How to Make your Fundraiser More Eco-Friendly

You already know how important it is to care for the environment through conservation and smart buying choices. Another great way you can make small but impactful changes is with your fundraiser! Here are a few tips to make your fundraiser more eco-friendly.

Go Digital

PDF Catalog: Use less paper by sending out the PDF version of our catalog instead of handing out the print version. Folks can easily browse the product selection and fundraiser info online!

Email Orders: Encourage people to submit their orders via email! We have created an Excel version of the order form that is included with the print catalog. Participants can fill out this order form and then email it to you, the organizer. Not only will this save paper, it’ll make your process easier:  instead of typing every order into the Master Order Form, you can simply copy and paste the information from the “Subtotals” column into the Master Order Form.

Below is the template for an email you can send along with the PDF catalog to introduce your fundraiser, your monetary goals and what you are raising the money for.

We are kicking off our annual fall fundraiser! This year we are partnering with Equal Exchange, a worker-owned co-operative that sells fairly traded, organic products sourced small-scale farmers from across the globe.

We are offering delicious chocolate, coffee, cocoa, tea, gift box assortments and more! The items are reasonably priced and our group makes 40% of the profit on every product we sell.

Our group’s fundraising goal is $X,XXX.

Together we can raise the funds to support:

  • ___________________
  • ___________________
  • ___________________

This year, we are going eco-friendly and will be using an online version of the fundraising catalog. Please consider saving paper by sending out the PDF version of the catalog to family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues who will be purchasing items.

We have also attached the order form to this email. You will fill out one column per customer. Once you have collected all your orders, please email this to me at [Enter Email]. Order forms are due on [Enter Date].

Please make sure you collect the payment at the time of the order. Customers may pay by cash or by check. If they decide to pay by check, they can make it out to [Name of your School/Organization]. Please also turn this in on [Enter Date].

Thank you for your support and please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns!

Promote Your Fundraiser on Social Media

Instead of hanging posters throughout the hallways of your school, use social media to promote your fundraiser. Here are some tips on how to promote your fundraiser online.


If you’d prefer to hand out the hard copy version of the catalogs, that is okay too! The catalogs are recyclable, so please make sure you communicate that with participants and your fundraising helpers. At the end of your fundraiser when you are distributing the products, make sure that you recycle all the boxes and packing paper .

Go one step further and share information with your participants about how to recycle our bags and wrappers, some of which have special requirements due to the nature of the products. Listed below is the recycling and composting information for each product.

Chocolate Wrappers: The outer paper wrapper is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified and also recyclable. If your local recycling center accepts No. 5 plastics, then the white plastic wrapper is recyclable.

Single Serve Cups: The cup is #5 recyclable plastic. The aluminum lid is recyclable and the filter is 88% compostable.

Tea Bags: The tea, bag, tag, and string are compostable. If the tea leaves are removed from the bag, the bag, tag, and string can be recycled.

Coffee Bags: To maintain freshness and quality, we use a foil and poly bag with a degassing valve in both applications. Unfortunately, there are no recyclable coffee bags available that can provide a needed barrier to keep coffee fresh.

Purchasing Organic and Fairly Traded Products

Just by choosing Equal Exchange’s organic products, you are supporting environmental stewardship and eco-friendly practices. Not only do organic farming methods protect farmers, the land and you from harmful chemicals, they contribute to healthier ecosystems, biodiversity and farm resilience.

As part of our alternative trade partnerships, farmers receive above-market prices for their crops along with an additional premium. These funds help farmers invest in their land, from farm renovation projects, to development of organic materials, to sustainability projects and more.

For example, our Peruvian cacao partners at Oro Verde are currently working hard to identify high quality, productive and disease-resistant cacao trees to build up an elite tree program allowing them to provide their farmers with improved varieties for the future. This includes a reforestation project that involves planting two million trees to help the co-op achieve a carbon footprint of zero! Learn about the work that our farmer partners are doing in their communities here.

How to Make: Autumn Spice Hot Cocoa


We have the perfect treat for fall! This easy-to-make spiced hot cocoa tastes like chocolaty pumpkin pie, and you’ll want to drink it all year long. This recipe makes enough for 16 servings, which we recommend storing in a mason jar. These jars make great gifts or items to sell at your harvest fair, fall fundraiser, or your congregation’s usual table sale. Watch the video to see how it’s made!

Holding mugs of autumn spice hot cocoa outdoors
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Autumn Spice Hot Cocoa Mix

Course Drinks
Keyword Cocoa
Servings 16



  1. Simply sift ingredients together in a bowl to make sure they are evenly mixed. Then, transfer to a jar and you’re ready to gift it, sell it or just keep it on hand in your kitchen.
  2. To make a single serving, take 3 tablespoons of cocoa mix and combine with 1 cup of hot milk or milk alternative. Stir well, and add marshmallows!

The key ingredient in this recipe is our Organic Baking Cocoa, which is made with organic cacao from CONACADO co-op in the Dominican Republic. This co-op is unique because the farmer members own their own cacao processing plant, which puts a key step of cocoa production into the hands of co-op members and farmers themselves. We’re proud to have partnered with CONACADO for over 10 years!

We hope you enjoy this fun fall treat. Thank you for supporting small farmers!

Boost Your Fundraiser by Sharing Your Values

I worked with my high school’s World Language Honor Society throughout most of my time in high school, and I loved every minute of it. The World Language Honor Society (called the WLHS by members) is committed to fostering awareness and understanding of other cultures while providing service to multicultural communities both locally and internationally. Our biggest projects involve visiting a Spanish-speaking after school program during the holiday season and donating backpacks full of school supplies to an elementary school in Haiti. These projects represent the core values of WLHS, and are a ton of fun. They do, however, cost money to run. WLHS projects require months of planning, and fundraising comprises the bulk of the planning process. For this reason, the success of our annual Equal Exchange fundraiser is absolutely essential for our projects to be successful.

Equal Exchange’s values line up pretty evenly with my organization’s values: international cultural awareness and respect. So, when it comes time to promote our fundraiser, we focus a lot on the good both organizations can achieve with the profits of our sales.

Personally, when I’m talking about the fundraiser to family members, neighbors, teachers, or my friends, I like to highlight specific uses of the money raised – usually by talking about my experiences participating in service projects and by explaining the meaning of “fair trade.”

A lot of my family and friends already know about the good that WLHS does for the surrounding community, but many people forget that our Equal Exchange fundraiser is beneficial to more than just our local community. Our members each receive a catalog of items that they can sell, and attached to each catalog is a paper explaining why we’re fundraising with Equal Exchange. When members get excited about the products they’re selling and the benefits they have for the international community, that enthusiasm spreads to anyone who might be interested in buying from our fundraiser – translating into more money for both our organization and for Equal Exchange.

In general, I find that people love to buy the quality products that Equal Exchange sells – and love it a little more when they know that their money goes to such a worthwhile cause. Emphasizing the link between our organizations through our members is one of the best ways for us to ensure our fundraisers are the best that they can possibly be.

When is a Bar of Chocolate More Than Just a Piece of Candy?

When is a bar of chocolate more than just a piece of candy? It becomes something more when it is used to educate students and encourage them to use their critical thinking skills, do real-world math, participate in the economy, and learn about other cultures.

High school campus budgets don’t always fund extracurricular activities, so students need to find other ways to support their clubs and sports teams. Fundraising is both a necessity and an educational activity. Students learn goal-setting, budgeting, and social skills. High Desert Young Writers, a creative writing club for which I am the faculty advisor, practices writing skills by creating newspaper articles and essays. Using Equal Exchange as one of the fundraisers, they also learn about being a global citizen.

When preparing for a fundraiser, my students first set goals for the year: what do they want to do? This year, they want to make club t-shirts, print an anthology of their writing, and go on a field trip. With goals in place, they create a budget. Armed with some very basic accounting skills, they do the math. They quickly learn that things are more expensive than they thought and their Associated Student Body (ASB) account doesn’t have enough to cover everything. The students then brainstorm ideas on how to raise the money. The list usually looks like this: car wash, sell stationery, bake sale, sell candy, beg. They often narrow it down to “selling candy.”

With the top contender chosen, they begin to list companies that do school/club/team fundraisers. There are many choices, and all offer different amounts of revenue. At this point, I suggest a “compare/contrast” table to help sort all the information. They make a chart with columns headed: percentage profit, prepaid, shipping cost, minimum order, quality of the product, etc. One company quickly gets eliminated with its requirement to prepay fifty cases and the shipping, which adds up to five hundred candy bars at $250 and $100 shipping. There are only six students in the club, and if they had $350 in their ASB account, they wouldn’t need to fundraise.

The decision to choose Equal Exchange’s chocolate doesn’t come easy. They like how it’s set up and believe they can make most of the year’s budget. The catalog contains a wide variety of items, but they are not something your average fourteen to eighteen-year-old would buy. As writers, these students tend to be the quiet ones, so the difficulty is the need to sell the product to adults. To get them to overcome this we role-play, practicing their sales pitch and learning how to communicate to peers and adults why they are raising money and why this product isn’t “just candy,” but is making the world a better place.

It is this last reason, making the world a better place, which gets them the most excited. I share with them the videos on the website. They are surprised that the common items in their house – tea, coffee, chocolate – often come from small farmers around the globe. We discuss how products move around the world, how our choices make us global citizens, and how small things (like a bar of chocolate) can make a difference.

With one small bar of chocolate, the students have learned many things and touched on many subjects. They have set goals (critical thinking), set a budget (math), chosen a product (economics), submit an Op/Ed piece to the school newspaper (writing) and learned how their actions could help others they’ve never met (social studies).  


Understanding Olive Oil Terms

When shopping for olive oil, you might notice a few terms commonly used to describe it: extra virgin, unrefined, cold-pressed, organic — but what do all these words really mean? Here, we’re going to define a few key olive oil terms to help you understand the way your olive oil was grown and processed, and what that means for you.

Extra Virgin
One of the most common terms you’ll see used to describe olive oil is “extra virgin.” This means that the oil is a product of the first pressing of olives. Olives are pressed to extract as much oil as possible, producing different tiers of quality. So, the first batch of oil that’s produced is “extra virgin” — after that, the olives are further pressed and processed to extract more oil, but the flavor and quality decreases from there. Extra virgin olive oil has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.8 grams per 100 grams. Finally, extra virgin olive oil must taste like olives and must not have any negative tastes that professionals refer to as “defects.” It is considered the highest quality olive oil, and you’ll want to use it in ways that highlight the inherent flavors and characteristics of the olives.

Extra virgin olive oil is made using a process called “first cold-pressed.” This means t
hat the oil was extracted (“pressed”) from the olives without exceeding 81.9 °F. No heat or chemical additives are used to extract the oil from the olives, which can alter and destroy the flavors and aromas of the olive oil. Without adding heat to the processing, the olive oil also retains its full nutritional value. Lower quality oils, on the other hand, are the products of a process which adds heat to the olives in order to extract the most oil possible, but the resulting product is diminished in flavor. Something to keep in mind: all extra virgin olive oils are cold-pressed.

Unrefined olive oils are the immediate result of oil pressing, and have not been processed or treated. These oils may have visible, tiny pieces of olive flesh or visible sediment — this is normal and desirable for flavor and nutrients. Refined olives oils have been processed to make them easier to blend with other oils. All extra-virgin olive oil is unrefined, but you might still see this quality called out on labels.

Organic olive oil, like other organic products, is grown and produced without the use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers or other harmful additives. Instead, farmers use alternative, sustainable methods to ward off insects and invasive plants, and develop natural, biodynamic fertilizers to encourage growth. These methods allow olive farms to flourish while preserving the surrounding ecosystems. Because olive oil is a raw food, and high quality olive oil is minimally processed, the potential for chemical exposure is high in conventionally-grown olives. With organic olive oil, you can feel better about avoiding these chemicals.

We hope that this guide has helped demystify olive oil just a bit! Once you understand these key terms, understanding what you’re getting (and how it got to you) becomes a lot easier. If you’re looking for an organic, fairly traded, extra virgin olive oil, try Equal Exchange’s special Nabali olive oil from our partners at the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee in the West Bank.

Tips for Your Holiday Sale

Holiday sales are a great way to bring Fair Trade gift options to your community, raise money, and share your group’s social justice mission. Here are some of our best tips for a successful sale!

Dress up your table Use a colorful tablecloth to make it festive and eye-catching. Organize products neatly and use vertical display racks to save space. Use our table signs, olive oil gift tags and brochures to share information and draw people in. We even offer authentic and inexpensive burlap coffee bags to display.

Offer free samples Everybody loves the chance to try something delicious, and odds are good that they’ll want to buy more once they have a taste! Break chocolate bars into pieces and arrange them on a decorative plate. (Don’t forget tongs!). Brew batches of coffee or hot cocoa and offer samples in small paper cups. The aroma alone will draw people to your table.

Team up with others Incorporate Equal Exchange products into a larger alternative gift market with other fairly traded items, like artisan crafts from SERRV and Ten Thousand Villages, symbolic gifts from Heifer International, or handmade products from artists in your community. Keep prices close to wholesale or mark them up to earn money for your church or social justice committee.

Share the mission You know that Fair Trade is important for our global community, and now is a great time to tell your own community why it matters. The meaning behind the products you sell will really set your holiday sale apart from the rest – so don’t be afraid to talk about it! Our talking points and brochures make it easy.

Promote your sale Announce your sale early and often. Let people know that they can do all of their gift shopping in one place and feel good about their choices. Spread the word in your congregation by making announcements during services, put up a sale poster in a visible area and use our customizable bulletin inserts. Promote to your broader community with announcements in newsletters, email lists and on your web site or social media pages, community bulletin boards and local news.

Try this example wording: “Give gifts that give more! Join us for our Holiday Sale [insert date, time and location] Give fairly traded, organic gifts this holiday season. Equal Exchange products are sourced from small-scale coffee, tea, cocoa and olive oil farmer co-operatives worldwide and profits from our sale go towards [insert your group, committee or reason for the sale here]. Through Fair Trade, farmers are better able to support their families, protect the environment and strengthen their communities.”

Set the right prices You can raise funds for special congregation projects, trips or activities by marking up your products 25% to 40% of your cost. Round up to the nearest dollar to help cover your costs and make giving change easier. Remember to tell folks what you’re raising money for — they’ll love being able to gift shop and help your cause! You can also make gifts more accessible by selling them close to the discounted cost you paid when you bought by the case. Sell multiple items at slightly reduced prices to help encourage more sales. An assortment of chocolate bars tied with a ribbon makes a beautiful, decadent but affordable gift!

For more selling tips, check out our general, comprehensive how-to guide. 

Read our favorite ideas for a festive and creative display with DIY and ready-t0-give gifts

Download the PDF of our Resource Toolkit  for our product and price list and a coupon code for your order


Meaningful Fundraising for Cultural Immersion Trips

As the Coordinator of Cross-cultural Immersions at the University of Dayton, I am always looking for new ways to help make our BreakOut and Immersion trips, domestically and abroad, more affordable. We have so many students who wish to spend time on their breaks working and learning in a new culture, community, and or country. We offer many opportunities to do so. But many students find the price tag attached to these experiences to be much too high. What is the answer?

One answer is to find fundraising opportunities for students to lower the cost of their trip. At the same time, your general run-of-the-mill fundraisers will seek out the cheapest items to sell, without paying mind to how, where, or by whom they are produced. Would it not be completely counter-intuitive to use products created through the exploitation of workers in, let’s say the Dominican Republic, to raise money to travel and be in “solidarity” with people in El Salvador? I would say so!

Enter Equal Exchange fundraising. How about using a system that ensures fair wages and dignity for those in the Dominican Republic, helps raise money for the student who wishes to travel, and allows that student to visit El Salvador, learn about its history and grow deeper in an understanding of human connectedness around the world? Sounds like a win, win, win.

Oh wait, one more win: most Equal Exchange products are grown organically and pay attention to how we treat this fragile and blessed planet of ours.

I am fortunate that I work at a university that is growing in its understanding of the importance of Fair Trade and walking gently on the earth. There continues to be room for improvement and education, which is another reason why Equal Exchange is such a fabulous partner.

In addition to providing incredibly delicious and quality products in their fundraisers, which are Fair Trade and environmentally friendly, EE offers a vast array of educational materials to help make the connections, for both the students selling the items and those purchasing them.

It doesn’t take long to convince me that fundraising through Equal Exchange is the right choice. But how do I convince our students?

Over the years, our fundraising efforts have morphed in a variety of ways. We used to participate in large group fundraisers, pooling the money and splitting it amongst all the participants. Although this is a good lesson in group bonding, collective resources and common good, I found, over time, that the students who really needed to raise money for their trips were doing most of the work, but the money raised was portioned out to all.

Something needed to change, so we moved to a more individual-styled fundraising model. Although we were already using the Equal Exchange fundraiser for the group, switching to students raising money individually was super easy. Each order is tracked individually and the percentage of money raised is indicated on the master order form. It really is a piece of cake (made with delicious Fair Trade cocoa)!

Now, I have many very motivated sellers, who are able to raise money to help alleviate some of the cost of their BreakOut or immersion experience. My office is a part of our Campus Ministry at a Catholic and Marianist University. It is in our mission to educate other on issues of social justice and equality. We are strongly guided by the pillars of Catholic Social Teaching, calling for a care for all of creation, solidarity with all peoples of the planet, and a preferential option for the poor, among others.

Photos taken by Julie Benedetto during a Cross-cultural Immersion trip with Christians for Peace in El Salvador (CRISPAZ) in January 2017.

Fundraising Feature: Mattole Valley Charter School

For the past two years, we have had the pleasure of partnering with Mattole Valley Charter School at the Mt. Shasta Learning Center in California for their Fair Trade fundraiser. With just two fundraisers, they raised almost $5,500 which was used towards classroom art supplies and field trips throughout the year, including trips to a pumpkin patch, an indoor climbing studio, Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay Exploration Park, and much more.

We wanted to hear more about this school’s impressive and inspiring fundraising efforts, so we spoke with Claudia Carpenter, the fundraising organizer, about her school and the Equal Exchange fundraiser.

“For the past two years, I have truly enjoyed supporting our school program with an Equal Exchange fundraiser! Our students, parents, and teachers especially like participating in a fundraiser where they can sell products that are socially and environmentally sustainable in support of small farmers around the world. Everything about the fundraiser lends itself to education. We can study geography, commerce, fair trade, the origin of food products. There are so many related topics that can lead to interesting educational discussions and activities for all ages.

We have a very small group of only 30 students in our elementary program from kindergarten to 8th grade. Yet, with Equal Exchange, the students have been able to raise enough money for all our field trips for the entire year.  Our students are able to enjoy programs and activities such as live theater performances, nordic skiing, ice skating, science and art projects, and camping trips. The kids like the chocolate too!”

Congratulations to Mattole Valley Charter School on their successful fundraising efforts!! Below are some photos of the students at Mattole Valley Charter School enjoying their field trips!

Fundraising Feature: Mattole Valley Charter School
 Fundraising Feature: Mattole Valley Charter School
 Fundraising Feature: Mattole Valley Charter School

If you’re interested in running your own Equal Exchange catalog fundraiser, you can find out more information and sign-up on our website.

How to Host a Coffee Tasting

Tasting coffee is a full sensory experience, from the moment you grind your freshly roasted coffee through to your last sip.  This guide (written by our Coffee Quality Control Manager, Beth Ann Caspersen) will show you how to hold your own coffee tasting to celebrate the hard work of the coffee producers who grow these special beans. 

What do you need?

Brewing your coffee is quick and easy! All you need is the coffee of your choice, coffee grinder, fresh filtered water, your favorite coffee brewing device and ceramic mugs to savor the delicious flavor. (Look to our brewing guide for tips and advice on preparing the perfect cup of coffee).

For the optimal coffee tasting experience, use ceramic mugs or thick glass cups with a wide mouth. This will allow the participants to enjoy the aroma of the coffee and their experience with the coffee. The natural elements you find in a cup of coffee can be best experienced if they are unadulterated, too — in other words, try the coffee black first and follow our lead on your tasting experience (but feel free to add milk and sugar at the end of the tasting)!

Step 1: Savor the Aroma

Once you have brewed your coffee, fill each person’s cup halfway and pass out the mugs.  We recommend using ceramic mugs to enhance your experience, and filling the mug halfway will allow the coffee to cool down quickly and provide everyone with ample space to fully appreciate the aroma.

Now encourage everyone to place their hands around their mug and inhale all that the coffee has to offer. Take a moment to think about the aromas you are experiencing.  What do you smell? Does the aroma remind you of something?  A different food or drink?

Step 2: Take a Sip

As the coffee begins to cool, continue to smell it and take a sip.  Now ask the participants about their experience. What does the coffee taste like now?  What are some of the flavors you are enjoying?

Before you reveal the flavor notes we’ve noticed, explore the many characteristics the coffee has to offer by using the Specialty Coffee Association coffee taster’s flavor wheel to help guide your conversation.  It’s fun and really helps everyone to learn about the complex world of coffee.

Step 3: Reveal the Flavors

After you taste the coffee for a few minutes and guide the conversation, reveal the flavor notes we find in the coffee, which are listed on the online product page. How was your tasting experience similar or different?

Explore our full line of coffees and taste them all! Comment below to share your coffee tasting experience.

10 Social Media Tips for Fundraising Success

In the digital age, promoting your fundraiser on your social media accounts is integral to your success! Is your fundraiser being seen by friends, family and coworkers as they browse their news feeds each day? Spread the word, send updates, and increase participation in your fundraiser by making the most of social media. Here’s how!

  1. Visuals are key. Use product photos and logos so people know right away what you’re offering. Pictures are eye-catching and will help you stand out in a stream of text updates.

  2. Start early. Make your first post two weeks before your fundraiser begins. Let people know what you’ll be selling, where they can get it, and when the fundraiser starts.

  3. Share your goals. Make your second post about the goals of your fundraiser. How much are you hoping to raise? What are you raising money for? People will be excited to know specifically what they are helping you do. Emphasize your start date here again.

  4. Announce the catalogs. Post a photo of the fundraising catalogs with a caption “Catalogs have arrived! Who is excited for our fundraising kick-off?” Make sure you emphasize the start date so parents will know to look out for the catalog.

  5. Upload a video. On your kick-off date, upload a video with a few students and staff members to announce the start of your fundraiser and share your excitement. Be creative and have fun!

  6. Make your posts public. Be sure that all the social media posts you make are shareable. That way, the parents who see it on their page can share it will their friends and family.

  7. Post updates! Throughout the fundraiser, keep people engaged by sharing fun facts about what you’re selling, quotes from kids excited about achieving your goal, or a photo of the stack of order forms that have already come in. These posts are a good way to remind folks when orders are due, too.

  8. Make a last-minute reminder. The day before the order forms are due, remind everyone with a fun graphic.

  9. Announce when your products have arrived. Take a photo of all the boxes and let folks know when they can come by to pick up their order.

  10. Share your success! After the fundraiser is over, share how much you raised or a photo of what the money went towards. This is a great time to thank everyone for their participation and set the stage for a great fundraiser next year.

Example posts from the Equal Exchange fundraising team:

We are excited to announce that we will be partnering with Equal Exchange for our fall fundraiser! With this fundraiser, we will make 40% profit from our school’s sales of fairly traded chocolate, coffee, tea, cocoa, and more. Look out for posts from us in the upcoming weeks to learn more about Equal Exchange.


This fall our fundraising goal is $5,000, which will go towards purchasing new laptops in the middle school. Our fundraising kick-off will be next Monday, September 25th, so don’t forget to check your child’s backpack for the catalog (pictured above) when they get home from school!


Our fundraiser kicks off on Monday! Interested in learning more about Equal Exchange, our fundraising partner, before the fundraiser starts? Watch their 2 minute video about Who They Are and What They Believe In!


We did it! We reached our fundraising goal. Thank you to all those who participated and helped make this possible! We hope you enjoy your products and check out the new laptops we were able to purchase with the money we raised.

And don’t forget to check out our Promote your Fundraiser page for more tips and resources!