As a nation, we eat over 17 billion quarts of popcorn every single year. That's good news for popcorn fans and school fundraiser organizers alike: the key to a great fundraiser is using a product that everyone likes, that's easy to buy, and that's easy to sell and store.
More and more school programs — ranging from football and track to band, debate, and visual arts — are becoming dependent on fundraising and donations. Since 2007, the NAESP has been emphasizing that frequent fundraisers simply aren't optional for schools, and the last few years haven't made funding programs any easier:
According to "The Value of Fundraising," the majority of schools in the U.S. (76 percent) conduct one to five fundraisers each year, and one in five schools taps its families and communities up to 10 times annually.
If you're thinking ahead for the 2022-2023 athletic seasons and school year, don't wait until the fall to plan your fundraisers. Instead, start making your plans around a fun food product that's a complete crowd-pleaser: popcorn. In this quick guide, learn:
- Why it's so important to have a strong fundraiser in the fall
- The benefits of choosing popcorn
- How to optimize your fall popcorn fundraiser to get more donations and engagement
See More Success During Fall Fundraisers Than Any Other Time of the Year
It's the start of the school year, and everyone is excited. Football and marching band practice is underway, theater programs are starting to practice their first pieces, and after-school services are beginning their seasonal programs. Starting off the school year with a strong fundraiser helps you capture that high-energy enthusiasm. The fall semester is also a valuable time to seek donations because:
- There are more opportunities: Football games, pep rallies, and fall festivals are all common events during this season, and each one is an opportunity for fundraising at a booth. In-the-moment snack sales are a great way to ramp up funds for your programs.
- It's the gift-giving season: If your fall fundraising season stretches a little long, that's great! Selling canisters or bags of boutique popcorn is easy when they can become fun gift ideas, not just snacks. Also, that late-fall gift-giving spirit can help you emotionally connect with potential donors.
- There are lots of themes to choose from: The fall season is packed. There are holidays — such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, and all the winter holidays — themes, sports events, general autumnal flair, and more. Whether you have a wide product catalog, want to pepper in lots of mini-fundraisers, or sell products that work well with them all, you can create a fun and memorable fundraiser easily in the fall.
Not only will you and your students see more success, but it'll also reduce stress on you. You won't have to wait until the spring season to see if everything fits in your budget or risk having to pull out of events. Instead, you can set your goals, see if you reach (or even surpass!) them, and budget for the rest of the school year with more peace of mind.
Make Your Fall Fundraisers About Shared Traditions
If you're a director of a program that has the potential to stick around long-term or you're on a committee for an established youth activity, take the time to turn your fall fundraiser into a tradition. Come up with a catchy name, spread the word, and start an annual tradition of selling products that fit the nature of your program, like a bag of popcorn at a fall theater show or bags of popcorn around the bleachers during home games.
To Make Money, Sell What People Want to Buy
There are some standard, conservative options in the school, athletics, and after-school activities world. Popcorn, especially, is a universal favorite. While a unique fundraiser that you develop over time can definitely pay off, it's a gamble that many program directors can't risk the time and money on.
Many special fundraisers require lots of parent volunteers, access to refrigerators or kitchens, and ample time to manage orders. Instead, opt for universally loved items that aren't too expensive for your donors or too inconvenient for your packed schedule.
Popcorn Fundraisers Raise Money, No Matter Where They're Sold
No matter what activity you're raising funds for, there's a great space to sell popcorn. You and your students can:
- Sell individual bags at school games and shows.
- Have a booth at community fairs.
- Send students out with individual bags to sell.
- Sell larger tins of popcorn via advance orders on your fundraiser website.
Parents, volunteers, and event attendees can all participate by buying small units to snack on, bigger packages to take home, and tins of gourmet popcorn to give as gifts. If you find a vendor with diverse options, even within the narrow field of popcorn, there are options that fit any donor's budget and interests. No one's left out!
How to Make Your Fall Popcorn Fundraiser Even Better
Once you've decided a popcorn fundraiser is the perfect fit for your fall season, there are many different strategies and tactics you can use to reach your fundraising goals. Try these tips:
- Get administrative approval before the school year starts: The earlier you have approval, the better. Once the next school year ramps up, administrators may be too busy to approve your request in time for you to reach out to vendors. Even during the summer, communication can lag. Get the go-ahead during the spring so you can focus on making everything run smoothly.
- Make your fundraiser exciting: This is where students and volunteers will shine. Drum up excitement about your group's popcorn fundraiser with fun decorations, school announcements, and flyers or emails sent home to parents. You can also make it fun with school-affiliated or holiday packaging and by making your fundraiser a tradition over time.
- Go digital: During COVID-19, virtual fundraisers became an important tool for reaching donors. While door-to-door and in-person sales are opening back up, virtual donations will still be important. Set up a webpage where donors can buy popcorn.
- Prepare for managing the back-end of the fundraiser: Set clear goals about how much money you need to raise. Popcorn offers a great margin for funding your programs, but you'll need to consider costs for the products and setting up booths, handling deliveries, and keeping track of the money (including cash, paper order forms, and digital sales). Take the time now to decide what tools work best for your needs.
Launch Fundraising Is Here to Help
At Launch Fundraising, we know how important it is to raise money for underfunded programs. But we also know how hard it can be to make those fundraisers happen when you're busy running those programs.
That's why we provide intuitive online tools for fundraisers, so you can pick your products, use cashless transactions, and have real-time insights into your fundraiser through our easy-to-use dashboard. Contact us today to see how we can help your fall popcorn fundraiser — and any other fundraiser on your to-do list — an even bigger success.