Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fundraising Flops

            Fundraising has been a necessary part of our adoption journey. We have been extremely blessed by the generosity of others, and the amount of money raised at some of our fundraising events has floored us. But every now and then we have an idea that completely flops. One such idea was selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

We had been talking for a couple of weeks about doing a Krispy Kreme fundraiser. You can buy a dozen doughnuts for $3.75 and sell it at their suggested price of $8, thus making a $4.25 profit. To participate, you have to buy a minimum of 25 dozen. We had a coupon for 20 gift certificates if we bought a minimum of 100 dozen doughnuts, and even though t

hat was lot of doughnuts, we would only have to sell 44 boxes to break even. No big deal, surely. Saturday was going to be Sweetest Day and we decided that would be the perfect opportunity for a doughnut fundraiser.

We contacted the store where we had done our bake sale last year and asked if we could do another fundraiser. They said sure. We knew we were taking a risk (100 dozen doughnuts is not cheap) but they’re doughnuts! Everybody loves doughnuts! And it was Sweetest Day! People were going to be looking for sweet stuff anyway. AND we have two completely adorable little boys! Who could refuse when a three year old comes up and says, “Would you like to buy some dough-uts?” Well…. Apparently…. My kid is not as cute as I think he is ;) That in addition to a few other problems made this the most hilariously disastrous fundraiser we’ve done yet.

Problem number one: Joshua had to work that day. Joshua works on Saturday mornings so he helped me set up, took the two youngest to work with him, and left me and our oldest to sell those 120 dozen doughnuts. What were we thinking?? It was fine… until my little helper had to go potty. That created quite a dilemma. I couldn’t just leave all of our doughnuts and the cash box on the sidewalk and take him inside to potty… But he HAD to go. His jumping up and down was not just excitement over doughnuts.

Problem number two: Apparently Sweetest Day is not as big a thing as we thought. Sweetest Day was started in the 1920s by a candy company that decided to give out boxes of sweets to some of the street children and those who had fallen on hard times. Similar to Valentine’s Day, Sweetest Day is a day to do something sweet for someone else. It has become a lesser known holiday in 14 states, including Michigan. We had never lived in a state that celebrated Sweetest Day and had actually never heard of it until last week. But, being the ignorant foreigners that we were, we thought it was a big deal here and that everybody would want to buy something sweet that day. Um… No. In the roughly two and a half hours we stood out there we sold only seven dozen doughnuts. Seven. Out of 100 boxes and 20 gift certificates. Yeah.

Problem number three: It was freezing. I’m not sure what the exact temperature was, but at one point there was snow. Every thirty minutes Big Guy and I would duck into the store to warm up. (And I mean that quite literally. There is a laser across the doorway that counts how many people come into the store and rates the manager on how many of those she turns into costumers. The manager asked that we duck under the laser so that we wouldn’t throw off the statistics.). After about two hours of freezing our fingers off, I called Joshua and told him it was just too cold. He agreed and offered to leave work a little early so he could switch out with me. After finally being able to go potty, Big Guy and I sat in the heated van with the baby while Joshua and Boy Two tried their best to sell the remaining doughnuts. They stood out there for about twenty minutes without selling a single box before the next issue arose.

Problem number four: Security kicked us out. For the second fundraiser in a row, we discovered that what we were doing was illegal (ask me about the soda cans sometime…). After Joshua switched with me, a mall cop drove up. This mall cop had driven by several times while I stood out there (and security had passed us multiple times during our bake sale without a problem), but for some reason he took a disliking to Joshua. He stopped and asked if we had permission to be there. Yes, Joshua confidently told him, we had asked the store manager. Apparently, that area is owned by Oakland Mall (a fact we were not aware of) and you have to get permission from them to sell anything on the sidewalk – permission that they don’t give. Ever. Thankfully, nobody got fined, but that left us with 93 boxes of doughnuts (plus 20 certificates) and no idea where to sell them.

We asked several different stores if we could set up shop out front, but they all either told us no, or said we had to go through corporate, which would take several days. We had to get rid of these things quickly. Doughnuts don’t keep well, guys. Cold, exhausted, hungry, and out hundreds of dollars, we felt sick. What do you do with 1,356 doughnuts?! Once we calmed down a bit and accepted the fact that we were paying what Dave Ramsey refers to as some serious “stupid tax”, we decided there was nothing to do but have some fun. It was Sweetest Day after all.

With our van chock full, we drove around town making doughnut deliveries to members of our congregation. We handed out boxes to people on the street. We even stood in our front yard for a while with a “Free Doughnuts” sign! Okay, so that one was admittedly sketchy….

Despite our most valiant efforts, at the end of the day we still had 75 boxes of doughnuts to get rid of. We took them to church the next morning and told everyone that they were free for the taking. Word got out about our fundraiser flop (it’s hard to explain 75 boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts sitting in the fellowship hall). Lots of people took pity on us and made donations.

One sweet family helped us out a ton by taking 15 boxes from church and selling them for us in their neighborhood. They also took the gift certificates and are working on selling those this week. Without Megan and her family, we would be in a pretty sour pickle.

My mom also helped out a in a big way by getting people involved through Facebook. She inspired people to sponsor a “Sweetest Day Delivery”. For $5 a box, people bought doughnuts to be delivered to a location of their choosing. On Sunday afternoon, our family drove around town delivering dozens of doughnuts to the nursing home, police station, two different fire departments, and our local ER and L&D waiting rooms. This was so much fun and turned our disastrous fundraiser into something positive. Even if our boys aren’t quite as adorable to everyone else as they are to me, they still made plenty of people smile as they handed out free doughnuts, and they had a blast! They even got a short tour of a fire station and got to sit in the driver’s seat of a firetruck.

Our fundraiser may not have raised funds but, with lots of help, it turned into a great event. People appreciated the “Sweetest Day Deliveries” so much, and we are considering doing that again next year just because of how much joy it brought folks. And when Megan is through selling the gift certificates, we may even end up with a few more dollars than we started with! Thank you to all who participated. Your doughnut donations turned our fundraising flop into something sweet.

*Update 2/24/17: After selling the remaining 11 coupons a couple months ago, we ended up raising $55 from this fundraiser!

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