Tuesday 14 Apr, 2009

Yankee Candle Fundraising Success

One hour of prep time + three weeks + nine students = $1,560 profit. Not bad, right?

For Alicia Chapman and her high school students in rural Maine, it’s made all the difference.

Alicia, a high school science teacher, has helped make it possible for her students to travel on an EF tour next year with her incredible fundraising success story.

When I asked Alicia (left) why she leads tours with EF and puts the effort into organizing fundraising for her students, she said it’s well worth it.

“I get to go because of them (my students), so if I have to spend a little of my time (to help them make it happen), I think it’s fair,” Alicia said. “Half of my students have never left Maine and may never do it again. I can’t wait to travel with them!”

Alicia and her students are traveling to London and Paris next summer with EF. Fortunately, for their fundraising’s sake, their rural town in Maine loves having Yankee Candles delivered to its doorsteps. A few years ago, Alicia was the senior class adviser, and the idea of organizing fundraising efforts for 200 students was a daunting one. She came across Yankee Candle Fundraising, and it was a hit!

“It was very easy for me,” Alicia said. “I learned about it as a senior class adviser, with 200 students to fundraise for. I was really afraid of how hard it would be, but this was very easy and only required an hour of my time.”

Now, I normally am not a huge advocate of fundraising through product sales. However, Alicia’s group hit two of the keys to success when choosing this fundraising route:

  1. The product was one that people in their community looked forward to buying and couldn’t get otherwise.
  2. At 40 percent, the profit margin was tremendous!

Here’s how Yankee Candle Fundraising works:

Fundraising coordinator: Yankee Candle assigns a fundraising coordinator to each group. The coordinator assists the organizer (in this case, the group leader) during the process and answers questions along the way. Alicia said this made it extra easy.

Order forms and kits: Each student receives a packet with a
booklet, an introduction to the fundraiser with suggestions and important
deadlines and a pad of triplicate order forms (one for the group
leader, one for the student and one for Yankee Candle). The organizer also is provided with a prepaid envelope to send the order
back to Yankee Candle.

Selling period: A two-week selling period is suggested, although Alicia’s group continued its sales for a third week. I wouldn’t go much beyond that, though, to create a sense of urgency.

Earning profit: This is a simple fundraising concept with
individual motivation. What each student sells is what he or she earns.
Alicia’s group generated a total profit of $1,560, and the best
individual success was $240 profit.

Maximum profit: For the maximum profit margin of 40 percent, you must submit payment for your order within 20 days of receipt of the invoice.

Sales tax: School-sponsored trips do not have to pay sales tax because you can use the nonprofit tax ID number. If your trip is not school sanctioned, don’t worry, just add a 5 percent sales tax to your orders so it does not come out of your profits.

Billing: All of the billing is done completely online and is easily broken down to show group and individual totals. Yankee Candle requests one check from the group, so you can either have the individual orders made out to the club’s account or open a separate personal checking account for all of your fundraising transactions. As mentioned above, if you submit payment within 20 days, you receive an extra 3 percent profit—bringing you to the 40 percent profit margin. One word of advice from Alicia: Be sure to keep detailed records of all transactions so you can accurately designate funds to your students.

Shipping: As you can imagine, candles can get heavy, but Yankee Candle has taken care of that. Shipping and handling charges cannot exceed $175 no matter the weight, and they are prorated along the way. Plus, orders come bundled by seller so you don’t have to sort them out by each student.

Sales seasons: Yankee Candle offers two seasons of sales—spring and fall. A word of caution about fall sales: In the past, there was a backlog before the holidays. Yankee Candle has worked to fix the problem for this year, but it’s a good idea to give yourself extra time for fall orders.

Target market: Don’t forget to reach out to family, friends, students’ and parents’ co-workers and outside groups, including religious communities and sports teams.

Alicia’s students (above) were so successful with their fundraising efforts last October that they can’t wait to sell again this spring with a new line of candle scents.

For more information about Yankee Candle Fundraising, check out Yankee’s fundraising FAQs.

If you have your own fundraising success story for your EF tour, please share your experiences with us at fundraising@ef.com.

(Tip of the Week
is
written by EF Fundraising Specialist Tessa Lorenze and appears at
Following the Equator every Tuesday. For more fundraising help on your
EF tour, check out EF’s fundraising tips or contact an EF Fundraising Specialist at fundraising@ef.com.)

Chapman and group photos: Courtesy of Alicia Chapman
Yankee Candles photo: sun dazed via Flickr (CC license)