What's the best way to figure out the right fundraiser for your family? Pray. Then keep your eyes open.
Last June we were up north visiting family, and we went to a European style market. As we were walking through, I remembered chatter on Facebook about an Open Air Market starting up in a nearby city. So, as I went from booth-to-booth at the European market, I had my what-could-I-sell-for-our-adoption radar going.
I saw a baker selling giant cookies, and I knew I could, should, would try this. I stopped and chatted with the woman selling the over-sized deliciousness. I told her my maybe-plans and wondered out loud. She was gracious and answered all my questions
I came home and started experimenting with some of my tried and true recipes, baking them big enough for a giant. I also concocted some new recipes. I also gained twenty pounds in six months, but surely that had nothing to do with the cookies. (Ahem.)
I made a little logo, and set up shop on Saturdays.
From the beginning of hot-hot July to the end of chilly October we sold hundreds of cookies. We also set up at a Holiday Market. After our costs, donations from cookie purchases were equal to about $1,800.
I decided to brew, bottle, and sell vanilla extract, too. I had two quarts ready (that I had started for my family), and thought — why not add it to the cookie stand? It goes with cookies! I also read about vanilla sugar, and thought I'd give that a try, too. After costs, the vanilla and vanilla sugar added another $500 to our adoption fund. The vanilla sugar was easier to make than the vanilla, and we sold more vanilla sugar (especially at Christmas) than we sold vanilla extract.
Let's take a moment and talk about this vanilla and vanilla sugar, in case you want to give it a whirl.
Here are some links and recipes to get you started:
Vanilla Extract by Vanilla Review
Vanilla Exract by Heavenly Homemakers
Vanilla Sugar by Alton Brown
The best deal I found on bottles was at SKS Bottles and Packaging, but that might change, so do your research. I buy my vanilla beans at Olive Nation; they are great quality, and I've purchased from them three times. If you do a Google search, you'll probably find an Olive Nation coupon, too.
Lots of things to love about this fundraiser
- I never had to push it as a fundraiser. Some people knew. Some people didn't. It didn't matter much because people love cookies.
- Our community became a resource. It's hard to ask the same people (blog readers, family members, etc.) to help over and over and over again. By being at the Farmer's Market, I wasn't asking the same people to support one of our fundraisers.
- Elijah was able to help me. He is quite capable of running the cash box (maybe more capable than the baker . . . maybe), and it was good for us to be able to sit and chat and sell cookies together.
- I met a lot of amazing people in our community while doing something I enjoy. I don't think I could sell t-shirts. It's just not me. But I can bake cookies! And I can certainly stand around and sell them while getting to chat with the locals!
- I had a lot of fun being creative. By the end of the summer I concocted twenty recipes that are mine-all-mine. My hope for this next Farmer's Market season is to compile the recipes into a book and sell the cookbook. This way my customers will have their favorites, and it will be another fundraiser for us.
This one is a lot of work. Fridays were hard days . . . for my boys. Friday night used to be Family Fun Night (homemade pizza and games), but the cookies took over. I think, if I could have a redo, I would find a friend or family member to host the boys on Fridays while I measured, mixed, stirred, baked, and frosted.
We aren't expecting our referral to come before this summer, so right now we are planning on selling the cookies again, but it will only be on the first Saturday of the month instead of every Saturday. This will help us earn some income for our adoption while bringing more balance to the boys' schedule.
If you have any questions about this fundraiser, please leave me a comment. I would be happy to answer specifics for you or to help you get started with something similar!
I baked 4-5 varieties each week. I had a lot of different recipes developed by the end of the summer! 🙂 I usually tried to have a “healthy” cookie, but I only made two: “Banana Bread” and “Breakfast” (oats, peanut butter, honey, etc.).
Some of my menus looked like this:
Sample 1- Chocolate Chip, Chopped Cherry, Double Chocolate, Blueberry Lemon + one of the healthy ones (I usually only made 1 dozen of those)
Sample 2- Snickerdoodle, Orange Dream, Mocha Hazelnut, Caramel Oatmeal + a healthy cookie
Other cookies I offered: Chocolate Chip Walnut, Oatmeal Raisin (with a white glaze), Peanut Butter Cup (sold at holiday market in December only), Coconut Cream, Mommom’s Monster (my grandma’s recipe, Frosted Pumpkin, Cranberry Christmas (with pecans and covered in orange sugar), Triple Chocolate, Sugar Cookie, Apple Pie Cookies
Cookies I wanted to invent but never got around to: Strawberry Shortcake, Raspberry Cheesecake, Almond Joy, Carrot Cake, Caramel Apple
I would announce on Facebook each week what the menu was. Some people were very attached to certain cookies! 😉
I tried to limit myself to 2 frosted cookies each week because the frosting is time consuming. Snickerdoodles were a really big hit, and they were one of the best money makers since I didn’t have to add any chips or frostings. I never attempted peanut butter because it’s HOT here, and I thought they would crumble for sure.
I usually had 120 cookies; they were very GIANT. 🙂 I usually sold out. I think I only had leftovers twice, and I did take them home as my kids were dying for a cookie. 😉
Lots of people asked for a gluten free cookie. Monster cookies are gluten free! 🙂
Let me know if you have any more questions for me!! 🙂
I’m dying to know when your cookbook will be out! This is a great idea for a fundraiser, and we have a farmer’s market right down the street. I’m hoping this is something I’ll be able to do to raise money for our adoption. Have been looking up recipes, but I’d love to have them all compiled for me! 🙂 Thanks for a great idea!
Alison G. says
When you say giant, how giant? About 6inches across? Also, how did you come up with/develop your recipies. Will regular recipies,maybe tripled, just with bigger cookies work? Or did you develop a few master recipies and change things up a bit? Were there any specific techniques you noticed that helped your bigger cookies from falling apart? Also it is super hot here as well. How did you manage to keep your icing looking so pretty? Also did you have a specific FB page for your cookies or did you just do it on your regular page?
I love the idea of the cake stand! We have a farmers market in our small town… bummer that it's almost over. But an idea I will store away for next season. I did wonder about the vanilla sugar… what would you use it for? I love vanilla and sugar… what a great combo… but curious how you use it?
I use it for coffee, tea (yum!), snickerdoodle cookies, ice cream (homemade), cinnamon toast . . . it’s all good!!