Eco-fundraising Made Easy and Profitable

bake sale

Photo by Tannazie by permission under the Creative Commons Share-Alike License 2.0

Updated 6/25/2012

Although it is still October, the holiday season will be upon us sooner than you think. In anticipation of this season, PTAs, charities, and religious organizations all over the country will be unveiling holiday fundraisers in the form of holiday wrapping paper, cookie dough sales, and mugs and calendars for grandparents. This is only some of the possible fundraisers that schools, religious organizations, and other community groups sponsor throughout the year.

I know as a parent I hate these fundraisers.  How much gift wrap do you need? I could not eat another cheese cake or order anymore stationary for my children.  How many trees have we cut down in the name of fundraisers? How much sugar have we consumed in order to supplement needed programs at our community organizations?

Don’t get me wrong. Fundraising is necessary to supplement the income of an organization, institute special programs, or provide supplies which are needed. Unfortunately, the amount of hours needed for some fundraisers and the money earned has caused organizations to rethink their fundraising strategies.

What if there were new fundraisers that were available that were fun, easy, and had an environmental purpose? With the news constantly bombarding us with global warming issues, people are trying to make a conscious effort to be aware of their impact on the Earth.

Would it be easier to market a “save the Earth” fundraiser rather than a tired old fundraiser that has been done over and over again? It is worth a shot.

Just to give an example, a couple of years ago, my school joined Staples’ Recycling for Education program, which I am in charge of. We collect inkjet print and laser toner cartridges and send them back to Staples for money.

This fundraiser is a no brainier and people drop off their cartridges in a box in the school office. In turn, our school collects $3 for each eligible cartridge and we are doing our part to keep our share of print cartridges out of landfills.  (Note, Staples is now only giving rebate money now for cartridges.)

Are there any other fundraisers out there that either are as simple as Staples’ or at least parents could buy something benefiting the Earth, such as a “feel good fundraiser”?

Here is a list of the “no brainier” fundraisers where all people have to do is drop off the requested collectible in a box at the school or any community organization. Many of the organizations pay for shipping as well. I have provided a brief synopsis of these fundraisers and urge you to click on the link to read more about these programs, or visit my site during the week when I will go into more depth about these fundrasiers.

Staples’ Recycling for Education collects HP, Dell, Cannon, Sharp, and Lexmark ink jet cartridges and assorted toner cartridges, and in turn pays $3 per eligible cartridge to your organization. Note, my experience is that you are paid for about half of the cartridges that you send to Staples. Others are deemed ineligible since they may be defective. (Update 9/2008:  Staples has changed their program. They only pay in Staple dollars.  I switched to EcoPhones but I don’t think they pay very much. I am looking into other companies.)

TerraCycle (the worm poop fertilizer company):They collect Dannon and Stonyfield yogurt cups, 20 ounce soda bottles, and drink pouches. Many of these items end up in a landfill because either they cannot be recycled (drink pouches and yogurt cups) or people choose not to recycle them. Payments vary for each item collected.

Right now, the soda bottle brigade is on hold until TerraCycle finds a corporate sponsor due to rising shipping costs. (If you work for a large company, consider pitching to your company why they should sponsor this program.Read the link for more information.) My school is instituting the yogurt collection brigade this month.

Note, TerraCycle has a gazillion recycling fundraising options.  Each month they seem to have a new campaign.

Phone Fund:  A fundraiser based upon the collection of phones, PDAs, laptops, and digital cameras with payments ranging from $1 to $6 per working piece of electronic equipment. All nonworking equipment is recycled appropriately. Emphasis is on reducing the waste stream of electronic equipment by refurbishing and reselling such items in a secondary market.

Recycling Fundraiser (formerly known as EcoPhones):  The Company collects all sorts of working or nonworking electronic waste such as cell phones, ink jet print cartridges, DVD movies and video games, laptop computers, MP3 players, portable GPS devices, digital cameras, digital video cameras, digital picture frames, portable DVD players, and video gaming consoles. They are now collecting gold jewelry as well. In return they pay up to $300 for phones, but on average pay about $10-$25 for certain models, and up to $5 per inkjet cartridges, but on average $1 to $2 per cartridge. Check their updated price listfor payouts for specific electronic equipment.

Listed below are companies that offer fundraisers with an environmental purpose, but require your community members to buy products.

Laptop Lunches: A fundraiser that will transform your child’s lunch from wasteful to tasteful and kinder to the Earth. Your average child’s lunch contains plastic bags, paper bags, aluminum, juice boxes, and plastic utensils which all end up in a landfill. Choose between the Laptop Lunch or Lunch Date systems (for adults or bigger eaters), which contain the necessary accessories to reduce lunchtime waste. In addition, each lunch system comes with a book of helpful hints to create nutritious lunches. A portion of the profits are paid to your school. A minimum of 20 items must be ordered.

ReuseThisBag.com:  A fundraiser with low cost custom imprinted recycled grocery bags made out of recycled polypropylene that will help to reduce the amount of plastic and paper grocery bags that are produced. By simply saying “no thank you, I have a bag” at the check-out line of the grocery store, you will be stopping the depletion of our natural resources in order to make paper and plastic bags . In addition, plastic bags are littering our streets and oceans and a plastic bag takes 450 years to degrade. The suggested price for selling the bags is $4 with a cost of $1.50 to the organization. Show your school spirit or market your organization as well as  your commitment to the Earth. 500 bag minimum order for custom imprinting.

Green Sparks Redemption Book: A new green entertainment book by fundraisinggreen.com due out in December, 2007 at a cost of $30.00. Each participating school keeps between 45-50% of what they sell, depending on the volume sold. In addition, the Company gives a further 10% of its profit to Green Ambassadorsand Earth Resource Foundation, Fundraisinggreen.com has partnered with many online vendors, to help busy families make environmental choices in their every day lives from green living products to pet food to vacations.No pre-orders are required. Simply set up an account and community members can order themselves and the same will be delivered to their home. This is a zero-maintenance fundraiser. Click here for a list of some of the online vendors in the book. This company is no longer in business.

Smencils This funny sounding product is pencils made out of recycled newspapers and scented in ten different smells. Their motto is saving one tree, a pencil at a time. There are two different programs: Pre-scented smencil buckets, which contain fifty pencils and sold by the case.There are 10 buckets in a case. Each pencil should be sold for $1 and your organization can earn a 46 percent profit.

The other program is 20 Semcil mini kits per bucket, in which ten bucket comprise one case. The Semcil mini kit contains scents that you add to the provided pencils. Suggested price for each kit is $2.00, with an organization obtaining a forty-five percent profit. Greater quantities are available with higher profit margins. Many items are not available until November 6. 2007.

Milkmuny:  Fundraising through the collection of certain milk and juice cartons.  See my article about this Company.

So next time the discussion of fundraising is broached at a meeting, suggest the above fundraisers. These fundraisers provide real ife lessons to teach our communities about what is valuable in our lives and at the same time monetarily benefiting our community organizations. Sounds like a win-win strategy for the Earth and our communities.

For more sources, be sure to check out my newest eco-fundraising article.


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Comments

  1. 1

    Mindful Momma says

    Very great post! Love the ecophone idea and I had no idea that Laptop Lunches had a fundraiser program. A couple more ideas…my son’s school sells Peace Coffee (our local, fair-trade coffee purveyor) and Blue Sky Guides (also known as EcoMetro Guide) which are ‘green’ coupon books available in a number of large metro areas.

  2. 2

    Green Talk says

    I always love your comments and congrads on being in the top 35 eco blogs! I went to check out Peace Coffee, but could not find out any info on their site about a fundraiser. Is this only a local Minneapolis, Mn. fundraiser? I have to admit this is a very neat coffee company with the fact that they deliver coffee beans locally on bikes to help save fossil fuel, and their trucks use biodiesel fuel for deliveries outside the reach of bicycles. You can check their website to see if they offer coffee beans in your area.
    http://www.peacecoffee.com/

    Thanks for the tip on the fundraising aspects of EcoMetro’s Blue Sky book for the Twin Cities. It sounds similar to the Green Spark’s entertainment book, except Green Sparks offers online retailers or local coupon books for the following areas: Orange County/Long Beach and Greater Los Angeles areas.

    In addition, EcoMetro produces other local eco guide/ coupon books: Chinno Book (Seattle metro area) and ones in East Bay, and Portland/Eugene areas.

    See EcoMetro’s site at http://www.ecometro.com/twincities/default.aspx then go to your city as listed above.

    Thanks again for your comments.

    Readers, check out the above additional sources for your areas.

  3. 3

    Mindful Momma says

    As far as I know, Peace Coffee is just a local, Twin Cities thing. But I bet there are plenty of eco-friendly coffee roasters in other metro areas who would be willing to do a fundraiser. What I like about coffee is that it is something I buy anyway. We do our fundraiser all year round, not just once a year.

  4. 5

    Lisa Van Huss says

    I am so happy that I found this site! Our school was just certified a “Green School”! I am on the Fundraising Committee and I am making it my goal to have Purposful Fundraisers.

  5. 8

    Green Talk says

    Lisa, that’s great! Where is your school? Also, take a look at my articles about coupster and Project Kool, which offer school fundraising as well. Project Kool is a lunch bag fundraiser started by a 12 yrs old and Coupster (which may not be in your area yet) is receiving coupons through your cell phone so to reduce cutting down trees in the name of coupons.

    Check back often since I add to the school and not for profit fundrasiers. If you find any as well, let me know.

    Also, thanks for the compliment about the site. Tell all of your friends! Anna

  6. 10

    Green Talk says

    Karina, thanks for the add to the topic! Everyone loves coffee so this would be a great fundraiser. Anna

  7. 11

    Cindy says

    I’m glad I found this I was wondering why we had not received our bottle brigade boxes from terra cycle and you can’t get thru on the phone #. Any other ideas where to recycle soda bottles for fundraising? Thanks!

  8. 13

    Green Fundraising Mom says

    Hi, All. I’m so glad I found this blog and online community!

    I’m an environmentally-conscious mom and I head the Community Activities Committee for my daughter’s school in Wilmington, MA. To all parents and school administrators: if you’re looking for a fresh, new fundraising idea, think Green Fundraising! We recently held a Green Fundraising Event and it was a huge success!! We raised over $8K for the school. I found that people were so much more willing to participate because we were selling only green products.

    There are a few online companies that can help you with your event and where you can buy the eco-products. We used Mother Earth Fundraising to purchase all of our green fundraising products and I’d highly recommend them. Great customer service and their eco-products are all 100% environmentally friendly materials.

    Here’s their website if you’re curious: http://www.motherearthfundraising.com/

    If anyone else has held green fundraisers, I’d love to hear other stories too.

    Anyway, hope this helps and stay GREEN!

    Lori Lavin
    Enviro-Mom
    Wilmington, MA

  9. 14

    Michelle says

    Hey Moms,

    After reading about how interested all of you are in going green and sharing it with your childrens schools I think you would be really interested in checking out my green fundraising program!

    Check out http://www.greenstudentsfundraising.com

    We sell Laptoplunches, Klean Kanteens, Plantable greeting cards and dryerballs. There is no cost to the school to run the program I am so confident you will love it!

    Let me know your thoughts! michelle@greenstudents.ca

  10. 15

    Green Talk says

    Michelle, I went to your site and love your fundraiser. The only thing I am not a fan of is the dryer ball because you are heating up plastic with your clothes. You should consider adding in smencils to your list. Are you running this in the US too or only Canada right now?

    Great idea. So much better than wrapping paper! Anna

  11. 16

    Bill Schwartz says

    If Jane/Joe the Plumber knew that two billion people worldwide didn’t have safe drinking water would she/he:
    –take shorter showers?
    – turn off the running faucet when brushing her/his teeth?
    – stop watering the yard at one in the afternoon?

    Green Foot Forward believes small steps lead to great strides and that every Jane and Joe would make those changes and more.

    Our belief that all people regardless of political or religious stripes want to protect
    the environment motivated us to create ECO DECK with original art work and 52 eco tips, facts, and solutions to a more productive and informed greener life.

    So whether your favorite card game is Bridge, Poker, or Crazy 8s, playing with ECO DECK will improve your green I.Q. with every hand and just might remind you to turn off the kitchen light when the game is over.
    http://www.greenfootforward.com

    Editor Note: Bill forgot to mention that the products can be used as fundraiser for schools.

  12. 18

    Randy says

    Raise Funds while Raising Awareness

    Many schools and organizations are looking for fundraising programs that support a cleaner and healthier way of living. Our products not only help the environment, they also help people in need. Fundraising plays a significant role in gathering money for worthy causes, whether it’s improving education, funding programs, saving lives, or any other worthy cause.

    What better way to raise money for these issues than to use environmentally safe and healthy products? Not only will you be helping those in need by purchasing these special items, but you will be making a lasting contribution towards the future of our planet.

    Pics Canada has discovered an innovative way to provide consumers with an alternative to disposable paper or Styrofoam cups. These stainless steel to-go mugs and water bottles are eco-friendly, free of Bisphenol-A (BPA) and allow for the consumer to design and decorate their own mug with photos, artwork, embroidery and more.

    In Canada: http://pics-canada.com
    In USA: http://pics-usa.com

  13. 19

    Kimberlin Tan says

    We developed a new fundraising concept that may be of interest to your audience. Not only is it easy, it also helps students build their vocabulary and spelling skills!

    Schools, youth groups, and churches can create a free 30-day trial to our online vocabulary and spelling tutoring program at http://www.eSpindle.org/trial.
    A personal support manager assists your organization to help get started quickly and effortlessly. Schools can stage a competition to boost motivation. A push of a button reveals who has studied the largest number of words during the trial.

    Regardless of whether the school decides to buy a sitelicense at the end of the free trial, or individual parents sign up for a membership, we will donate 20% of all proceeds to the organization’s fund drive. Rewards are also paid on renewals, and our average membership is more than two years.
    For more info, please visit http://www.espindle.org/fundraising_ideas.html
    eSpindle Learning is a nonprofit organization that matches paid memberships with free scholarships to disadvantaged students. Everybody wins!

    In addition to this effective and easy fundraising program we provide a range of valuable resources, and host an academic, global event for all ages, the online Word Cup.

    For more details, please swing by our website or visit our online slideshow at http://www.eSpindle.org/sintro.html.
    eSpindle also offers various partnership/referral programs; if you would like to learn more, please contact us for more details.
    Feel free to call me at my cell phone 707-508-9144 if you have questions.

    Thank you!

  14. 20

    cheap inkjet cartridges says

    Hi,
    Many schools and organizations are looking for fund raising programs that support a cleaner and healthier way of living. Our products not only help the environment, they also help people in need.
    Well Great article. I have sent several of our people to read.
    Thanks for sharing.

  15. 23

    Green Fundraising says

    You may want to take a look at http://www.korufundraising.com , a leader in the fundraising industry as it was founded by Corey Berman, the original person to create a green fundraising company. Profits at 40% plus, the only fundraising company a member of 1% for the Planet and the leader in environmental education, its worth taking a look.

    Corey
    .-= Green Fundraising´s last blog ..Hello world! =-.

  16. 24

    Green 4 My School says

    “Small steps will make a big difference” is the philosophy behind Green 4 My School (http://www.green4myschool.com/) simple online fundraising with a potentially extraordinary impact. Schools sell award winning E-cloth, the highest quality microfiber in the world, new in America. Developed for Swedish hospitals, E-cloth’s advanced fiber technology cleans surfaces mechanically, not chemically, using only water to remove dirt, grease and bacteria with microscopic precision. Machine wash and dry 300 times. With E-cloth you’ll have a healthier home by eliminating chemical cleaners, you’ll save money by reducing paper towels and cleaners, you’ll save time because cleaning is faster and easier and you’ll help the environment by lowering the carbon footprint of your household and saving trees. E-cloth ships FREE to the customer and school earns 28% profit. Maria

  17. 25

    Debbie Wright says

    We’ve been creating beautiful organic t-shirts for a while now – with great, flattering designs – made of our exclusive Bamboo-Fit fabric. It’s eco-friendly, and each shirt sports an important environmental message. Our shirts come with a plantable hang-tag – that when planted will grow beautiful wildflowers. Each hang-tag has a special registration number, that – when registered on our website, will allow Seed Sucker to make a donation to our non-profit foundation – which plants mature trees in areas devastated by natural disaster.

    We’ve just started our ec0-awareness fundraiser program, and schools and organizations can choose from a standard catalog fundraiser or run their fundraiser online – through our website and gain 25% of the sales. In the end, (thank goodness) the supporters get a great looking t-shirt instead of cookie-dough, wrapping paper or plastic wrapped candies – and the kids and everyone get to help us raise awareness “one t-shirt at a time”!

    Thanks for writing this article – I’m so thrilled to see the movement taking to the fundraiser arena over the last couple of years. We always knew we wanted to do organic apparel – and the fundraising side is such a bonus to help schools and organizations raise money while raising eco-awareness.

    Debbie

  18. 26

    Brian & Norma Musler says

    Hello everyone!

    It’s hard to believe that 2010 is upon us already. 2009 was a tough year. The economy is yet to bounce back and we realized that if you can just stay in business your doing better than half the businesses out there. We haven’t reached out to you lately but we just wanted you all to know that Soy Valley is still here!

    We have started 2 new fundraisers, one for the holidays with fragrances like Bayberry, Holiday Java and Jack Frost. We also have one for all year round with other fragrances like Eucalyptus, Clean Cotton and Black Ginger & Bamboo. Our fundraisers are simple to use and are instant 50% profit for your organization. What we mean is there’s no waiting. Once the fundraiser is over you keep ½ the money and send us ½ the money giving you instant profit for your team, company, school, church or other organization.

    WITH A FUNDRAISER WITH SOY VALLEY CANDLE MAKERS YOU CAN ENJOY THE BENEFITS OF:
    50% PROFIT FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION.
    5 STYLES, 15 FRAGRANCES PLUS 4 SEASONAL FRAGRANCES OR 20 HOLIDAY FRAGRANCES FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS TO CHOOSE FROM.
    FREE DELIVERY OF KIT AND CANDLES TO ANY SINGLE U.S. LOCATION.
    A SIMPLE AND EASY TO USE FORMAT.
    3 TO 4 WEEKS DELIVERY TIME*.
    INSTANT PAYMENT BECAUSE YOU PAY US!
    KNOWING THAT YOUR OFFERING YOUR CUSTOMERS A U.S. MADE, HEALTHY ALTERNATIVE TO PARAFFIN WAX CANDLES.
    OUR PERSONAL GUARANTEE OF QUALITY AND SATISFACTION.

    OUR FUNRAISER KIT INCLUDES:
    ORDER FORMS COMPLETE WITH PICTURES, FRAGRANCES AND THE BENEFITS OF USING SOY CANDLES.
    A SIMPLE TO USE TALLY SHEEY FOR YOUR ORGANIZER.
    LETTERS TO THE PARENTS (FOR CHILDREN RAISING FUNDS) EXPLAINING THE WHAT, WHEN AND WHY’S OF THE FUNDRAISER.
    *ON 150 FUNDRAISERS OR LESS

    Spring is almost here so book your fundraiser now and be the first to enjoy all the benefits of natural, American made soy wax candles from Soy Valley Candle Makers!

    Visit our website at http://www.soyvalleycandles.com

    • 27

      Green Talk says

      Readers, I have used Brian and Norma’s products. They are really good! Great fundraising idea. Anna

  19. 28

    100 Fundraising Ideas says

    Great post (don’t ask me why it took 2.5 years for me to find it). I haven’t heard of most of those fundraisers but they sound incredible. I especially like the ones that really tap into school-aged families, like the lunch box idea.

    A few other ideas to add to your list:
    -Organic food sale
    -Locally-sourced produce (when I was in school we sold oranges for band, but they were from South America so they didn’t support the local economy)

    Also, I think schools overlook the chance to just ask for donations. There are tons of parents in our community who would rather pay $5-$10 than buy more pizza kits or candy they don’t need. :-P
    .-= 100 Fundraising Ideas´s last blog ..Fundraising for Animal Charities =-.

    • 29

      Green Talk says

      100 Fundraising Ideas, great suggestions. Which fundraising ideas are most popular from your point of view? Anna

  20. 31

    James@Discount Nail Polish Rack says

    Sounds like these eco-friendly fundraisers would turn more profit than the conventional one’s we’re used to seeing. Back in the day, my elementary school held a “jog-a-thon” where parents/relatives would sponsor students to run “x” amount of miles around the track. Not only was this consistently a big hit, but the exercise was extremely beneficial to the students. I would like to see more of these constructive attempts at fundraising in other schools.
    James@Discount Nail Polish Rack´s last blog post ..Who sells the Kayline PD1 Nail Polish Display for Cheap

  21. 33

    Ruthie Oland says

    Hi Friends,

    Great post!

    Also, check out Equal Exchange Fundraising -100% organic & Fair Trade and earn 40% for the school!

    Make money and Make a difference.

  22. 34

    Nory Oakes says

    Anna,

    Great post. You aren’t the only one tearing their hair out about cookie dough and magazine fundraisers. Time after time, parents tell us that they are sick of seeing the same old fundraisers and are looking for something more unique and Earth-friendly.

    Our company is helping to address their concerns. We offer earth-friendly items, such as Bug Smack-Down! and Bug Smack-Down for Babies – insect repellents made with herbal and essential oils, right here in our little corner of Connecticut. We also sell micro-fiber cloths, to help wean people off their addiction to paper towels, green cleaning kits, essential oils, and soaps made from virgin coconut oil and herbal essences.

    Check us out!

    http://www.healthy-planet-fundraising.com

    In partnership for healthier households, thanks!

    Nory

  23. 37

    Mary Lonergan says

    We couldn’t agree more – it’s great to see more and more school Green Teams and fundraising coordinators getting together to run successful fundraisers that are also good for the planet. Taking the time to also educate the kids on the why they need to care for the earth helps to make the green fundraiser even more successful.

  24. 39

    Tera says

    My business partner and I started a brochure based fundraising company selling reusable bags, all-natural hand sanitizers and soaps and green household cleaners. We were frustrated with the typical frozen foods and wrapping paper options and decided to do our part in making a change. We wanted to offer a catalog of green and practical items that parents and community members could actually use. Check out our website, http://www.goodcleanfunds.com/ – hope you enjoy it!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Additionally, the Company offers fundraising opportunities for not- for- profits through their CrayonBin Pencil Case program.  Each case contains a set of eight recycled crayons in a pouch, six pencils, an eraser and six inch ruler. For more information, about fundraising, contact the Company. It would be great if they could partner with Terracycle’s recycled pencill pouch and Smencil pencils! [...]

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