When the Fund Raising Ideas Center researched the most successful fund-raising products, candy came in at No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 over other items. Leading the pack is World's Finest® Chocolates, a company launched in 1949, but times have changed. Sending your child out the door with a case of candy to finance basketball team uniforms or the senior class trip is now out of the question. What's a Scout troop, choir or community group to do? Keep the candy, but be smart about the way you approach your fundraiser, so it's as profitable and easy as it is fun.
Choose the right candy company. Word of mouth is a great way to find out which wholesalers are reliable and which are likely to give you delivery, payment or quality problems. World's Best has a great reputation, as does efundraising, a subsidiary of Reader's Digest. A good candy source will provide you with easy-to-follow order and selling instructions and helpful promotional materials. They'll make it clear exactly that your minimum order must be and outline your profit margin. Aim for the best deals when you choose finalists; then let the committee decide which vendor looks like the best bet.
Work out financial details of the candy sale. If you're a well-known organization, you may be able to use a purchase order to secure your first shipment of candy. After this, you'll buy more cases with profits from initial sales. The candy company you choose may not take purchase orders, so use the organization's credit card or that of the treasurer or another member of the fund-raising committee. Using the right credit card can add a measure of protection: In the unlikely event that you get a shipment of rancid or damaged candy that the vendor won't replace, your credit card company may be willing to take it off your statement. You may also inquire about using a personal check or PayPal to handle the financial arrangements.
Check with an attorney to find out if your fund-raising group could be subject to any fallout or liability from an accident or illness resulting from eating the candy, from potential theft of the candy and fallout from receipt of checks that bounce or credit cards that prove to be expired or canceled. We live in a litigious world. Get professional advice to minimize the group's liability and give all of the volunteers peace of mind.
Establish a distribution center for the fundraiser. Centralizing all of the group's efforts will make life as easy for those who are selling the candy as those who are managing the project. A spare bedroom with room to stockpile and distribute the candy or an available storage area in a public place that's accessible to candy sale sponsors (e.g., Girl Scout office, school office, etc.) makes the most sense. If people are invited to pick up candy and drop off funds at various times during the day and evening, however, you'll want to make certain your center isn't locked down after 5 p.m.
Get permits to sell candy in public places to avoid being marched off the premises. Not every public venue requires one, but don't leave it to chance. Once you've set a schedule and cleared locations, divide up your team and travel to area festivals, fairs, ballgames, farmers markets, shopping centers and other high-traffic locations. Divide up selling duties in an equitable way. Offer volunteers four-hour selling shifts at locations near their homes, so you don't put a burden on time or family resources. Set up a phone tree, so you have a way to reach people if they fail to show up for their shift. Keep a list of substitutes in case an emergency should occur.
Share the group's success with each and every volunteer. Candy fundraisers take lots of organization, time and energy to accomplish, but they offer participants a feeling of individual accomplishment as well as being part of a team effort. That's why a framed certificate of participation for each person who helped sell enough candy to meet the group's goal is a great way to say thank you.
Appoint a logistics volunteer to keep your fundraiser organized and efficient. Put that person in charge of card tables, folding chairs, a cash box, check keeper, literature and other necessities, so nobody has to leave a station in search of supplies instead of selling candy.
- Appoint a logistics volunteer to keep your fundraiser organized and efficient. Put that person in charge of card tables, folding chairs, a cash box, check keeper, literature and other necessities, so nobody has to leave a station in search of supplies instead of selling candy.
Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.