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.

Popcorn Palace Testimonial – Bethany the baseball mom

27 Oct

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Bethany Valle holds many titles. One of those included baseball mom – a “job” she held when first working with Popcorn Palace.

“The first organization that I used Popcorn Palace for fundraising was my sons little league team,” Bethany said. “We were trying to raise funds for an end of the year celebration and a gift for the coach. We succeeded in raising close to $300.”

Because of the success with the baseball team, Bethany started using Popcorn Palace to raise funds for a yearly one-week trip to Kennedy Space Center Space Camp for gifted students. Now that she has been using Popcorn Palace for years, she boasts having return customers that look forward to “that time of year”: Popcorn season.

“I will continue to use Popcorn Palace as long as there is a need for a fundraiser,” Bethany said. “I always find something to order! Everything is so good!”

The best thing about Popcorn Palace, Bethany said, is that it is easy to sell a product that is good.

“The product received is always in good condition,” Bethany said. “Nothing has ever been bad. The entire process is very easy and fast. With Popcorn Palace, there always seems to be a flavor that people like.”

With Popcorn Palace also providing samples, Bethany also swears that this is what makes selling with Popcorn Palace so easy. She received them her first year and then requested them again for the second-time around with the next fundraiser.

“I set up a table at my job with the sample bags and made more sales that afternoon in 10 minutes than I had the previous 3 days because now, they could taste how good it was,” Bethany said.

In the end, Bethany and her fundraising opportunity achieved its goals and made for a satisfied repeat customer.

“I believe it is priced just right,” Bethany said. “We are able to make a little extra money to help with the trips and everyone is asking for more in the end. It could almost be a second job for me!”

Don’t delay your fundraising any longer. Start fundraising with Popcorn Palace today.

Popcorn Palace Testimonial – Keith and the school supplies drive

20 Oct

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Keith Jefferson and his lodge members used Popcorn Palace fundraising to help provide children heading back-to-school with school supplies for the new school year. They had such enormous success, they even donated extra funds to Breast Cancer Awareness.

 

“I’m a Prince Hall Mason and my lodge used this fundraiser to raise funds for school supplies for local children in our area as well as donate a portion to Breast Cancer Awareness. Popcorn Palace has helped us achieve our goals through this fantastic fundraiser.

We like the 50/50 concept, we will use this fundraiser over and over and over again.

Every time we let people in the community know that we are about to do our fundraiser again with Popcorn Palace, we get a massive response.

The variety of popcorn that is offered is perfect; you can even make your own tin – customized with up to three different types of popcorn.

This fundraiser was the best of all fundraisers that we have done because you see the profits right away – no waiting, no cashing a check, no hassle with the company and everything works out for the best. All I can say is keep up the good work and keep making people happy [Popcorn Palace].”

 

Take your fundraising to the next level. Start fundraising with Popcorn Palace today.

Fall Football Fundraisers

17 Oct

Fall is both the start of football season and the beginning of a new school year, which also makes it the perfect time to put together a fall football fundraiser. Everybody wants to support their school football team, and it’s common knowledge that the expenses of organizing a football team continue to increase every year.

Schools of all types and sizes (including middle schools, high schools and community colleges) can put on a successful fall football fundraiser. Perhaps the most important decision in holding a successful fundraiser is picking the right fundraiser. Do you want to sell a product, hold an event, or offer some type of service like a car wash?

Events frequently mean high upfront costs, which you might or might not recoup. However, they can be fun, raise significant donations, and boost awareness of your team. Services mean significantly less upfront costs than events, but you do have to juggle date scheduling and find volunteers willing to donate a large amount of time and energy. A product based fundraiser can raise significant amount of money, and you can pick the right product and company to work with, so you avoid upfront costs or a minimum obligation.

If you decide that a product-based fundraiser is the right fundraiser for you, you still face a bewildering array of fundraising product choices – candy, fruit, meats and cheeses, gourmet popcorn, magazine subscriptions, clothing, toys and games — so how do you choose the right product for your fundraiser?

Popcorn Is the Perfect Choice

Gourmet popcorn is an ideal choice for a football fundraiser. Almost everybody loves popcorn, so it’s a great seller. Popcorn also ships and stores well, and best of all, it’s healthy and tastes great! You can buy the products for your popcorn fundraiser from a number of different manufacturers, but Popcorn Palace has years of experience making fundraising easy, profitable, and tasty.

If you want to schedule your fundraiser around a fall holiday, Popcorn Palace has got you covered with delicious flavors, savory and sweet, to help you celebrate.

Low Cost, High Profit, Guaranteed Delivery

Popcorn Palace’s fundraising program allows you to organize a no upfront cost, high profit football fundraiser for your organization, and provides guaranteed delivery of your gourmet popcorn via UPS. Note that there is no minimum order and your organization makes 50% profit on every sale. You can even track your shipment online as soon as it leaves our Illinois production facility.

You can learn more about our fundraising program on the Popcorn Palace website, and order your free fundraising information kit to learn how to get started today.

Popcorn Palace Testimonial – Jackie the sports mom

13 Oct

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Jackie Cunningham wore many hats: mom, baseball fan, football fanatic, and involved parent for her children’s school PTA. When looking for a fundraiser, she found Popcorn Palace and had so much success with them one time that she kept on going back. Here is her story:

 

“I worked with Popcorn Palace on three separate occasions – all for the same school. Once was for our little league baseball team, another our middle school, and finally our little league football team. In each fundraiser, we raised about $4,000.

Each team posed a different problem requiring a different solution. For instance, we were raising funds for the baseball team to go to Cooperstown to play the final game of the season while the football team was in need of new equipment. What worked well for us was the popcorn could cover each of our unique teams fundraising needs while practically selling itself. We were able to take our baseball team to Cooperstown and buy all new shoulder pads for the boys football team of 136 players.

What was great about a fundraiser like Popcorn Palace was you didn’t have to beg people to buy it. People will actually ask me when will our teams be selling popcorn again. That was nice, and people wanted it. So you knew it would continue to be profitable in years to come.

The people at Popcorn Palace made working with them an even easier decision in our hunt for a fundraising opportunity. They were very personal even when I had to call about several order issues. They would fix it right away without an issue. If I had to add an extra order, not a problem. If I had an issue in my online ordering, it would be fixed as soon as possible. You want that kind of customer service with a company. I always talked to a real person who helped me every step of the way.

Plus, Popcorn Palace saves you time. Everything comes boxed individually, which is a big bonus for working moms. It takes the guesswork out of everything. When everyone sold fundraising items in the past, we would have had to sort out orders for hundred of kids. Popcorn Palace makes it really simple by doing all of this for you before it gets to the school

Fundraising with Popcorn Palace is a great opportunity. They give 50 percent for your fundraiser proceeds to your organization; it is a no brainer. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t choose to do it! That is amazing. And that it comes fast, they give you everything you need – from envelope to boxes. They even give you samples. Kids love it, parents love it… it’s awesome.”

 

Take advantage of the opportunity to start raising funds for your organization. Start fundraising with Popcorn Palace today.

Popcorn Palace Testimonial – Sharon the Fine Arts supporter

6 Oct

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Sharon wanted to reach out to her local community, but first she needed the funds. After using Popcorn Palace for two years, she has become a repeat and satisfied customer.

 

“My name is Sharon. My position is Director of Community Outreach at Catalyst Circle Rock – a Kindergarten through 8th grade charter school in Chicago, IL.

I needed funds to help support our Fine Arts activities at the school and also to give our scholars incentive parties and treats. I also wanted to use the funds raised to help with parent incentives and parties.

I heard about Popcorn Palace from my daughter who works at one of our campuses. She read about the organization and thought that she might use it because it sounded like a good deal. So I tried it…

What I liked best about Popcorn Palace is the delivery is on time and the order comes back individually packaged with each students name on the box and what is in the box; this makes for very easy distribution. This feature is the reason that I would choose Popcorn Palace again and again. I don’t have to get extra help in sorting the items – you can’t always get enough help because parents are either working or busy with other children.

It was relatively easy for me to sell the popcorn to my parents and students. I also give incentive prizes for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place top sellers and that is a big hit with my families.

I have used Popcorn Palace for two years now and both times I have met my goals of $4,000.00. I would most certainly use Popcorn Palace in the future, as it is an easy way to make money for my school. The pictures on the brochures and forms make you really hungry and you can taste the popcorn before you get it. The scholars, parents, and customers love it!”

 

Interested in funding your next project through the help of a fun and creative fundraiser? Start fundraising today with Popcorn Palace.

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