Quick facts

Elementary SchoolType of Organization

$16,000Amount of Money Raised

750Number of Students

37%Participation Rate

Oakley, CALocation of Fundraiser

At Gehringer Elementary, every week someone has to go out and change our two marquee signs, even when it’s raining. For years we’ve been talking about getting an electronic marquee, but there was never enough funding for that kind of project – until now.

I had been assisting our PTA Fundraising Chairman for some time, and when he stepped down, I was asked to take over his full responsibilities. For the past seven years we’d been using another cookie dough company for our big fall fundraiser, but I babysat for a little girl whose school used Otis Spunkmeyer, and I found myself buying more cookies from her than from my own children! I brought the Otis Spunkmeyer cookie dough catalog to our fundraising meeting, and our board decided to switch to Otis.  It was the best change we could have possibly made – after switching, our sales doubled! We made over $16,000 profit with our cookie dough fundraiser.

I think the quality and selection of dough available with Otis Spunkmeyer made the difference with the parents. What got the kids motivated and excited about the sale was the incentive program. Our students were tired of the small prizes they got from the other company. The more achievable prizes were cheap, and broke within hours of getting them home, and in order to win the higher level prizes the children had to sell as much as 300 items. With the incentive program we structured with Otis Spunkmeyer, the targets were more realistic.

We selected the incentive program Faye, our Otis fundraising representative, set up, called “Rolling in the Dough.” How it works is you spread out cash – ones, fives, tens, and so on -- on the ground, wrap the kids in tape, and let them roll once across the money. Any cash that sticks to them, they keep. In order to roll in the dough, the kids only had to sell twenty tubs of cookie dough.

When we presented “Rolling in the Dough” at the school assembly, they were so excited! I think it really motivated them to sell, and the result has been incredible: this year we’ll have about 40 kids rolling. Our top seller sold 62 tubs, and we had three or four students sell over 40. Our participation rates were so high, and we have so many kids who reached their goal, that our PTA actually added more money to the pile to make sure there are enough bills to go around.

Promoting our cookie dough sale was key. In order to get the word out, we put posters all over the campus, and whenever I saw the kids around school I would talk to them about their selling and do anything I could to keep them motivated. Maybe you’d call it going the extra mile, but I had a couple of kids hand in their forms early, and when I realized they only needed a few more tubs to reach one of the goals I called their families and let them  know how close their child was to one of the incentive levels. In nearly every case, they’d come through with a few more orders.

Another factor in our success was bilingual outreach. I speak Spanish, and we have a significant Hispanic population at our school. I realized that in the past, we had a lower participation rate with those students, so I found out how many Spanish speaking households were in each classroom, and I included a Spanish version of the cookie dough fundraiser announcement letters in the take-home cookie dough seller packages for those students. I also began approaching some of those parents at the PTA meetings, speaking to them in their own language and recruiting them as volunteers. We’ve seen a significant improvement in participation from the Spanish speaking families this year, and I think it will continue to climb. It is so great that the whole community can come together with this fundraiser!

This was my first time running a cookie dough fundraiser, but my Otis rep was really helpful, and we were always on the same page. She would call to touch base, and give me ideas about how to keep organized and motivate the students and volunteers. With the fundraising company we used in the past we had to unload the delivery ourselves, but the Otis team took care of all of that, verifying the count and stacking the cookie dough by flavor in our elementary school lunch room.

Because of budget cuts over the last few years, our fundraising has largely had to go toward new technology in the school and assisting the teachers with classroom supplies. Now, our big goal is that new electronic marquee. We’re on our way to that goal, but just to make sure the kids stay excited about fundraising, this year we’ll take about $1700 from our profits and hold a BMX assembly for the kids. It will only be a small portion of what we made, but it will mean a lot to the kids to see the results of their fundraising efforts. I hope it will help to motivate them for future fundraising events as well.

It was great working with Otis Spunkmeyer, and we raised twice as much profit compared to the other brand of cookie dough we used in past years. From a customer service and product perspective, they were twenty times better than the last company we used. As it turned out, “Rolling in the Dough” wasn’t just an incentive program to motivate the kids – it’s what became a reality for Gehringer Elementary!

Angie Garabay
PTA Fundraising Chair
Gehringer Elementary
Oakley, California





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