Old-fashioned fundraising tastes delicious

 As I’ve mentioned before, I participate in my church’s annual mission trip to Tijuana, Mexico. We build houses (this year we’re doing 4 with a group of approximately 40-50 high school students and 30 adult leaders) for families through the nonprofit organization Amor Ministries. This is my eighth year! I went all through high school and have returned every year since as a leader.

Every year, I try to expand my involvement and look for new ways to engage the group and improve our experience. It’s usually little things, like offering to help lead our campfire singing or volunteering to coordinate thanking our financial supporters. This year I am excited to be in charge (at my age, it’s still exciting to be put in charge of almost anything) of the Valentine’s Bake Sale fundraiser. Okay, so maybe a church bake sale is not the same as a star-studded, $100-a-ticket gala. But dang it, it’s still an event and I am proud to be trusted with its success.

So, I’ve been trying to brainstorm new ways to reinvigorate the bake sale. Last year, I expanded beyond the typical cookie contribution and made adorable hand-made valentines. Considering that older individuals (like the majority of my church’s  congregation) sometimes have health concerns that prevent them from going hog-wild on brownies (not too mention the reality that most everyone is on some kind of diet these days), I came up with the idea to offer an alternative. I really wish I had saved one my favorite styles – a handpainted kitten in pink metallic paint on a brown circle with “I think you’re the cat’s meow” written in cursive, all tucked in a coordinating envelope. The finishing touch was a dab of glitter in each eye to bring the kitty to life. I sold them at $5 a piece. They went like hotcakes.

This year, I’m encouraging the kids to likewise think outside the bakery case. I’m also developing a standardized pricing guide; each year we struggle with determining whether Matt’s brownies, which are slightly larger that Julia’s, should be equally priced or not. I’d hate to insult someone’s culinary skills by pricing their masterpiece too subjectively. Also in the works is a strategy to lower our waste – all the saran wrap and plastic bags aren’t any better for the earth’s health than the rice crispies are for ours.

The bake sale is this Sunday. I’m looking forward to see what the kids turn out this year. I think as long as it’s not pre-packaged generic sugar cookies, I’ll be satisfied. But if I can also help increase our profits over last year, streamline the process, and reduce our environmental impact, I’ll be happier than a kid in a candy store.

Image courtesy of www.hostessblog.com

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