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Running a Holiday Cookbook Fundraiser

Updated: Feb 11, 2021

At The Multipurpose Room, we love the holidays! What better way to celebrate them than with a food themed fundraiser episode: Holiday Cookbook Fundraisers. Cookbooks are a lot of fun, especially when they involve cooking with the whole family. And imagine having a community-written cookbook with artwork from your own PTA’s students, now doesn’t that sound like something truly memorable? Here are the keys to creating a successful cookbook fundraiser.

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Create Your Timeline

There’s plenty of logistics work that goes into a cookbook project, especially if it’s organized as a fundraiser. There’s the timeline to look at, the tasks to complete, the deliveries, and much more. But of course, it’s up to you how complex or simple you want to make it, the bigger you make your project; the more it will demand from you. Here is what your schedule will roughly look like:

  • Gather recipes & artwork - 1-3 weeks

  • Edit recipes - 2 days

  • Layout book - 1 to 3 days

  • Print a proof - 3-7 days (shipping)

  • Edits - 1 day

  • Collect orders, place orders & receive books - 1 to 3 weeks

A couple things can really speed up this timeline. The first is by using a cookbook company to make your cookbook. They will provide you with a shareable link for recipe collection, have templates available for layout, and manage much of the order process. The second is creating an ebook rather than a hard copy book. This cuts out all shipping time. However, you should plan on 3 to 8 weeks to complete a cookbook.

Gather the Recipes

Recipes are the chunk of the cookbook – as long as you have recipes, you have a cookbook. PTA-made cookbooks are all about preserving family traditions and giving people a chance to experience new cultures from the diversity of the PTA membership. Although you can ask people to follow a theme (e.g. old family recipes, favorite holiday recipes) your cookbook success does not require you to follow a theme. In fact, sometimes the simplest of recipes turn out to be the best.

A good recipe number is anywhere between thirty and fifty, but of course, this is not to say that other numbers are unwelcome. In fact, from a fundraising point of view, the more recipes you include, the greater your funds are likely to be because those who’ve contributed will want copies for their family.

It’s also a great idea to add in little excerpts of where the recipe comes from, whether it has a sweet family story attached or how it came to be one of your favorites. Remember, the more personalized it is, the better.

And bestsellers tend to be filled with sweet recipes so make sure you have a good representation of desserts!

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Layout your book

Visuals are an extremely important part of the project, and the organization you’re collaborating with will assist you with this. While you have the option of choosing a templated layout, it is great to fill the images with something personal to your school or with actual pictures of the recipes. Some popular ideas for the artwork include food-related art by children, pictures of the food made by the kids (or the family), or family photos of the family submitting the recipe. Since the PTA is all about your community, you should do something that represents that community.

When selecting layout and artwork, keep in mind your color selection - will you do black & white, all color, or a mix. The first thing to consider is cost with black and white pages costing far less than color. The second consideration is the look of the book & the pictures submitted. Many pictures will not work well in black & white unless you ask for those pictures from your community. A good ratio is 80% black & white, and 20% color. Ask for artwork or photos in both black & white and color so that people are considering this when they submit.

Final Touches

Once you’ve gone through with the process of putting in content and having it all set up, it’s time to finalize your cookbook. It’s always advisable to order a sample so you can check for any errors and make any final edits.

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Next, determine the price of the book. If you follow the color guidelines above, you can expect to pay about $7 a book. Typically groups charge $15-$25/book. Then, determine the order process: will you manage orders and distribute books yourself or will parents order directly from the cookbook company. If you are managing orders and distributing yourself, you can expect one shipping charge for a heavier box. If parents are ordering directly, you can expect each parent to shoulder the price of shipping (about $6-8) and that should factor into your pricing.

Finally, you have to cook your recipes and share pictures of your results on social media! This will promote your PTA/PTO activities as well as encourage others to share and engage with your group. It is always good to have an option for a second round of orders once you start sharing those pictures.

So, there you have it, the A to Z of how to run a holiday cookbook fundraiser!

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