My husband, Raymond, and I started offering our free youth programs, Rated T for Teen, through our local library in 2005. We started with a monthly games night, but expanded the next year to include a weekly craft group, and monthly video games and anime clubs. Initially, we had financial support from the library, but we had to find another way to raise money to pay for the games, food, craft supplies, and more.
While you’re creating
Provide very specific written instructions as well as explanations for why you’re doing what you’re doing so your crafters understand the process.
Consider who should do the bulk of the work, like melting waxes or soap or measuring out salts, given the skill level and age of your crafters. Enlist older or more experienced crafters to lead the group.
Encourage small scale experimentation with fragrances and colours for blends. You don’t have to use them if they’re awful, but there’s always a chance they could create something amazing, like spearmint-eucalyptus or lemon curd-cream cheese frosting! (Someone will want to combine all the colours to see what happens, even though we all know it’ll be brown!)
Use volume measurements for fragrance oils rather than causing a line up at the scale.
Create a clean table where crafters can sit and draw labels and cards for their products. (If you’re working with youth, you will definitely have at least one thing called “Unicorn Farts” or “Smelly Bum Salts”, but those can be for those they take home.)
Budget time at the end of the crafting session for clean-up, but encourage crafters to tidy as they go, putting recycling and garbage in the right containers. Set a time when you’ll be done and start counting down so people aren’t starting a project with five minutes to go.
After the project
Make sure they can bring something home after a day of creating to enjoy themselves, share with friends or family, or post on social media. This gives them a sense of satisfaction about what they’ve made and generate interest and sales.
Consider how you’ll provide an ingredient list and how it must be written. Can you fit it on a label or will you provide a card with the list written with INCI names?
Promote, promote, promote! Have everyone involved post pictures and descriptions on social media with clear ways for customers to find you. Someone somewhere has created a Facebook group for your town – join it! Ask your local community center, library, school, or coffee shop to post a yer on their bulletin boards or groups. Submit a notification to the community listings for your local newspaper, radio, or TV station.
Decide how you’ll distribute the products. Will you deliver or is there a pick-up day? How will you take in money and when? Who will be keep and be accountable for the funds?
Our youth wanted to help, so we found a few almost foolproof products they’d enjoy making in large batches, encouraged them to name their own fragrance blends, and helped them create hand-drawn labels and cards that reflected who they were and what we offered so purchasers had a sense not only of where their money was going but what all that racket in the multi-purpose room was about every Thursday night. These are my tips for a successful group fundraising event:
Before you start
Choose one project to start to see how your participants follow the necessary directions. We started with bath salts, but moved on to melt & pour soap, wax tarts, lip balms, tea light candles, and even a pedicure kit for Mother’s Day with fizzy minty foot salts, lotion bar, and scrub bar with pumice packaged in a decorated take out box with basket fill. Opt for projects that can be packaged in cellophane bags rather than more expensive bottles and jars. We wrapped our lotion and scrub bars in chocolate foils, and the rest in cellophane bags with ribbon or colorful twist ties.
Put the word out on social media and participants’ families for supplies as you’ll always find crafters with large stashes who’re happy to share for a good cause. Be very specific what you seek or you’ll end up with box after box of broken Christmas ornaments and tiny bits of string.
Think outside of the box for molds. Plastic or silicone ice cube trays and chocolate molds work very well and can be found at thrift, second hand, or dollar stores.
We’re so fortunate to have an amazing partner in our local supply shop who donates things from their warehouse, like melt & pour soap or candle wax, and collects packaging, fragrance oils, and equipment from the community.
Choose a few basic colors and fragrances, like vanilla, mint, or lavender as too many choices can cause “analysis paralysis” in your crafters, who may spend more time hemming and hawing about what to do rather than making products.
Consider making your product in colors or fragrances associated with your team, school, or club. If I were to make products for my elementary school soccer team, the Capilano Tyee, I could easily incorporate the red and white stripes in a layered bath salt, melt & pour soap, wax tart, or candle.
Make a trip to the dollar store for disposable tablecloths, cups, spoons, stir sticks, plastic bags, funnels, and more rather than spending hours cleaning up afterwards. Create a dirty dish bag for those things you can’t throw away, and bring more paper towels than you think you need...then bring more.