Food fundraisers work well for many groups because they’re consumable. Convenience is also a factor because when we buy prepared food from students, we don’t have to purchase it from the grocery store and prepare it ourselves. Most nonedible gift items tend to collect dust over time. However, we all have to eat, thus there is a built in natural demand for food items.
Another advantage is that many food sales aren’t subject to sales tax. However it’s important to make the distinction between food that’s prepared for immediate consumption and food that’s prepackaged. Many states define taxable food as food being served on a plate with a knife and fork. In other words, food that’s intended to be eaten right away is generally taxable with some exceptions
In most cases, selling food falls under the nontax category; however we still recommend confirming this with your state’s department of revenue. For more information on sales tax for food brochure fundraisers, see our tax guide.
In a recent PTO Today article, there are 3 important factors to consider before deciding to sell food. One is the quality. If people like how it tastes, they'll be more apt to purchase it the next time. Another consideration is timing. Make sure that no one else is selling a similar item at the same time. And third, you might want to focus on foods with a higher nutritional value if your area emphasizes healthy eating. Here are the pros and cons to 5 popular food fundraisers:
1. Cookie Dough Fundraisers
Most cookie dough comes conveniently pre-sliced and ready to go in the oven. And even though you may be able to buy it that way from the store, taste and quality tend to be better when purchasing from a cookie dough brochure. Otis Spunkmeyer cookies is a well-known case and point.
Cookie dough fundraising has pretty well saturated the marketplace. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to make sure that no one else in your area is planning to sell it at the same time. Many groups are also leaning towards more healthy alternatives; although they historically haven’t sold all that well.
2. Boxed Chocolate Fundraising
Chocolates are popular food fundraisers that literally sell themselves. Boxed chocolate brochures have a higher but affordable retail price than candy bars, thus groups make more money per item sold. Buyers can also choose from a variety of chocolates, such as chocolate covered peanuts and pecan caramel clusters.
And in most cases, unlike direct sale items like candy bars, items found in food brochures can be sold on campus during school hours.
On the contrary, compared to a candy bar fundraiser, selling boxed chocolate is more expensive. Candy bars typically sell for $1.00 which is a convenient price point and makes an ‘impulse buy’ much easier for many.
3. Prepared Frozen Food
Prepared frozen food offers convenience to the buyer because in many cases you’re talking about ‘thaw and serve’ items, like cheesecakes. Other items like pizzas and burritos only have to be heated. Another advantage is that groups selling from the typical frozen food brochure can offer a nice selection of items. And since these foods are prepackaged and not ready for immediate consumption, there’s normally no tax involved.
Unlike many other food fundraisers, frozen food cannot be left unrefrigerated for an extended period of time, even at room temperature. Thus, extra planning is necessary to ensure a smooth distribution of student orders. One thing that’s often overlooked is having a contingency plan for orders that aren’t picked up on delivery day.
4. Food Mixes
Food mixes take the worry out of a delivery because there’s no refrigeration required. Many variety food brochures carry certain mixes that otherwise would not be practical, like Louisiana Gumbo and Texas chili.
Even though food mixes make deliveries easier, they’re not so convenient once you’re ready to prepare them. For example, our cookie mix requires that you add eggs and butter before baking.
5. Snack Food Fundraisers
Snack foods are also popular food fundraisers because they’re convenient and reasonably priced. We all need something quick and easy to fuel our ‘on the go’ lifestyles. Buyers usually have a good selection to choose from.
Allergies can be a concern for many consumers, especially with foods containing nuts. It’s always a good idea to disclose the ingredients to potential buyers so they can be informed prior to making a purchase.