I'm a long time lurker, first time poster. Many thanks to this website and its members. You all helped me choose my enrober and cutter and I have gotten great honest answers to several questions here.
Recently I have been contacted about donating a table at a college fundraiser. It is a very nice event with clientele in my target market. I had already donated a 2 session class for four people to the silent auction when the Friday event chair contacted me about the sample night. They want 3 tastes per person with 800 people expecting to attend. I would cut the truffles into 3-4 pieces and have 2 different ganaches that I would give sample tastings of. I can also fill in with less labor intensive things like chocolate covered Oreos and bark.
The chair keeps telling me what great "exposure" this would be for me.... but I don't want to expose myself into bankruptcy either. It would be fun to do some show pieces to get my name out and work the event. It would not be horribly expensive product wise but definitely expensive time wise. I would not be able to sell retail at the event and I do not have a storefront so no one would be able to rush to my store to buy my candies.
I keep going back and forth in my mind. I would appreciate any thoughts, comments or concerns.
Thanks in advance,
Opening a chocolate shop immediately puts a target on your back for every non profit company and worthy cause to approach you with their hands out. It's crazy!!!!! I get an average of 3 per week. Silent auction items, grab bags, table settings, and the list goes on. You will always hear them extoll the virtues of what great exposure you are going to get and how good it is for business, and how you will get honourable mentions, your logo printed on the menu or brochure, and even exposure in some of their print ads.
THE BENEFIT YOU GET IS A TOTAL LOAD OF BUNK!!! DO NOT FALL FOR IT!!! THE PERSON SOLICITING YOUR CONTRIBUTION IS NOT BEING DISHONEST. THEY SIMPLY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT.
I empathize with the volunteers commissioned with the arduous task of soliciting donations. After all they want to keep the cost of the event to a minimum while giving their attendees a maximum bang for their donation.
I have tried all of them - silent auctions, grab bags, place settings.... you name it. The amount of business I got from the thousands upon thousands of dollars of product I've donated and hundreds of hours of time I've donated has been ZERO, ZILCH, ZIPPO. Here's why: People go to these events to socialize, eat, drink, and have fun. They don't think about remembering the chocolatier or the caterer, or the company who donated the flowers. If you don't believe me, think about the last event YOU went to, and name off a few of the donors. If you were able to name two, you are spectacular.
Now, I'm not saying don't give back to the community. Choklat does, and does so in a big way. However, the manners in which my company donates is a win-win. Here are a couple of examples:
When I started getting bombarded with requests, I didn't want to say no, and I didn't want to just ignore the person. Like I said above, they have a difficult job - asking for donations. I put this program in place, wrote a polite form letter explaining our programs, and invited them to participate in any of the programs if it fit within the parameters of what they were trying to do.
You too can do the same thing (by that I mean a form letter and a program that you find acceptable). There is nothing wrong with offering to sell your product to the event at your cost, or at a substantial discount. However you aren't a "non profit", and don't be fooled into thinking that the caterer is donating the meal. If they really want chocolate, they can work a buck or two into the cost.
Yes... Believe it or not, I can be empathetic at times! Shhh! Don't tell anybody. I'm still basking in the glory of my reputation for being combative and petulant! :-)
I have attached a copy of the form letter for your reference.
Wow, thank you Brad!
I appreciate you taking the time to reply and share your experience with me. I do think we are in the type of business that gets the "touch" alot. I decided not to donate boxes of candy or gift certificates anymore because they get lumped together in a basket with 5 other unrelated things to try to get a bigger donation and nobody appreciates or remembers any of it. Your reply has given me two alternatives to the handout and I like the win win approach. I am a big believer in giving back but it felt like I was giving away the farm in the process.