Focus on Fundraising

Mike Lawson • FundraisingJune 2021 • June 12, 2021

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As a music kid who sold everything from magazine subscriptions to tumblers, candy bars, oranges, cheese and sausage packages, and who knows what else… I remember well the importance placed on fundraising for the school music programs I was involved with while growing up. The sales were personal, too, because they were going to fund my ability to do, well, everything. Coming of age in Title 1 schools like I did in the early 1980s, I was not really one of the “haves” in my class, who were probably a slight majority to the “have nots” of my day. School trips, festivals, uniforms, they all had a hard price attached and to put it nicely, we didn’t have the funds at home that allowed me to skip over the selling and still get to participate. That’s how it was back then, and by and large, it is still that way in most places.

It was a particularly tough year for fundraising companies and student travel companies. That said, schools are reopening, barring any change in our current situation, and with that comes the need to plan your student travel plans, in no small part, to help with recruitment and retention in your programs. The time to get it together for 2022 travel is now, between planning fundraising, and shopping for the safest and best opportunities for your music students and making reservations.

We reached out to 68 companies for this story. Not surprisingly, following more than a year since COVID hit, many of these companies we reached out to are no longer in business, or significantly understaffed, and did not respond to our emails. Many emails bounced, or websites no longer loaded. So, while all of these companies below responded and are clearly in business, if you have a favorite that is not part of the story, reach out to them and see if they are still around and ready to help you get your students back on the buses.

We asked fundraising companies these questions:

  • Q1 What is your most popular fundraising product?
  • Q2 How long in advance do you advise teachers to begin
    selling to raise funds before they are needed?
  • Q3 What is your best advice to teachers to make sure their
    fundraiser is successful with your fundraising products?

These were their answers.


Ashley Farms, Inc

Q1: Our New York Cheesecakes. We have six varieties of cheesecakes and those along with our Gourmet Cookie Dough have been our best sellers for over 30 years.

Q2: Starting by the end of September has always been the best time frame to get the sale completed and delivered for a pre-Thanksgiving delivery.

Q3: Parental support is key and a good reason for raising money is clear to both students and families.

Additional Info: Ashley Farms, Inc.,, 1-800-726-0373


The Cheesecake Factory Bakery with Mrs. Fields Fundraising

Q1: Cheesecake Factory Bakery Pre-Sliced Cheesecakes, available in Original Pumpkin, Grand Selection, Strawberry Topped, White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle, Mrs. Fields Pre-Portioned Cookie Dough, available in Milk Chocolate, Semi-Sweet Chocolate, Walnut Chocolate Chip, Snickerdoodle, Rainbow, Double Chocolate White Chunk, Oatmeal Raisin, Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cup, Peanut Butter, Caramel Apple Crunch, Soo Berry Extraordinary, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut.

Q2: You keep the profit you collect. Just pay us the invoice/product cost. We recommend selling for about 3 weeks.

Q3: There is power in the brand name. When people order thru our fundraiser they know the quality product they are receiving.

Additional Info: You have told us for years how much you’ve loved Mrs. Fields Cookies and have asked for similar, high-quality, well known products for fundraising. We are excited to present The Cheesecake Factory Bakery and Mrs. Fields Fundraising. These are the same great cheesecakes you and your customers have enjoyed in the Cheesecake Factory and Mrs. Fields restaurant. Just think about enjoying the delicious creaminess of The Cheesecake Factory cakes alongside the gooey goodness of a Mrs. Fields cookie. Your customers will be able to choose from 5 of the Cheesecake Factory’s premium cheesecakes along with 12 top notch flavors of Mrs. Fields Cookies. We know you will enjoy the Cheesecake Factory and Mrs. Fields with your family at all of your upcoming socials and family celebrations.

14100 Darnestown Rd, Darnestown, MD 20874; 1-800-966-3621;;


Rada Mfg. Co.

Q1: Everyone recognizes the iconic silver aluminum handles on Rada Cutlery knives. Since 1948, people have been purchasing these time-honored cutlery pieces, and quality and value keeps them coming back year after year, generation after generation. Rada Mfg. stands behind their products with a lifetime

Q2: The joy of a Rada Cutlery fundraiser is that each group determines the length of its fundraiser. If they need funds in a hurry, it’s possible to have a successful campaign in just a matter of weeks. Getting signed up and ready to roll takes only one working day, and once orders are received, they’re usually shipped within two to four days. For Online Fundraising, supporters simply place their own orders online using a special shopping link unique to the group and orders are shipped directly to them, with no need for money collection or product distribution from sellers. Orders will be shipped directly to leaders for distribution to their group’s sellers.

Q3: The importance of promoting your group’s fundraiser and using every option available to you is vital to the success of your fundraiser. And the best part is, Rada makes it easy! Whether you choose an Online Fundraiser, a Catalog Fundraiser, or a combination of both, letting people know your group is raising money and why you’re doing it is critical. Any time you have the opportunity to communicate with others–whether face to face, sending emails, hanging up posters, using social media, etc.–it’s an ideal time for self-promotion. Often when people are asked, they’re more than happy to help, especially when they’re buying a wonderful product that is actually useful.

Additional Info: If the past year has left you wondering about the safety of holding a fundraiser, rest assured your group can hold a very successful fundraiser without anyone going door to door, collecting money, or delivering products. If you have questions, we’d love to talk to you. 905 Industrial St., Waverly, IA 50677; (319) 352-5454 or (800) 311-9691;;; 7 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. CST, M-F


Meadow Farms Fundraising

Q1: No one product itself is the most popular. Our program depth allows our customers to select from multiple categories of top selling items. Kitchen and our New England made gift wrap are among the top two most profitable categories for our customers.

Q2: You should run your fundraiser at least 2-3 months prior to when funds are needed.

Q3: Promote, advertise, and get the word out!

Additional Info: Meadow Farms is New England’s oldest and largest fundraising company. Founded in 1968, family owned and operated, we support our local economy by offering products made by New England companies. We understand the challenges facing your group, so we strive to make your life effortless in fundraising. High profits. Home Delivery of all products. Superb customer service. That’s why our customers come back to us year after year. 325 Silver Street Agawam, MA 01001; 413-786-1886 Toll Free: 800-886-7895;;


Fun Pasta Fundraising

Q1: Oh…that’s tough! Animal shaped pasta sells well, and also our Chicken Noodle Soup and all things holiday!

Q2: The selling process is about 2-3 weeks, so the getting started early is always advised! If you need funds in hand by a certain date, we’d recommend starting 6-8 weeks before that date. When you fundraiser closes, we then send you your profit check!

Q3: Organize your Fundraising Details, Set Tangible and Achievable Goals, Educate your Sellers, and Take Advantage of Technology when Marketing!

Additional Info: Fundraising campaigns should be fun! Make sure you surround yourself with volunteers and helpers who have specific skill sets that can help your group. This can range from communications, social media, to more hands on help if you have to distribute your items. Get organized on the front end, and the job will be much easier. And of course, work with a company who has excellent service and products that are valuable to your supporters! Fun Pasta Fundraising, PO Box 159245, Nashville, TN 37215; 800-247-0188;;


Fundraising with Simply Sheets

Q1: We are the only Bed Sheet and Bath Towel fundraising company. Of course, our most popular product is our sheets. However, we also sell Bamboo Pillows and Satin Pillowcases.

Q2: Our program offers no upfront costs and no minimums. Our average organizations’ profit is 42%! Any time is a great time to sell! But we suggest that an organization begin selling at least 6 weeks before funds are needed.

Q3: We are well known in most communities, so our products sell themselves. My best advice would be to simply let your supporters know that you are selling our products.

Additional Info: We actually have customers, who have bought from organizations, contact us to find out where they can purchase our products in their area! 7900 Bullitt Dr, Mobile, Alabama 36619; 800-501-7621;;


Dutch Mill Bulbs, Inc.

Q1: Identifying our most popular fundraising product is difficult. We offer 18 selections in both our fall and spring flower bulb fundraising programs. Our tulip selections are probably the most popular fall items, and strawberry plants the most popular spring item.

Q2: We advise groups to run the program for a period of 2 to 3 weeks. We also suggest combining both our brochure and online fundraising programs for best results.

Q3: Be sure to set an achievable goal and let customers know what the money will be used for.

Additional Info: Dutch Mill Bulbs, the original flower bulb fundraising company, has been helping groups exceed their fundraising goals for over 60 years. Because of their popularity, flower bulbs are easy to sell – people love flowers! There’s no risk – all selections are guaranteed to grow and bloom – and there’s no upfront costs. More information is available by calling 800-533-8824, or visit us on the web at PO Box 407, Hershey, PA 17033-0407; Toll Free: (800) 533-8824;


Poppin Popcorn

Q1: Popcorn

Q2: You can sign-up and start the same day at

Q3: Best Success comes with a 5-minute in-class kick-off! Students sign-up in class (takes 2 minutes), students send a customized email, text as well as make social media posts through our platform – Bands are making over 5K within 15 minutes of the fundraiser kick-off!

Additional Info: Poppin Popcorn is a 50% Profit, free prize program, 100% Online with home delivery to the customer! Our online platform makes fundraising fun and profitable! 1038 Washington Ave, Holland, MI 49423;; 1-616-395-3663;

Q1: Katydids chocolate is our most popular program

Q2: No matter what the program is, the most important thing is how well organized the group is! You need a specific goal; what exactly will the money be used for? Make sure everyone is aware. What are the individual objectives for each participant? What is the timeline? Need a start and end date!

Additional Info: Have fun!;


The Importance of Fundraising for our Students and Community

The world has changed over the past 14 months and along with it, many traditions and events have been either cancelled or altered greatly.

When a group gathers to perform or compete, there is a sense of belonging, a sense of togetherness, which means there are many people looking in the same direction trying to achieve the same goal. This is the spirit and feeling we have sadly missed since 2019.

Along with performing or competing, comes travel, whether it be getting on a bus to the next town over or getting on plane and heading to Disney World. That sense of anticipation and excitement cannot be compared to anything else.

Fundraising has been an institution for most nonprofit groups in order to make these events a reality.

In many communities, the whole town looks forward to the fundraiser and is very willing to support the local group, knowing that they will soon be representing the community while trying to achieve their goals.

Fundraising, for the most part, has been on hold for over a year now. It’s time to release the chains, get our young people back in the game and get all of these activities back in action. Please urge your administrators to allow all groups to restart their engines and get moving again.

James Messina, President AFRDS, the Association of Fundraising Distributors and Suppliers


Four Reasons Why Choosing a Branded Product Makes Your Fundraisers Explode

By Bryce Simons,

Big brands have finally come to the fundraising industry. The time of unbranded, unknown products has finally come to an end. Just like with retail shopping, brand recognition will always bring more customers. Nothing will help a fundraiser more than the “Ah-ha” moment that end customers will get when they see a brand or product they know and understand the quality that comes with it. A band director in KS responded when asked about how her change to a branded product went, “Our band department is very pleased with our switch to Mrs. Fields cookie dough. The whole community knows we sell cookie dough after our marching camp each year (24 years now) and we saw our profits go up after the change. On a personal note, I buy our family several containers each year because the quality is so good. Customers and Staff tell us how much they love it”. Several companies have tested the correlation of branded products to growth of sales in fundraisers. The results have proven that brands promote massive growths. Some groups have shown up to 30% growth the first year they switched to branded products! Beyond the growth potential, there are plenty of reasons that a brand is much stronger than an unbranded product, but here are just a few:


Well-known brands have already invested significant funds in creating demand and establishing the quality for their products. You will want to offer a proven blend of products that resonate with the community, have mass appeal, and are priced appropriately. By partnering with these brands, you leverage the investments they have already made.


The best brands in each segment always have the top-quality products. The investment brands make into maintaining the top quality of their products is known by consumers. Consumers know they are not buying fillers and “flavor-enhancing” compounds in branded products like they could be in unbranded products. Why not bring that top quality product and knowledge to your customers?


Bringing a top-quality product helps create brand loyalty among your customers. Nothing proves that your fundraiser was successful like when your end customer comes back asking for more. Brands give your sellers opportunities to expand from your known customer base and reach new end customers. This will help your sales grow year after year!

The Future of

Fundraising As the fundraising industry evolves, brands have proven to be the most effective way to maintain successful fundraisers. The major brands in fundraising have plans of sustainability. They continue to expand their availability to customers in the form of online ordering platforms and create a dynamic product lines that fit the needs of their customers.

Outside of the fundraising industry, well-known brands have seen the success in the fundraising industry and are offering their products for fundraising programs. These brands are partnering with other big brands to help bolster growth between the brands and maintain the highest quality programs for customers. One notable new entrant is The Cheesecake Factory Bakery, which has chosen to partner with Mrs. Fields Fundraising.

There will always be a need for fundraising dollars. With the country moving forward through COVID it is necessary to bring to quality branded products to your students and their families. Brands have proven that customers see the value and the quality of high-tier products. It is time to step up your fundraisers with brands and ensure your group earns top profits and provide unbeatable quality, every single time.


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