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? 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).
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.
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 that 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.
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
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.
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!
If you’re interested in running your own Equal Exchange catalog fundraiser, you can find out more information and sign-up on our website.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Make a last-minute reminder. The day before the order forms are due, remind everyone with a fun graphic.
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.
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.
And don’t forget to check out our Promote your Fundraiser page for more tips and resources!
This summer, the Equal Exchange interfaith team traveled around the country to events celebrating our faith-based partnerships. We were excited to meet and talk with so many of our supporters and hear about the work that they are doing in their communities. Meet some of our extended Equal Exchange family and read their stories below!
Wherever Marion Bell travels, including to the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in New Orleans, she brings the following with her in a special bag: Equal Exchange French Roast coffee freshly ground the night before she leaves, a pourover brewer and filters, a small electric water kettle, and a porcelain coffee mug. She wants to drink socially-just coffee wherever she goes and clearly takes it seriously!
Rev. Tim Bobbitt of First Christian Church in Alexandria, VA shared this great photo with us at the Disciples of Christ General Assembly in Indianapolis, Indiana. For Father’s Day, his two sons knew exactly what he wanted and gifted him bulk bags of Equal Exchange coffee beans.
At the Disciples of Christ General Assembly, Rev. Robert Bushey of Central Christian Church in Bourbonnais, IL shared photos of his incredible Fair Trade parade float with giant Equal Exchange chocolate bars! They sell Equal Exchange products at their local farmer’s market to encourage folks to support small farmers globally, too.
In Minneapolis, MN at the Women of the ELCA Triennial, Alice Carlson from Advent ELCA in Middleboro, MA told us that our baking cocoa is the best she’s ever tried!
“How does it go from cacao to cocoa?”
Darlene Brewer & Justin Schwartz of Wyndholme Christian Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia loved our dried cacao pod and shared an impromptu song and dance with us at the Week of Compassion booth at the Disciples of Christ General Assembly.
Ariel Aaronson-Eves and Rev. Sam Teitel ran into each other at the UU General Assembly in New Orleans after not seeing one another for years. They posed in front of the Equal Exchange booth for old time’s sake.
Ariel and Sam were two of the first wave of baristas who worked at the Equal Exchange cafe in Boston 9 years ago!
Rev. David Hutchinson (in a vintage Equal Exchange tee shirt) is the pastor at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Houlton, ME.
They’ve served Equal Exchange coffee at the church’s “Cup Cafe” for six years. It’s also a fizz bar with italian sodas and a music venue. Visit them off of the last Maine exit on I-95N to stop by their cafe or stay at their Airbnb!
Mr. Equal Exchange, Peter Buck, shared a table with Rachel Brink of Foods Resource Bank at the Church of the Brethren Conference in Grand Rapids, MI.
In New Orleans at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly, we met John Adrian from United Church in Staten Island, NY. John told us that he never liked dark chocolate until he had an Equal Exchange bar! Equal Exchange: converting milk chocolate lovers since 2001.
We visited Jenni Heimach at Irvington Presbyterian Church, one of our top church customers in Indiana and saw her in action selling and sampling Equal Exchange products after services. Profits from their weekly sales pay for their Fair Trade, organic coffee hour.
We hosted an Equal Exchange coffee tasting at St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church right in our own backyard in Boston.
We’re always happy to help fuel conference-goers! Nathalie Bigord of UU Congregation of Gwinnett said that munching on our wholesome Fruit and Nut Bars helped her survive the 6 day long Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in New Orleans.
Chocolate lovers unite! At the Women of the ELCA Triennial we met long-time Fair Trade chocolate fans Karen Edwards and Kathleen Sumrall of Trinity Church in Sparta, WI and Gretchen Jensen of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in LaCrosse, WI.
Meet Jann McIsinr and Dawn Hassle of Milwaukee Lutheran Church, pictured at the Women of the ELCA Triennial in MN. Jann told us, “The coffee that you served at the New Attendees Breakfast was the best coffee that I’ve had the whole time here.” Thank you, Jann, we love hearing that!
To all of our partners and supporters, we thank you for the work that you do in your congregations and communities to promote economic justice for small scale farmers. We loved getting to know you better and hope to see you soon!
When you’re making coffee, what’s your go-to roast level? Do you prefer the bright, milder flavor of a Guatemala Medium, or the sweet smokiness of Love Buzz? Have you ever wondered what really makes them different? Here we’ll break down the differences between coffee roasts, from light to dark! Watch the video below to hear an overview from Mike Mowry, our Coffee Quality Coordinator, then read on for more details.
First, it’s important to understand what a “coffee roast level” really means. When we roast coffee, we take raw, mostly flavorless and odorless coffee beans and heat them to bring out different characteristics. The length of time spent roasting the beans determines its roast level, which begins to determine how the coffee ultimately tastes. Different roast levels and methods bring out different characteristics in coffee beans depending on their origin, varietal and seasonality, so every roaster must use their creativity and judgment to bring out the best in every distinct batch.
Coffee roast levels can be judged at a glance by the color of the beans, from light to very dark brown. As you might expect, the darker the beans are, the longer they have been roasted. While there is a wide range of roasts that are possible, at Equal Exchange we offer coffees at the Medium, Vienna, Full City and French roast levels.
Medium: Medium roast coffee is medium brown in color with a non-oily surface. These roasts tend to highlight well the inherent characteristics of the beans, having not yet been overtaken by flavors of the roasting process itself.
Full City: Full City roast coffees begin to take on more of a caramel flavor, with an underlying complexity of taste from the roasting process. We find that the most desirable characteristics of a particular country or region are exemplified in our Full City roast, with the beans at their most complex and most flavorful.
Vienna: Roasted even darker, the Vienna roast coffees start to show light surface oils brought out by the roasting process, with the beginning of dark chocolate flavors and a smoky aroma for a smooth and rich cup.
French: French roast coffee gets into really dark chocolaty and caramelized sugar flavors, with the beans roasted for a longer period of time to bring out a deep richness and intensity of flavor. The beans are a dark brown, with visible oils on the surface.
So what’s the best coffee roast of all? The one you like the most! Coffee is all about preference, so we encourage you to try as many roasts as you can to find your perfect cup.