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October’s "Pictures are Worth a Thou$and Dollars" Winner: Fairmont Music

7 Nov
Stacey Barta was hired in 2006 to develop a competitive music program for Fairmont Preparatory Academy. During her tenure, she started a concert band, concert choir, show choir, pep band, musical theater and a faculty dance team.
Despite being only 6 years old, the program has competed and earned many personal awards-1st place trophies, national rankings of gold and silver, and many other top honors. The program is extremely diverse with students from the United States, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, and China. Invitations have taken the team to places such as San Francisco, New York, Hawaii and now London.
The organization is working aggressively towards the goal of raising $180,000 this year so they can perform at the London Festival of Music in April 2012. This is an inaugural event and they are hoping to upgrade their status from “National Champions” to “International Champions.”
“Our biggest challenge every year is money. We do not receive financial support from our school beyond classroom necessities, so it is up to the students to raise money for their uniforms and competition costs which costs from $1,500 to $3,000 each year depending on where we are going for competition,” says Stacey.
“We raise a large portion of our funds from aggressive fundraising throughout the year. With so many challenges on an annual basis such as lack of instrumentation, lack of funding, and being a small program, I teach my students the most important thing of all for success – No Excuses!”
To see more videos and photos, visit Fairmont Music’s Facebook page at or their website at

Timing is Everything

7 Nov
When planning your fundraiser, the first question to ask is “when?” Timing is very important and depending on the kind of fundraiser you want to hold, certain times of the year of the year are better than others.

When planning the timing of your fundraiser, take the following into consideration:

·Make sure you do not plan your event on a big social or religious holiday or compete with an existing local event. Don’t forget that final exam week is not an ideal time either.
·Take a close look at product delivery times, especially if you are having your fundraiser around the holiday season. Add some cushion just in case shipping is delayed due to weather and other causes beyond the fundraising company’s control.
·Avoid timing your fundraiser right after the winter holidays, when everyone is strapped for cash.
·Plan your fundraiser when you can reach the most potential consumers, so winter, spring or summer breaks are usually out. You also want to be sure that you’ll have plenty of volunteers on hand to help.
·Your product may determine when you will have the fundraiser. For example, you don’t want to sell chocolate in the summer months.

Don’t forget that your fundraising start/end dates affecs other areas:


·Announcement Date: Be courteous to everyone involved by giving an advance notice. The earlier, the better, so that they can mark their calendars.
·Marketing/Promotion: Your marketing needs will vary depending upon the fundraising type. Do you need the school’s approval to announce the fundraiser in the school marquee, perhaps need time for flyers to be created and printed, or need some time to create a website?
·Recruitment: Remember that the early bird gets the volunteer hours.

Your fundraiser will be successful if it is well-planned and well-attended: timing is key!

Holiday Bowl Cheer!

7 Nov

For over 15 years, Dream Dancers Studio has been offering dance classes from tap to tumbling. Their goal is to help build confidence, skill and an appreciation for the art of dance. The dancer’s hard work paid off as the competitive dance team was invited to perform in the Orange Bowl in Miami, FL.
The dance team was very excited about the opportunity as this was a big deal to a small group of kids from Montana and they were the first team from the state to perform in a bowl game! Naturally the team was very proud to represent their state.
Fundraising coordinator Heidi Lamoreaux said, “We were looking for any fundraiser to do to help us achieve our goal. Your product looked amazing so we thought we would give it a try. We all made great money doing your fundraiser and will do it again because after people tried your product they told us to come back and they would buy more!!”
Heidi’s team has been invited back to do another bowl game and will be flying to San Diego, CA on December 25th for the Holiday Bowl!
“We have done your fundraiser again already. It has really helped us reach our goal. We will do it again in the future to raise money for our dance competitions since so many people we delivered to loved your product. THANK YOU!!”
For more information about Dream Dancers Studio, visit

Passing the Torch

6 Oct

It’s a common occurrence. One day you have a key point person in your organization and the next day he/she is gone and the organization is left scrambling trying to pick up the pieces. If you’ve ever been unlucky enough to take the helm of a group or its fundraiser with no preparation, no records, and no help, you know how important smooth leadership transitions are.

Find Your Replacement

• Recruit potentials actively! This will give you time to test the
waters to see how much the person can handle and quickly learn

• If your organization does not have a structured team in place, make sure you have a back-up in place even if it’s a family member

Train Your Replacement

• Invite successor to attend any ‘wrap-up’ meetings for current fundraisers. This allows the person to be involved in discussions pertaining to successes, improvements, and issues

• Assign a task that is important, such as recording and tallying sales or distributing orders to get their feet wet. Ideally go through a dry run so they are prepared for their upcoming role

Keep Good Records

• Include essential information and responsibilities which can serve as a check off list. Items can include an event calendar, guideline outlining each step of the fundraising process from beginning to end, and past fundraising sales figures

• Keep an address book of contacts that the new coordinator can use as resource

Be Courteous

• Alert your preferred vendors of the coordinator change

• Introduce the incoming coordinator to key contacts as often as you can, even if it’s via email or phone



Fundraising with a Computer

14 Sep
The computer has allowed all types of organizations to elevate traditional marketing approaches and keep organizations on top of minds among donors, volunteers and the community, before, during and after our event.Best of all, many tools are free or require low investment. Whatever you choose, make sure that people stay connected to the organization throughout the year.


    • Post reminders onyour Facebook page. Or create a separate Facebook business page dedicated to your event. Upload photos, post videos, and network!
    • Choose a Twitter hashtag for your fundraiser or event. Use the hashtag to keep followers informed about how much money was raised, announce order pick up dates, recruit volunteers, etc
    • Create a Facebook poll or survey. You never know what kind of interesting information you can discover!

Web Page

  • Show what your organization does. The stories most likely to inspire action are those that leave feelings or create images in the audience’s mind. Illustrate the benefits your organization provides to the community.
  • Create a blog using Google’s Blogger (it’s free). Have your volunteers, teachers,participants contribute an article pertaining to the fundraising experience.


  • Keep an email contact list (an excel sheet will do!) up to date based upon purchase date & item purchased. This way you can segment your email list and tailor your messages.
  • Email a “Save a Date” for your fundraiser. This allows your recipient to save some funds for your fundraiser and share the information with their social networks. You may receive extra orders!
  • Send a personalized “Thank You” email. Remember this is a bridge to future support. Don’t forget to include a link to your organization’s page!

Fundraising 101: Choosing the Right Fundraising Program

6 May
Once you’ve made the decision to start a fundraiser, there are many questions to consider, but the most important is which program is best for your organization. It’s the first decision that needs to be made as many details depend upon the program that you select. There are three main types of fundraisers to choose from, including: pledges and donations, product fundraisers and event fundraisers.
With pledges and donations, you will ask potential donors for support through monetary or product contributions. In order to gain the support of donors, your organization could contact businesses, ask for help from friends and family members, or go door-to-door.
A product fundraiser is when you sell products that you purchase from a reputable supplier. There are many great fundraising companies that will provide you with information about their products and fundraising program if you contact them. Keep in mind that product fundraisers have different sales approaches, such as direct sales, order programs and online programs. A good idea is to determine which program and sales method would be most profitable for your participants.
Finally, an event fundraiser is an opportunity for the members of your organization to collectively offer a product, service or occasion where profits are raised at that very moment. Event fundraisers can include: bake sales, car washes, walk-a-thons, dances and so much more.
While considering the many fundraising programs that are available, assess how many participants you have and which programs they would be willing to try. Also, judge whether or not your group wishes to conduct a one day event or are committed to a program that will run for a week or more. And of course, consider which program will help you earn the profits your organization is looking to raise.

Hurdling to Success

6 May

Disillusioned by many years of bad fundraising experiences, Matt Weldon was tired of watching his athletes put time and effort into fundraising programs where they reaped very few of the profits and benefits.

As the head boys track coach of Elmwood Park High School, Matt was looking for a new way to earn money for his athletes, but he was cautious and more than a little skeptical. His luck changed when the mother of one of his athletes, who worked for Popcorn Palace at the time, suggested the popcorn fundraiser.

Deciding to give it a try, Matt now has a much different opinion of fundraising programs. Between the money his organization has raised and the customer service that they have received, Matt now calls his fundraising experience “triumphant”. After 4 years with Popcorn Palace Matt says:

“We use Popcorn Palace because of the return that the selling brings in. Not only do we earn a fair share of the profits, but the quality of the product literally sells itself. I often get asked before the season starts if we are doing popcorn again because people can’t wait to order it”.
Though the athlete who recommended popcorn fundraising has long since graduated, Matt and his organization continue to work with Popcorn Palace and plan to do so in the future.

Radio Popcorn!

25 Mar

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Popcorn Palace team member, Fran Cockrell, recently made two stops to promote our gourmet popcorn on the radio. 

On Heartbeat Radio For Women, Fran explained the different kinds of popcorn and when asked about the origin of the Popcorn Palace concept, said, “We know that popcorn is an excellent, wholesome treat that we wanted to make better and kick it up a notch!” 

Fran also explains the Popcorn Palace fundraising program “We’re helping organizations around the nation raise funds for their trips or computers or what ever it is. We do fundraisers for all sorts of organizations.

On the Joan Hamburg ShowFran explains that, “We’re able to satisfy so many different people’s snack needs and have expanded our flavor line to 33 flavors.” Fran also notes that Cheddar Cheese continues to be the consumer favorite.

When asked about the production facility in Illinoise, Fran tells Joan how Popcorn Palace hand-makes each order as it comes in, eliminating the need for the standard storage facilities and conveyer belts you would expect to see in a snack production plant. JoanHamburg Audio by Popcorn Palace

Fundraising 101: Finding the Right Company

4 Mar

Coordinating a fundraising is a very generous commitment that demands time and energy. To get the most out of the experience and to maximize your success, choose a company that best matches your organization’s needs and goals.

There are many wonderful fundraising programs available to organizations, and the key is determining what type of product your group wishes to sell and how you will approach selling those products. You might want to begin by taking inventory so you can determine your group’s objectives and how much money you would like to raise. The number of participants in your organization and the number of helpers may influence the type of fundraiser you wish to pursue. Also important is whether your group has the funds to use a program that requires money up front or would rather pursue a program with no up-front costs.

A great place to start your research is the internet, which is an easy way to search for fundraising ideas and programs. When you find some that interest you and seem to be good matches for your group, you can contact the companies directly for more information regarding their specific programs. Many companies will even send samples or information kits that you can present to other member’s of your group.

Here are some questions to consider while you are researching fundraising programs and contacting companies:

  1. What is the profit margin?
  2. Is this program a direct sales, order form or online sales opportunity?
  3. Are there ordering minimums?
  4. Are there any up-front costs?
  5. Does the company provide incentive programs?
  6. Will the company charge for order forms or samples?
  7. Are there any discounts based upon group or order size?
  8. Does the product require refrigeration?
  9. How does the product ship and are there shipping costs?
  10. How is the company’s customer service? Did you have a good experience with the initial conversation?
  11. Does the fundraising company provide attractive and useful marketing materials?
  12. Does this product appeal to a specific type of customer or is there a broad range of possible clients?

Once you have collected information about possible fundraising options, consider your experience with the companies you contacted. This initial contact could be a clue as to what working with this company will be like later on. In the end, select the program that best suits your organization and its goals, which will make for a profitable and enjoyable experience.

Running circles around Cancer

17 Feb
“You can raise some really good money without trying to sell yourself and the product.” 

For the last six years, Janet Robin has been raising money for the American Cancer society.Ever since I lost both my parents to cancer, I have been raising money to put an end to this deadly disease.

She’s seen great success with Popcorn Palace fundraisers, “It is my best and easiest fundraiser, ” she says. “The popcorn is out of this world and the people cannot wait until my next order goes out.

She had looked at a variety of fundraising options but knew that she’d found the answer when she came across our website. “A lot of people where I work are always selling candy bars and I wanted something different.” And differentiating herself paid of, “You can raise some really good money without trying to sell yourself and the product,” says Robin. “The flyers were very appetizing and people just came over to my desk to order.

Raising funds to beat cancer is a family affair as Robin’s mother-in-law and sister-in-law also use Popcorn Palace to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Click here to learn more about the American Cancer Society