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Spotlight: School Catalog Fundraiser vs. Candy Bar Sale

By Clay Boggess on Mar 16, 2019
Spotlight: Candy Bar Fundraiser or Brochure Sale?

Learn whether a catalog or candy bar sale works better for your school

If you’re school’s been doing catalog fundraisers each year, how do you know that this type of sale is best for your school? Choosing the right type of fundraiser is more important than picking the next best catalog that promises to make you a lot of money. Taking a step back and making sure you’re first doing the right type of fundraising program can be a daunting task considering there are so many fundraisers to choose from. There are a lot of things to consider, like affordability, order processing and delivery.

Do you want your students to take orders out of a brochure with pictures of items for sale inside, or should you order the product first, and then ask your students to sell it as they collect the money? To answer this question, it would be a good idea to consider the pros and cons to each fundraising type to determine which one might be the best option.

If you’re undecided about whether you should take orders and collect money doing a brochure fundraiser, or an ‘in-hand’ candy bar sale, perhaps the following information might be of benefit.

1. How a Fundraising Catalog Works

With the catalog fundraiser, each of your students receives a brochure and order form. After showing the brochure to potential supporters, one or more items are selected and recorded on the order form.

Money is normally collected by the group when the order is placed. At the end of the sale, the order forms and money are returned to the sponsor who then forwards them to the school fundraising company.

Once the order has been processed, it's then delivered to the school. The students who participated in the sale then pick up the boxes with their names on them and deliver the items to the people they sold to.

So what are the pros and cons to the catalog fundraiser?


  • Receive the exact number of items that have already been paid for. No under or over-ordering issues to have to deal with.
  • Items are prepacked by seller. No item sorting at delivery.
  • Prizes are offered to every student who participates. With a candy bar fundraiser, often only the top sellers get prizes.


  • Requires an additional step of delivering items to customers. Selling candy bars only requires meeting with the customer one time where the exchange of money for the product is made.
  • May require dealing with occasional broken or missing items. Parents usually have a certain period of time to report any brochure item discrepancies.
  • The occasional student might go out and collect money in exchange for orders, but never turn the money in. Even sponsors have been known to take funds.

2. How Candy Bar Selling Works

The school sponsor first places an order for candy bars based on how many potential sellers they think they’re going to have. This is done on consignment through the submission of a purchase order. Once their order arrives, candy bar carrier boxes are distributed to group members who then sell the candy bars directly to neighbors, family and friends.

Money is collected at the point of contact, then turned into the sponsor at the end of the fundraiser. The average selling price is $1.00 to $2.00. Candy bars are very popular products that are able to be immediately enjoyed.

Now, what are the pros and cons of a candy bar fundraiser?


  • Only one contact with the purchaser is necessary to complete the sale. Catalog fundraising requires two different steps. Take the order, then deliver the product.
  • They're affordable to most people. This is seen as an advantage, particularly to high school groups because sales can also be made to their peers who usually don’t carry a lot of money in their pockets.
  • They're often seen as an impulsive buy. You see it, you want it and it’s cheap.


  • If you order too much, you may be stuck with extra product. This can be turned into an advantage because you can always ask you students to sell the leftovers.
  • Prizes are usually only offered to the top sellers. This can discourage participation.
  • The sponsor has to collect money after the product is distributed to the sellers. Some sellers may keep the product and not return any money. Or they may lose the product. Issues have been reported involving leaving it in the back seat of a car.

See our candy bar fundraiser products

So which fundraising program will you choose for your school?

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