Rally Kids to the Cause – Fundraising Tips

27 Feb

With the Great Recession stretching school budgets everywhere, finding financial support for school trips, student clubs, and extracurricular activities can be a bit tricky. To help your cause gain momentum, it’s essential to rally the support of your community – which means motivating students to get the word out about your fundraiser!

So, how do you get your fundraising materials out of student backpacks, and into the hands of community members? First, you’ve got to get students excited to act as community ambassadors, by motivating them to rally for the cause. These time-tested strategies will help you inspire your youngsters to share the vision – and put the FUN back in fundraising!

  1. Set the stage. Make sure your fundraising team is on the same page. What will the funds you raise be used for? Let your students in on the mission, and clearly outline goals, so they understand the importance of their participation.
  2. Make the incentives sweet. The success or failure of your fundraising campaign is largely determined by the enthusiasm of your students – so give them something to strive for. This doesn’t necessarily mean offering expensive, large-ticket items – incentives can also be non-tangible rewards (such as a teacher or principal’s commitment to dye their hair in the school colors, or special privileges for the highest-participating class). Popcorn Palace’s snack-sized bags can also make great student handouts – talk to your fundraising advisor about including these items in your campaign order.
  3. Provide instant gratification. The more giveaways, the merrier – by offering numerous small, obtainable incentives, you’ll keep the kids motivated to succeed. Distributing prizes while the fundraiser is still in effect will also keep the kids’ attention on your campaign – ensuring ongoing participation.
  4. Inspire confident pitches. Make sure your students know how to talk to their community about their fundraising goals. Provide your students with strategic coaching, and eliminate front-door nerves by practicing your school’s fundraising message.
  5. Embrace social media. Get teachers, parents, and older students on board by encouraging them to share fundraising updates via social media. Provide examples of appropriate photos and messages, and ask them to repost, share, and digitally document their own fundraising experience.
  6. Keep it FUN. Fundraising doesn’t have to be a chore! Keep the experience fun and engaging for everyone involved, and you’ll drive ongoing participation. And, launching or closing out your fundraiser with a great community-oriented event is an excellent way to give your campaign a boost. Throw your community an event to remember, and you may find that stories of their involvement outlive the campaign, itself.

Involving your students in fundraising can provide them with the opportunity to learn real-world skills, hone their math and organizational abilities, and learn valuable lessons surrounding personal responsibility and community involvement. It also provides them with a sense of ownership regarding your school’s efforts – and may inspire them to be more involved, in future!

For more fundraising tips and tricks for turning your fundraiser into a FUN-raiser, contact the Popcorn Palace team today!

 

Popcorn Palace’s Favorite Popcorn Folktales

18 Feb

In Native American folklore, some tribes believed that each kernel of corn housed a tiny spirit, whose only desire was to live in quiet and contentment. When the houses of these spirits became too warm, the spirits would grow angry, and begin to shake their kernels. When the heat grew unbearable, these spirits would leap from their homes, transforming into a puff of steam which would carry them elsewhere.

The cultural stories and folklore surrounding popcorn are just as interesting as popcorn, itself – and, just as popcorn has traveled alongside humanity for quite some time, many of these stories have been around for a while.

At Popcorn Palace, our love of all things popcorn extends to the cultural history and folktales of this delicious and nutritious snack. Here are some of our favorite stories, on our favorite topic. We hope you’ll enjoy them, alongside one of our delectable gourmet treats.

The Popcorn Book by Tomie DePaola

In this classic favorite, a group of kids get together for a lively popcorn-making adventure. As the story unfolds, so does a lesson on the history of popcorn, itself. The author also shares fun scientific facts about popcorn, including what makes popcorn pop, and other details.

The Purloined Corn Popper: A Felicity Snell Mystery by E.W. Hildick

In this children’s mystery, the family corn popper goes missing. At his mother’s suggestion, Tim requests assistance from Felicity Snell, the town’s new librarian (who is also a former undercover agent) – and the help of a team of neighborhood kids.

McBroom Tells a Lie (The Adventures of Mcbroom) by Sid Fleischman
Farmer McBroom and his family own the best farm around – a magical place, where things grow faster than anywhere else. In this story, they save their farm from a conniving neighbor who wants to claim their land for himself – through the use of a Popcornmobile, frozen sunlight, and lightning bugs.

Mr Picklepaw’s Popcorn by Ruth Adams
When Mr. Picklepaw climbs to the roof of an overheated storage shed, the kernels inside explode into a mountain of popcorn, leaving him stranded at the top. Mr. Picklepaw faces the challenge of removing himself from this predicament – but not before the townspeople feast on his misfortune.

People of Corn: A Mayan Story by Mary-Joan Gerson

For the Mayans, each corn crop is welcomed as a miracle, and harvested with gratitude, and celebration. Beginning with the importance of corn in Mayan history and culture, this folktale tells how the Mayan gods strove to create the people of corn, in hopes that they would remember and honor their creators.

At Popcorn Palace, we believe in creating tales of community and connection through the sharing of delicious, nutritious treats. For more information on fun popcorn fundraising for your organization, visit Popcorn Palace.

 

Science Club Pop-Science Showcase & FUNdraiser

11 Feb

Raising funds for your school’s science club shouldn’t leave you feeling like a failed experiment. By hosting a Popcorn Palace Pop-Science FUNdraiser, you’ll engage and entertain supporters, and boost your popcorn sales.

Popcorn has some amazing and fascinating features – and you can apply your scientific knowledge and skills to create an interesting, interactive popcorn showcase. The unveiling of your showcase can be timed to correspond with your fundraising launch – and help you gain interest and momentum when gathering support for your science club. If each student completes one experiment or scientific presentation, you can charge a nominal fee for entrance to your showcase, as well as offering delicious Popcorn Palace samples, and treats for order or purchase.

To start, you’ll need a “research” team, and access to the school lab. With a little supervision, and some careful planning, your team can execute these easy experiments (and many more!) which reveal some of the fascinating truths and facts about popcorn.

  • Which kernels pop better – white or yellow? In this experiment, your team will form a hypothesis and conduct research which uses the scientific method to prove which kernels perform the best, under pressure.
  • What makes popcorn pop? This series of experiments is designed to answer the age-old mystery, by using unique controls to reveal the qualities and conditions which combine to turn regular ‘ole kernels into a delicious, homemade treat!
  • Which stovetop technique works best? When making popcorn on the stove, many debate about the benefits of popping with cold oil, versus preheated oil. This experiment is designed to compare the two techniques, and reveal which is more efficient.
  • Which popcorn tastes best? Though this may seem to some to be a matter of opinion, every person has their preference – and gathering information scientifically from many participants can provide you with helpful statistics regarding your subject. Use these guidelines to create a blind taste-test, and let your audience sample Popcorn Palace’s gourmet flavors, to find their favorite!
  • Where does popcorn come from? This research experiment will help you create a geographical display of the United States, which shows the most popular places to cultivate and harvest popcorn.
  • How long has popcorn been around? This research experiment is designed to create a chronological timeline, which showcases your team’s historical knowledge of popcorn.
  • Compare/Contrast. This research project should showcase the nutritional content of popcorn, side-by-side with other common snacks, such as potato chips. By providing this information, your team will allow your audience to come to their own scientific conclusions.

Remember – the key to good fundraising is to make your POPScience Showcase interesting and fun for your audience. The key is to get creative! An air-popping station which allows kids to participate in popcorn “research”, a guessing game which uses a jar filled with kernels, or a popcorn trivia game – all of these are great ideas which can help you turn your fundraiser into a FUNraiser. You might also consider offering Popcorn Palace samples as door or raffle prizes – inspiring additional sales to happy snackers.

You’ll find it simple to raise funds for your school’s science club, by doing what you do best – experimenting! And an interactive POPScience showcase will not only show supporters what your science club is all about – it will also encourage them to enjoy healthy, high-quality treats, and have a little wholesome fun.

For more information on how your school or organization can use Popcorn Palace’s delicious, gourmet popcorn to make your fundraiser successful, contact our team, today!

Ten Treats for Healthy Superbowl Snacking

30 Jan

Across the nation, friends and family alike are preparing to gather together in celebration of one of America’s greatest pastimes- football. That’s right – it’s SuperBowl season, once more! And, while the Superbowl offers an excellent opportunity to join loved ones for a much-needed day of fun and festivity, a full day of tailgating and junk-food snacking can leave everyone feeling the post-game slump.

According to the U.S. Calorie Control Council, the average Super Bowl watcher will scarf down more than 1,200 calories (and 50 grams of fat!) during game-time snacking – more than half of the average recommended daily caloric intake. Together, the CCC estimates that Americans will consume more than 30 million pounds of snacks on game day – including 19 million pounds of high-fat potato and tortilla chips.

At Popcorn Palace, we believe that a great snack should be both delicious and nutritious. Which is why we’ve compiled this handy guide to healthy Superbowl snacks, which will still tickle your tastebuds.

  • Lemon-Spiked Baked Wings – These delicious spiked chicken wings are perfect for tailgating – and since they are marinated in tangy sauce and baked (not fried), they offer a perfect low-calorie alternative to heavier snacks.
  • Fruit Kabobs with Yogurt Dip – Simple, colorful fruit skewers will add color to your Superbowl Sunday, and are sure to be a hit with young and old, alike. Offer them up with a drizzle of honey, and their own yogurt “dip” for a fresh and nourishing snack.
  • Loaded Sweet Potato Skins – Need a sweet and savory treat? These loaded skins morph an unhealthy favorite into a feel-good Superbowl snack. Top these off with some extra veggies, or substitute goat cheese for cheddar, and you’ll sneak in an additional nutritional boost!
  • Delicious Brocc-a-mole – While we don’t expect anyone to do away with the chips and dips altogether, this delicious brocc-a-mole dip will up your health-food game. This low-calorie, guilt-free dip comes loaded with all-natural vitamin C – and offers a fun and fresh alternative to traditional dips, which tend to be loaded with unhealthy fats and additives.
  • Gourmet Popcorn – Need a salty, sweet, or savory fix, without all the extra complications? Gourmet popcorn serves up a real win! Nutritious, delicious, and low-calorie – popcorn is nature’s perfect snack food. And, with this versatile treat, your flavor options are endless!
  • Zucchini Fries – Toss the traditional potatoes – these zucchini fries will score some serious fans. And, by substituting spuds with this greener alternative, you’ll give your guests a healthy boost of manganese and vitamin C. Plus, these baked goodies go great with any of our dips – a double-win!
  • Spinach and Artichoke Dip Traditional spinach dips are full of high-fat dairy products – a real no-no for anyone trying to cut back on calories. This dip, however, gets its creamy texture from white beans – a tasty, protein-rich alternative. And, spinach greens are rich in flavenoids, calcium, and vitamin D – so this leafy dip packs a real nutritional punch.
  • Hummus with Sun-Dried Tomatoes – Store-bought hummus is great, but this delicious home-made treat is a quick, colorful, and nutrient-rich alternative – packed with riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, and folate. Serve it up with slices of whole-wheat pita, veggie sticks, or those fantastic zucchini fries, and you’ve got a fresh, new favorite at the tips of your fingers!
  • Strawberry Footballs – No game day would be complete without a little something sweet… and these football-themed treats really take the cake! These simple chocolate-dipped strawberries are sure to score with guests – and satisfy even the most sensitive sweet tooth – while providing a boost of vitamin C and antioxidants.

Make this Superbowl Sunday a real win – by feeding your friends and family the foods that support their good health!

For more information on healthy snacking, read more on the Popcorn Palace blog!

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 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.
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