Popcorn Fundraisers: How to Set Up, Manage & Sell a Popcorn Fundraiser

Popcorn Fundraisers: The Three Levels

What’s involved in popcorn fundraisers?

That depends on how much work a group wants to put into the project.

There are basically three levels: Easy, Moderate, Difficult.

Let’s look at each one of these levels.

Buy popcorn in bulkLevel One--buy popped popcorn in bulk.

The Easy Level basically has three steps:

1.   Buy popped popcorn in bulk

2.   Bag it in smaller bags

3.   Sell the smaller bags

Buy unpopped popcorn and popModerate Level--buy kernels and pop them.

The Moderate Level has a few more steps:

1.   Buy un-popped popcorn

2.   Pop the popcorn

3.   Bag the popped popcorn

4.   Sell the bags of popcorn

Grow your own popcornDifficult level--grow your own popcorn.

The (really) Difficult Level has lots of steps and takes a long time:

1.   Grow the popcorn

2.   Harvest the popcorn

3.   Dry the popcorn

4.   Pop the popcorn

5.   Bag the popcorn

6.   Sell the bags of popcorn.

Dry the popcornDifficult Level--dry the popcorn

Now that’s a LOT of work. But one school district has done just that. 

Pender High School is a rural school located in Burgaw, NC. The school grows popcorn on its campus. They also process it—some 700 pounds of popcorn!

For more information about Pender High School's popcorn project click here.

Popcorn Fundraisers: What's Involved

Let's take a closer look at some basic steps that are needed, no matter which level you choose.

Is the purpose of the fundraiser to send people to camp?Is the purpose of the fundraiser to send people to camp?
Is the purpose to send the marching band to competition?Is the purpose to send the marching band to competition?

One of the first questions to determine is what is the purpose of the popcorn fundraiser?

  • To raise money for a special event, like camp or band activities?
  • To raise money for special students such as sending disabled students to a special camp or activity?
  • To raise money to assist students within the organization?
  • To raise money to donate to a specific cause?
  • Or some other purpose?

It's important that everyone involved in the fund raiser knows exactly what the purpose of the fund raiser is.

It also helps in advertising to explain the purpose of the fund raiser.

Another matter is who needs to give permission for the fund raiser?

  • A school official? 
  • A scout master? 
  • A coach?
  • Some other adult?
Who needs to give permission for the fundraiser?Who needs to give permission for the fundraiser?

How will the person be approached?

  • In person?
  • By telephone?
  • By email?
  • By written request?

Who will be responsible for getting permission?

What permits will be required? Who will be responsible for getting the required permits?

Is a permit needed?Is a permit needed?

Which level will you use:

  • the easiest (buying popped popcorn), 
  • moderate (buying kernels and popping) 
  • or the most difficult (growing, harvesting, drying, popping).

Finances are importantFinances are important to consider.

Now you need to look at finances.

  • First will be the cost of the popcorn.
  • Will you work with a company or vendor that specializes in popcorn fundraising or will you purchase the popcorn on your own?
  • If you are just purchasing the popcorn in bulk (popped or un-popped) where will the funds come from to buy the popcorn? 
  • If you work with a vendor do they help with anything other than selling you the popcorn?
  • If working with a vendor, what all will they provide?
  • Where is the vendor located? The closer they are to you the less the cost of transportation.
Many questions need to be answered.Many questions need to be answered.

Who will make the decision as to which level you will use (buy popcorn or kernels)?

How will the decision be made?

Another consideration is who will be in charge of acquiring the popcorn?

Popcorn Fundraiser: Preparing the Popcorn

Lots of questions to be answered when preparing for a fundraiser.Lots of questions to be answered when preparing for a popcorn fundraisers.

More questions:

If you are using level one (buying popcorn in bulk), where will you stuff the smaller bags? You need to be sure the area is clean; the smaller bags are new; the workers are wearing plastic, disposable gloves; and the scoops used are clean.

Be sure the scoops are cleanBe sure the scoops used to scoop popcorn into the bags are clean.

If you are using level two (buying kernels and popping the popcorn), where will you pop the popcorn? Who pops the popcorn? Who will provide the popper and what type will it be? Again, you need to make sure the area where the bags are filled is clean; the bags are new; the workers are wearing plastic, disposable gloves; and the scoops used are clean.

If you are using level three (growing your own popcorn), you may want to contact Pender High School for their suggestions.

Another area for consideration is advertising. Will you have students make posters? Will you need to advertise on radio stations that advertise community events? Will there be any funds for advertising or will it all be free?

Advertising is important. How will you advertise your popcorn fundraiser?Advertising is important. How will you advertise your popcorn fundraiser?

Popcorn Fundraiser: Organizing for Selling

Selling popcorn at school during HalloweenSelling popcorn at school during Halloween
Selling popcornActually selling the popcorn!

How will the students sell the popcorn? Will there be a booth in a central location--like at school? Will students sell at lunch time? Will students sell on their own--like setting up tables in shopping malls? If students are selling on their own, please be sure there is at least one adult with them.

How many bags will be given to each student selling? Where do they take the money after selling?

Popcorn Fundraiser: After Selling

Who will be responsible for collecting the money from the popcorn sold?Who will be responsible for collecting the money from the popcorn sold?

Once the selling time is over, there are still more questions to answer.

  • Who is responsible for clean-up?
  • Who will count the cash?
  • Who will pay the vendor if they haven't already been paid?
  • Who takes care of the profits?
Ahh--the profits makes it all worthwhile.The profits make it all worth while. Hopefully the group knows where the profits will go.

So many things to consider. There are dozens (maybe even hundreds!) of Popcorn Fundraiser Vendors who will help you if you want to go that route. But they will take a share of your profits, so choose carefully.

Do you have experience with running a popcorn fundraiser?

If you have had experience with a popcorn fundraiser, or have more suggestions, please tell us about them.

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