Unique Fundraising Ideas

The Cookbook Fundraiser: A Recipe for Success

At Double the Donation we specialize in providing matching gift tools to help nonprofits raise more money from corporate philanthropy programs. Our friends at Causera published this great post on Bake Sale Fundraisers [June 2015 update – Link to original article no longer working] that we wanted to share.

The Cookbook Fundraiser: A Recipe for Success

A creative, fun, and potentially high grossing fundraiser is the cookbook fundraiser. Popular among schools, churches, and nonprofits, this fundraiser is both challenging and rewarding. With the cookbook fundraiser it is important to begin the process with a vision of the finished product. Establish a dedicated team of volunteers and a detailed timeline of due dates, and your cookbook will come along more quickly and efficiently, and ultimately leads to greater returns for your cause. It is duly important to set clear and firm goals for your organization. Hold frequent meetings with your team and ask questions about your objectives.

Question Time

How long of a cookbook do you want to create? How many recipes will you include?

  • Longer cookbooks will cost more to print, but they allow for more recipes. The greater number of recipes that your book contains allows for a more premium product, a larger number of built-in buyers, and a bigger network to sell to.

How will you go about sourcing these recipes?

  • Do you have enough contributors for the cookbook? Who will provide the recipes? For schools and churches, parents and parishioners are a great resource for recipes. If your book is short on recipes, take to the internet or branch out to the greater community for more input.

How many cookbooks can you sell?

  • If you and your team are doubtful about the number of cookbooks that can be sold, then this fundraiser may not be as effective for your cause. Try asking parents, and around your school or church, to gauge interest in purchasing the cookbook.

How much money do you need to raise and is this congruent with how many cookbooks that you can sell?

  • Setting the fundraising goal is crucial. The money you make is directly dependent on how many willing buyers you have.

What resources will you use to create the cookbook?

  • Is this going to be an at home project with one person collecting recipes, creating the book, and printing and binding the pages alone?
  • Will you use an online software to create a professional book? With professional books, you often have to pay in advance to have the books printed. This means that your organization will have to pay upfront costs and the leftover books are a loss.

Who will be the editor?

  • Will one person run the entire project or are multiple people spearheading the work? Figure out what works best for your group and delegate jobs! Having multiple volunteers proofread is a great way to catch errors and typos before going to print.

These are all important questions that you should ask yourself and your team before beginning the groundwork on the cookbook. Detailed answers can save your group time, valuable resources, and may help you determine if the cookbook fundraiser is the most effective way to raise money for your cause.

Tips for Success

After working out the logistics of the project, its time to begin. A great way to spark interest and get recipes is through marketing. Personally asking for volunteers to contribute recipes, taking to social media and advertising that the cookbook is in need of contributions, setting up a website, making phone calls, and sending text messages and emails are all great ways to drum up interest in the fundraiser and receive recipes.

Set up a simple recipe card, both in print and online, with clear instructions – spaces for a unique title, ingredients needed, cooking instructions and times, pictures etc. –  for contributors to fill out. A recipe card takes the guesswork out of the project and creates a standard for the recipes. Every recipe will have the same format, which makes proofreading and organizing easier for the editor(s).

If your cookbook receives too many submissions, that’s no problem! An easy fundraiser can be created out of a seemingly difficult problem. By setting up a “Recipe Cook Off,” where contributors cook their dishes and votes are taken on which recipes get featured in the book. At the cook off you will be able to market the cookbook, raise funds, and finalize the submissions.

Once all of the pieces are collected for the cookbook, it is time to assemble the final version of the book. Having different of types of foods and a solid distribution of appetizers, main dishes, desserts, etc. are important. As well, a central theme, cover, binding, dividers, colored ink, title page, appreciation page, pictures, table of context and index are all important things to include in your book.

After organizing the final copy, find an effective way to print the cookbook that keeps costs low. Will your editors print the books at a local copy shop, or will they use an online service to create a more professional looking book?

The pricing and terms for each online service varies. It is important to note that you may have to pay upfront costs to print the books. Although costly, these interactive cookbook services will help you make a quality finished product with the aide and ease of technology.


Just as there are numerous ways to create your book, there are an equal amount of ways to sell it. Pre-selling the book is a great way to get a more accurate count on how many books you will actually sell and it can help pay away the upfront costs associated with some of the professional services. You can hold pre sales throughout the process of creating your cookbook and even at the “Recipe Cook Off.” Moreover, reaching out to local businesses to buy advertisements in the book is an excellent way to drive down the upfront cost of the book so that all sales that follow are purely profit.

Using your initial team of volunteers as a sales force is an effective way of utilizing your existing help to turn all of your hard work into dollars. Friends, family members, and the greater community will love buying a book that holds the recipes of their friends and loved ones.

Using social media, technology, and the community to your advantage is an important tool when selling the book. Websites that allow you to sell the book online, getting local newspapers and radio stations to promote it, and announcing over social media that “The cookbooks have arrived!” can make the difference between a few and hundreds of books sold.

Your Finished Cookbook and a Successful Fundraiser

Creating a fundraising cookbook is a process that may take a significant amount of time, effort, patience, and resources from those involved. Although the initial work is tedious, the finished project is one that can be enjoyed far past the sale of the book and the spent proceeds.

If you surround yourself with a loyal and hardworking team, arm yourself with a detailed timeline, and source the best means to print and sell your book you will have finished your cookbook and a successful fundraiser.