Fundraising for Small Groups Newsletter

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December 14, 2018

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Fundraising with Cookbooks

by Deane Brengle

Cookbooks have been popular fundraisers for years. They started out with church and women's groups and have now spread like wildfire. It's because they can be produced by almost any size group, club, team, or nonprofit organization. Much of the increased popularity can be attributed to the use of the internet by cookbook publishing companies and the ease of producing a cookbook online.

Despite the spread of cookbook fundraisers, they remain a good source of fundraising income.

  • A custom cookbook is unique to your group.
  • They aren't overly difficult to produce.
  • With the right marketing they sell well.
  • They have a long shelf life and can be sold year round.
  • They are a popular gift item around the holidays.

How It Works

Custom cookbooks are, by far, the most popular option when it comes to fundraising with cookbooks. A custom cookbook allows you to use your members' recipes, personalize the cover, choose from different layouts, choose the binding, and include pictures in your cookbook.

Your group will collect recipes and pictures from your members, family, and friends and submit them to the cookbook company. The company prints your custom cookbook and ships them to you. Payment is required up front.

Getting Organized

Start with a little planning.

  • Who will lead the project?
  • What are the goals of your cookbook fundraiser?
  • What will be the design of the cookbook?

Many hands will make light work with your cookbook fundraiser. A committee of 6 - 8 members will help spread the work with gathering/submitting recipes and with sales.

The cookbook publisher you choose will have an established process for you to follow. Be sure you commit to a publisher, contact them, and understand their specific requirements before you start to collect recipes and pictures. Things to look for include:

  • Guidelines
  • Formats
  • Pricing
  • Payment plans
  • Upfront costs
  • Minimum order
  • Shipping costs
  • Typesetting arrangements
  • Reprint procedures
  • Scheduling requirements
  • Free cooking hints and starter recipes for you to use
  • Selling materials for your group

Profit Potential

The profit you make from your cookbook will vary depending on how large your order is. The more books you order the cheaper each one is. It will also vary depending on the makeup of your cookbook. Color covers, pictures, and overly large books (over 200 recipes) will increase the cost.

A good rule of thumb is expect to at least double your money. So, if your cookbooks costs $6, it should retail for at least $12.

Another rule of thumb is expect to sell 3 cookbooks for every recipe contributor. This will help you decide on how many cookbooks to order.

A great way to reduce the cost of your cookbook is to include advertising. Just a few ads can significantly reduce your costs.

Sales Secrets

There are several ways to increase the desirability of your cookbook which will increase sales:

  • The uniqueness of your cookbook- give it a special twist.
  • Cover design- choose a cover that has broad appeal.
  • Keepsake quality- don't go cheap.
  • Photos- everyone likes to see themselves.
  • Keep it specific to your group- spreading the focus for your cookbook can make it bland.
  • Proof read carefully- pay attention to the spelling of your contributors names.
  • Customize divider pages- colored stock, artwork or photos add appeal.
  • And above all- keep it personal and user friendly.

A technique used by some groups is to pre-sell your cookbook. Taking orders and collecting money before you order will reduce your out of pocket expenses when you publish.

Always order extra copies and make sure your cookbook information is stored by your publisher for reprinting later.

Other suggestions to increase your sales:

  • Make it an annual event, bring out a new cookbook each year.
  • Include sales coupon and ordering information in each cookbook for others who may be interested.
  • Push your cookbooks at the holidays as a gift idea.
  • Ask businesses and bookstores to sell your cookbooks.
  • Display your cookbooks at all your meetings, events, and any time your group has a get together.
  • Advertise in your newsletters, emails, website and any time you contact your members.
  • Give cookbooks away as door prizes, raffle prizes or as an auction item.

I've spent some time and researched all the publishers offering cookbook fundraising programs and I'm recommending for all your group's cookbook fundraising needs.

They offer an easy to use online format for entering all your recipes and step by step instructions for creating your cookbook. They even offer a free sample cookbook so you can see what a finish product will look like and an online calculator to help you figure your cookbooks cost.

Find out more about fundraising with


About the Author:

Deane Brengle is the editor of several free online publications that cover fundraising for small nonprofit groups. You can visit these publications and read more about fundraising in articles by him and other experts in the field at The Fund$Raiser Cyberzine, The Fundraising for Small Groups Newsletter, and Fundraising Booklets.

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