Green Fundraising Opportunities: Coffee Fundraising Is Something to Think About

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  • It’s time to think about fundraising already?  Have you thought about fundraising with coffee?  If you know a coach, a teacher, or a school principal, and you would like to help their school make a good choice about green fundraising, you might want to forward this along to them.

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Since it’s toward the end of July, this may seem difficult to believe.

But school will be starting again soon, and fundraising season will once again begin.

Fundraising happens year round of course, but fall (in the United States) is the time of the year when football teams, bands, drama clubs, and pretty much every high school activity or club realizes that this year’s budget isn’t going to allow them to do what they want to do.

So they set out door-to-door with their order forms and catalogs, looking for anyone who would like to buy “their” wares.

These fundraisers are often run by large companies, who supply the marketing materials and promotional items in exchange for a percentage of the profits.

Usually, on the list of fundraisers are:

  • Wrapping paper fundraising
  • Chocolate bar fundraising (all junk food falls into this category)
  • Oranges and Pistachios fundraising
  • Popcorn fundraising
  • Magazine fundraising

What will your school be doing this fall?

There are lots of fundraising options.  But it’s important to consider which fundraisers are environmentally friendly, while giving you the biggest return on investment.

Let’s look at these:

Wrapping paper fundraising

Wrapping paper is inherently a single use item.  Most people take it off the roll, put it around a package which is already packaged.  When the wrapping paper gets torn off of the package, it goes right into the trash.

Environmental score = 0/5 (one-use item that is thrown away immediately.  Trees often are torn down to make the paper.)

Social benefit = 1/5 (only because wrapping paper makes people happy and keeps garbage collectors and Hallmark employees in a job)

Profit = 3/5 (Can be very profitable, but you’re basically selling an overpriced and glamorous form of paper.  It doesn’t seem like it from the inexpensive nature of paper, but paper is actually quite costly and time-intensive to make.  Also, there’s always wrapping paper that can be purchased cheaper at the dollar store or Wal-Mart, so your profits are generally limited to one-time sales.)

Overall score for wrapping paper fundraising = 4/15

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Chocolate Bar fundraising (including suckers and other junk food)

Candy comes in wrappers which are most often difficult to recycle and made from plastic and petroleum-based materials which clog waterways and take eons to breakdown.  Add to that the fattening and addictive effects of overloading on sugar, and you can begin to see just how harmful it is to fundraise with junk food.

Environmental score = 0/5

Social benefit 1/5 (only because it makes people happy and keeps garbage collectors and Hallmark employees in a job)

Profit = 2/5 (Can be quite good because people have a hard time resisting what they’re told they can’t have.  However, your profits are one-time because people can get the items cheaper at the grocery store.)

Overall score for chocolate bar fundraising = 3/15

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Pistachios/Oranges Fundraising

Pistachios and oranges come in boxes which are recyclable.  Whoo-hoo!

Pistachios and oranges are also the fruit of a plant, and not the plant itself.  This means that the source of the fundraising is a renewable resource (unlike wrapping paper which (at the core of the issue) tears down a whole tree to make paper).

Environmental score = 3/5 (They tend to be seasonal, and most people who buy a box of oranges end up throwing out half of the box because the oranges never get eaten anyway)

Social benefit = 4/5 (Can be very good for farmers who produce oranges and pistachios)

Profit = 3/5 (Oranges and pistachios are heavy.  They’re expensive to ship.  The profit can be good, but is generally one-time, as buyers realize they don’t need that many oranges or pistachios.)

Overall score for pistachios/oranges fundraising = 10/15

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Popcorn Fundraising

Popcorn usually comes in clear plastic bags.  Many plastic bags end up improperly disposed of in the ocean. Turtles eat these bags, mistaking them for jellyfish.  Many of the turtles eventually starve and die.  Not cool.

Environmental score = 4/5 (for the popcorn itself) 0/5 (for the bags the popcorn comes in)

Social benefit = 3/5 (Can be good for farmers who produce corn for popping.  Popcorn makes people happy.  But if it’s loaded with junk (like salt and sugar), popcorn can also make them fat.)

Profit = 2/5 (In the bag of popcorn, you’re selling mostly air.  You’re getting good prices for what is mostly air.  However, your profit is one-time because people can get nearly the same popcorn for cheaper at the grocery store.)

Overall score for popcorn fundraising = 9/15

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Magazine Fundraising

Magazines can be a good way to generate a nice profit.  At the core though, most people don’t read all the magazines they receive, and often just buy the magazine to get someone off their doorstep.

Environmental score = 0/5 (A magazine is a single use item which usually goes in the trash.)

Social benefit = 3/5 (Magazines can be a good way to learn something new by accident.)

Profit = 4/5 (In the bag of popcorn, you’re selling mostly air.  You’re getting good prices for what is mostly air.  However, your profit is one-time because people can get nearly the same popcorn for cheaper at the grocery store.)

Overall score for magazine fundraising = 7/15

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Of these fundraisers, oranges/pistachios get the highest ratings.

However, here’s another kind of fundraiser to consider: coffee.

Coffee, if done right as a fundraiser, can:

  • be sourced with very few people in between farmer and end consumer
  • easily be packaged in renewable materials like burlap
  • provide a great source of revenue for the organization without price gouging the customer
  • create an ongoing source of revenue for the organization as the coffee drinker becomes loyal to a particular brand and returns to the coffee company to order again and again

All-in-all, if you’re looking for a green fundraiser, or know a coach, teacher, or principal who would benefit, we highly recommend you check out coffee fundraising.

There’s a great video here about coffee fundraising.

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