Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Fundraising with a Cherry on Top!

Dandy DonFundraising resources come in many forms. Recent articles at Fundraisers.Com have focused on beneficial technological and information resources. This month we offer a slightly more homespun flavor in our resource area.or should we say 101 different flavors. Yes, it's time to get savvy about the finer points of adding an ice cream social to your local fundraising event.

Dandy Don is a connoisseur of hot fudge, caramel sauce, crushed nuts, sliced strawberries, rainbow sprinkles and maraschino cherries - delicately dancing atop dazzling ice cream sundaes. Scooping, serving, and sprinkling may not be aerobic activities, but Dandy Don's Homemade Ice Cream & Sundae Bar Catering maintains a frenetic pace while working with small and large charitable organizations alike.

Make-A-Wish-Foundation, Special Olympics, Red Cross, Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Starlight Children's Foundation and Boys and Girls Clubs are some of the larger groups Dandy Don has dished with. He's also helped smaller groups in Southern California scoop up extra fundraising funds with ice cream sundae bars at charitable events. They include the Friends of Robinson Garden, LA Shanti, and the Club Culinaire Francais.

Dandy Don BoothDandy DonCharity auctions, tasting events, and fundraising dinners are examples of venues where ice cream adds that extra sprinkling of fun. After all, they didn't coin the phrase "Ice Cream Socials" for no reason. Sundae bars bring out the inner child in attendees at black tie suppers and more casual charity events. Scoops of ice cream drizzled with toppings, whipped cream and a cherry makes everyone a little more..social.

Dandy Don offers tips from years of experience in his for-profit business and a winning record of partnerships with charitable organizations. Don says, "You can easily sell a two ounce ice cream sundae - half the size of four ounce sundaes from ice cream parlors - for $2.00 or more at fundraising events." Supporters of charities don't mind the price because proceeds are going to a worthy cause.

Don adds, "I always recommend collecting the money in advance. It helps project what you really need on hand for attendees. You can lose money by buying more than you can sell." He repeats his advice again for added emphasis, "Never do it on 'spec.' Always pre-sell the event."

Partnering with a local ice cream shop is a great way to go according to Dandy Don. "You can usually get the ice cream shop to promote the event along with your organization so you're getting double coverage." Ice cream retailers may offer their products at cost or if you're really lucky they'll donate some or all of the ingredients for an ice cream sundae bar.

Three ScoopsAdding an "ala mode" option to bake sales can also increase sales by fifty cents an item. Don says, "Charging fifty cents for a scoop of vanilla ice cream on a slice of pie or a piece of cake can increase profits at bake sales which are always great money makers."

Don does have some basic advice for those wishing to get supporters screaming for ice cream. He advises, "Don't buy the big three gallon containers at food warehouses. By the time you get to the bottom the ice cream will be melted and messy." It's that old penny-wise and pound-foolish caution. "Most large retailers carry ice cream in five quart containers. This size is your best bet for profitability and ease of service," he says.

"You also need to have plenty of volunteers on hand to scoop. The fewer hands scooping the greater your chance of melting ice cream," according to Dandy Don. He adds, "When it's possible, I try to pre-scoop ice cream into individual bowls. Teams of two per tub work well. The bowls can be stacked in large ice chests and brought out as needed." Pre-scooped bowls of ice cream need to be refrozen for two - three hours before serving. Don says to plan your time accordingly.

Dandy Don urges EXTREME caution when handling dry ice. "Only adults who are thoroughly skilled with handling dry ice should go near it. NEVER let children come in contact with dry ice." Curiosity can tempt even adults to touch or taste dry ice. "Second and third degree burns can happen quickly. Handling dry ice is like handling fire," Don says. When in doubt, don't use it. Ice and dry ice should be placed on top of ice cream in coolers. "Remember, cold air falls and hot air rises," he adds.

ToppingsToppingsYou can expect to get approximately 30 scoops out of a five quart container. Plexiglass containers or large ice chests can usually be found at party rental agencies. "Keep in mind the sun will always be an issue for outdoor summer events using ice cream. If possible, toppings are best served under a cover of shade, as most toppings melt at 80 degrees F. During the summer, always hold ice cream events indoors," Dandy Don advises.

Hot fudge isn't always practical for ice cream sundae bars. Don says squeeze bottles of chocolate sauce usually cure the chocolate craving. He also says buying packages of cookies and candy bars and crushing them yourself is a money saver. "Rainbow sprinkles are more popular than the chocolate ones and you can find them in most candy aisles," according to Don, "Whipped cream in cans is a also good bet."

For that gourmet touch, fresh fruit can be sliced on site. In Don's experience, "People love to see the food being prepared. Any kind of fresh fruit can be sliced right at the ice cream bar." Strawberries, kiwis and bananas are popular choices.

PintsIf there's a large ice cream distributor in your area, they may offer a mobile freezing unit for serving ice cream novelties at local fundraising events. If not, dry ice can be used to keep novelties frozen prior to being purchased by attendees as fundraisers.

Rewards for meeting your group's fundraising goals are an important gesture when teaching younger people about the value of giving and serving your community. Most of the groups Dandy Don's serves for achieving their goals are advised, early on, that their reward will be a Hot Fudge Sundae Bar with all the trimmings.

Don says he always serves his 'Top Ten Toppings' at thank you parties for hardworking fundraisers. Young people recognize the generosity of this reward because they eat sundaes regularly and know the cost of extra special toppings.

Hard workers who made or exceeded their goals know that their ultimate sundae vision will be a reality when the community's goal is met. Don says, "Next time, give your best winning effort more than just another pizza. Always let the kids put lots of toppings on their sundae!" He adds, "They earned their reward. If they do over indulge, they might learn that too much of a good thing (especially sweet treats) requires moderation."

A few succinct testimonials prove the power of ice cream as a valuable resource for fundraisers. Here are a few words from organizations that have benefited from Dandy Don's generosity and delectable sundaes.

From the AIDS Project LA: Dandy Don, thank you so much for your time and your delectable contributions to our event. Summer Party was a huge success and you helped us raise thousands of dollars to benefit AIDS Project Los Angeles.

From Temple Knesset Israel: On behalf of the Board of Governors of Knesset Israel, please accept our sincere thank you for donating the ice cream for our 75th Anniversary Celebration. Everyone loved the ice cream and was pleasantly surprised to know it was kosher.

From Make-A-Wish-Foundation: Thank you so much for participating in our 8th Annual Wine Tasting & Auction. Your stand was one of the most successful. It certainly made for a fun evening.

Go to Dandy Don's website for more ideas in the "catering" section. You can also read many more thank-you notes from organizations that discovered the nostalgic draw of ice cream sundae bars at fundraising events. You'll scream, they'll scream, we'll all scream with delight over funds raised with ice cream.