider of gourmet popcorn for all kinds of fundraisers. We offer over a dozen varieties of delicious popcorn in a range of sizes and packages. Best of all, with Popcorn Palace there are no upfront costs and you make 50% profit on each item sold. All products are delivered by UPS and are presorted by participant.

You can also get useful tips on organizing your fundraiser from Popcorn Palace.  Our useful Fundraising Information Kit can be ordered online from our website, and this handy guide tells you everything you need to know to run a successful popcorn fundraiser. We can also send you a form if you fill out the form below.


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