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This was a guest post contributed by Debbie Salat at ABC Fundraising. 

If you’re looking for the perfect year-end fundraiser for your organization, school, or church, look no further than product fundraising. Product fundraisers are staples for community organizations and schools because they provide a tangible takeaway in exchange for a donation. All your organization has to do is choose the perfect product and sell it to your community. Then, you earn donations while your supporters get a fun treat.

If you want to raise more money this year-end season, remember that food is the ultimate motivator! Especially around the holidays, your supporters will love the chance to give to your organization through these fundraisers—and enjoy some delicious food in return.

Our Favorite Food Fundraisers 

One good thing about product fundraisers is that you have a lot of options! In this section, we’ll explore some of our favorite types of food your organization can sell this year-end season.  

When deciding which food to sell, remember to consider your audience. For example, if you’re running a church fundraiser, do you want to sell snacks for the children in your congregation? Or would you rather sell food to the wider community at wide-spread events? 

Start by reviewing our favorite 7 fundraising options, and think about which food your audience will like best.

1. Popcorn

A popcorn fundraiser is a tried and true food fundraiser that will work for any organization. Your supporters can choose from classic, salty, sweet, and even gourmet options. Host a movie night event to get students or community members excited about the fundraiser and keep popcorn at the front of their minds.

2. Cookie Dough

Cookie dough is a classic for fundraising, and it’s perfect for the holiday season. At the end of a successful cookie dough fundraiser, you can raise even more money by hosting a cookie making or decorating event. This is a great idea for young kids or anyone who loves sweets!

3. Chocolate Bars

Speaking of people who love sweets, selling chocolate bars makes for another engaging fundraiser for schools and sports teams. This is an easy fundraiser for students to get involved in because they can sell their favorite bars to classmates and neighbors. For added motivation, encourage friendly competition between students by offering prizes for top sellers.  

4. Gourmet Coffee

If your target audience includes parents, teachers, or other hard working adults, they’ll love a gourmet coffee fundraiser. Especially with the holidays coming up, they’ll need that extra energy! 

5. Candy

Similar to the chocolate bar fundraiser but with even more variety, candy is a great option for selling at concession stands or community events.

6. Pretzels

According to ABC Fundraising’s list of easy fundraiser ideas, organizations raise $1,700 on average with soft-baked pretzel fundraisers. Hot pretzels are a delicious choice for the winter for any type of organization.

7. Beef Jerky

Want to spice up your fundraising by choosing a more unique option? Try selling beef jerky! If you or other organizations in your community have already run all the classic food fundraisers, beef jerky is an exciting option that will set you apart.

Food isn’t all you need to host these fundraisers! Now that you have some options of what you can sell in mind, let’s discuss some strategies you’ll need to run your fundraiser effectively. Don’t forget to take advantage of foundational fundraising tools as well to make the process easier.

How to Host a Year-End Food Fundraiser 

In this section, we’ll explain exactly how to sell food as part of an end-of-the-year fundraiser. To give you a clear picture of what a food fundraiser looks like, we’ll use the example of an elementary school selling cookie dough before the holiday break. 

Our example school wants to raise money for school activities and get students excited for the break. Think about your organization’s own goals as we go through each step. 

Determine the format of your fundraiser.

First, you’ll need to decide what fundraising format will best align with your goals. Different format options include:

  • Door-to-door sales
  • Online sales
  • Event-based sales
  • Hybrid formats

For our elementary school, we’ve decided on a mix of online sales and door-to-door sales that allow students to sell to parents and neighbors. We want students to be involved and have fun, but we also know that tech can elevate year-end giving

Use a fundraising web store for your organization to sell to a wider audience and meet your supporters where they are. Then, items can be shipped to donors or hand-delivered, or both!

Choose a product fundraising partner that meets your needs.

If you want easy access to a personalized web store and campaign page, work with a product fundraising partner. A product fundraising partner is a specialized business that offers a wide variety of wholesale products you can sell, along with other added fundraising tools like web store pages. Our elementary school example will use a product fundraising partner to order cookie dough from and to create an easier overall process.

Pick the perfect food products that will excite your audience.

We’ve already discussed how important it is to include your audience in your decision-making process, but what specific factors do you need to consider? To help you decide which food product your audience will get most excited about, think about:

  • Your audience’s age range
  • The time of year 
  • Any known dietary restrictions
  • Events you’re hosting
  • Food you’ve sold in the past

Our example school decided on a cookie dough fundraiser because of the holidays, the variety of available flavors, and students’ age range. We figured that cookies would be easy and fun for students to make with their parents over the break. 

Lay out a plan and promote your campaign.

Once you have your food picked out, it’s time to create a detailed plan for how you’re going to promote your fundraiser. OneCause’s guide to school auction fundraisers emphasizes the importance of early planning for year-end events like this to “avoid overwhelming your team during the busiest times of the school year.” 

In your campaign plan, determine the methods you’ll use to get the word out about your fundraiser. For well-rounded promotion, use the online campaign page from your product fundraising partner along with traditional methods like sending flyers home with students. 

Keep up the energy through to the end.

Once you start your fundraiser, it’s time to have fun and get your community excited about your progress! One strategy for this is to create a fundraising thermometer on your campaign page or social media. Supporters can check back each week to see how much you’ve raised and how much more they need to sell to reach your organization’s goal. 

With school fundraising, it’s especially important to keep students excited about the fundraiser until the end. For our cookie dough fundraiser, we’ll have cookie-themed announcements every day in school and post progress updates on Facebook for parents to see. We also made sure to let students know about the cookie decorating event the day before break.

Follow up to distribute items and/or thank your donors.

Distributing items is the best part of the campaign! It’s also a great opportunity to get students or community volunteers involved in the process. If students led door-to-door sales, they can deliver items door-to-door as well. Or, host a pickup event where volunteers check sales and distribute items.

Along with the food, deliver thank you messages that emphasize the impact supporters have made by donating. Show your appreciation for your volunteers as well to ensure they feel valued and come back to help next year.

At the year’s end when supporters are feeling extra generous, food fundraisers can raise a lot of money in a fun and delicious way. With these ideas and tips, you can run a successful end-of-year fundraiser and bring a lot of joy to your community in the process. 

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