How to Prevent a Candy Bar Fundraiser Flop

Running a successful fundraiser is hard work, especially when your schedule is already crowded with classes, practice sessions, and events for your program. But today’s sports, arts, and extracurricular programs rely on extra funding to stay active throughout the school year. Without the additional money brought in by fundraisers, you’d have to sacrifice competitions, choose lower quality equipment and materials, or shorten your programs to make ends meet.

When strategizing a fundraiser, many organizations turn to candy bars as a foolproof plan. However, the results don’t always add up. Though time-tested and popular, candy bars aren’t always the best option for fundraisers. From melting concerns to surprisingly high upfront costs, candy bar fundraisers often result in disappointment.

In this blog, we’ll help you avoid a candy bar fundraiser flop so you can confidently raise funds for the upcoming school year.

Step One: Choose Products That Create Excitement

Sure, candy bars are fairly well-loved throughout the nation, but that doesn’t make them the best option for fundraisers, especially in the fall season. For one, candy bars are so readily available nearly wherever you go that there is no real excitement connected to them. Add in the fact that Halloween is just around the corner and it becomes even more of a commodity.

While there might be a market that loves the “gourmet” candy bars, the last thing you want is to be forced to sell a certain number of bars just to equal one unit of anything else. Instead, consider organizing your fundraiser around popular products that are still unique enough to generate excitement, such as:

  • Beef jerky
  • Discount cards
  • Assorted popcorn

Simple, well-liked options will help you reach your goals without the extra time commitment of finding unique products.

Step Two: Time Your Fundraiser for the Fall Season

Timing is everything when it comes to a successful fundraiser, and the fall semester offers the best timing of all. Students and parents are excited for new programs to begin, and you’ll see more active engagement from volunteers and participants. There are also a lot of opportunities for marketing and making sales at weekly sporting events, pep rallies, and performances.

The fall season also ties in nicely to a festive atmosphere with Halloween, fall festivals, Thanksgiving, and (if you stretch your fundraising window) the winter holidays.

Give Your Fundraising Team Enough Time to Market, Make Sales, and Deliver Purchases

When you’re choosing the right time for your fundraiser, make sure you plan for all of the behind-the-scenes work, too. This includes tasks like marketing the fundraiser, finding volunteers, choosing your vendors, and getting admin approval, all before the fundraiser takes place. During and after the fundraiser, you also need to have time for collecting orders, making sure your donors receive their products, and finalizing all the reports.

All of that work is another reason why you want to choose the fall season for your fundraiser. You’ll have the summer to work these out with participants, volunteers, and vendors. You can also secure admin approval near the end of this school year so you’re ahead of the crowd when fall arrives: you won’t have to vie with other programs or admins’ busy schedules when you’ve already secured approval. If you wait for a spring fundraiser, this leaves you prepping at the end of the fall semester, when engagement is low and everyone is busy.

We recommend having a fundraising period that’s at least two weeks long so you can reach out to donors multiple times, ensure the word spreads about your fundraiser, and see real results. But don’t let the window be too big, or your volunteers will lose momentum.


Step Three: Keep Participants Involved

Keeping your team members involved in the fundraiser is a crucial part of its success. If you need participants to run booths at sporting events, local festivals, and theater shows, make sure you organize a schedule that makes it easy to participate.

You can also keep participants motivated and committed by:

  • Using a virtual leaderboard
  • Having everyone set goals for themselves — both individually and as a team
  • Involving them in the planning process as you choose what to sell and what weeks your fundraiser will be active
  • Tying the fundraiser to a specific goal, such as a travel tournament, new equipment, or other big purchases.

Step Four: Include Virtual Fundraising
During COVID-19, a lot of programs shifted to online and mobile fundraising initiatives. While you and your students might be looking forward to a return to normalcy through in-person fundraisers and booths, don’t let all the work you put into your digital fundraisers go to waste. Have an online portal for purchases and donations, and continue to send out communications to your emailing list. This is a great way to stay in contact with a bigger pool of interested people. Also, you can get larger donations and sales through easy online payment methods.

Customize Your Fundraising Page

To get the most success, customize your fundraising page. Add pictures, tell visitors what you’re raising funds for, and add style elements that show school spirit or highlight a fun theme. This is also a fun project that some of your participants may enjoy owning.

Launch Fundraising Is Here to Help With Your Fundraiser

We know that candy bars may seem like a simple choice for a successful fundraiser. And while you may very well have success selling candy bars, there are other fundraising tactics we can help you with this fall season.

At Launch Fundraising, we’ve created virtual tools you can use to make the process easier. Use our solutions to create an easy online selling platform, check your progress on an intuitive dashboard so you have clear records of sales numbers and fundraising amounts, and more. Organization makes every fundraiser easier, and we’re here to help. Contact us today to learn more or to see our platform at work.