Thursday, March 19, 2009

We are in business and in good shape

Giftco's closing will not affect our ability to provide strong fundraising programs for our client groups. Our two fall shoppers had a few Giftco-sourced items that will be replaced by other items. The "Snowflake Surprises" and "MacKenzie Collection" brochures continue to be very strong in their sell-through "at the door." The wrapping paper is partly from American Greetings and partly from Sullivan (supplier to "Sally") so the quality is excellent.

Our frozen food programs continue to excel. We have a new selection of baked goods, and continue to offer first-rate Wisconsin Cheeses, Sausages, and Chocolates. We still have strong flower bulb, jewelry, and candle programs.

As a company we are debt free and have a strong cash position. You can be assured of delivery of your products if you deal with us in the fall of 2009.

Major Supplier Giftco goes out of business

Giftco has closed.  With Scott's stopping imports, that leaves the entire fundraising industry without a supply of "stock" shopper catalogs.  Each regional or national company will now have to develop their own catalogs and find their own sources of goods.  The immediate result will likely be that at least a third of the local fundraising companies in the US will go out of business as the entire industry continues to contract.  

Here is a statement from a regional Giftco representative to his fundraising company customers:

Sadly and unfortunately Giftco has run into an obstacle that we cannot overcome.

As you are aware the banking climate in America today is at its worst in our lifetimes. We have been working toward refinancing the company with a new bank for many months. During that period of time we were convinced that an agreeable transaction was in the works. As in all of life no deal is done until it is finalized.  Over the last two days, in the final hours of negotiations stipulations were changed or added which made it impossible for Giftco to go forward.

As you are aware we had severely tightened our belts over the last 12 months and made many internal changes. The owners invested sizable additional funds into Giftco. Our outside partners were lined up to do so also. However, with the banks' new additional requirements, we are not in a position to continue.

The result of this is that Giftco will discontinue operations. This will be done through an orderly liquidation of assets and dissolution of the company.

We will make every effort to work with our customers to provide you with goods to service your schools. We have existing inventory to build kits of "In School Shoppe" merchandise. We have existing prize inventory. We have sizable inventories on many excellent "evergreen" products. These goods will be made available for purchase and immediate shipment over the next couple of weeks. We will be in contact with you to offer these opportunities.

We are both exasperated and devastated over this turn of events. We did not foresee this outcome as being a realistic possibility until the last few days. Over the last few days we have exhausted all known possibilities for the required funding. In any other banking climate Giftco would be viewed as a good client; in the current climate that is simply not the case.

 Regrettably we can only apologize that we will not be around to work with you in the future. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Gift item availability questionable for fall 2009

The trend in fundraising is toward food, but wrapping paper is still
strong. As of today, the word "on the street" is that the major
importer of fundraising gift items has closed its doors--another
casualty of the current economic downturn and the banking crisis. The
other major importer announced several weeks ago that they would be
stopping their import business and concentrate on food items that they
product domestically.

Our fall shoppers are secure. We have 24 items to re-source from the
importer that closed its doors today, and that's already in the
works. This same importer was a major player in the holiday shop
market, but we use the "other" importer that is still going strong.
Our wrapping paper is all domestic--made by American Greetings and by
Sullivan. Our food items are all domestic.

So if you have been using someone else for your holiday shop or fall
fundraiser, call us instead. We've been in business for 22 years and
are debt free. We choose which schools and organizations we work with
based on their willingness to follow our plan for success. For us,
failure is not an option.

Our food programs continue to do well. They are all sourced on the
east coast, so that pricing buys more product quality and less in
transportation. Prices are locked in for several months, and our
retail prices are lower than those of most other companies.

The current economic situation is likely to put another several
hundred fundraising companies out of business. We are still here and
stand ready to help you with your fundraising needs for fall 2009.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Fundraising needs increase as recession deepens

One of our associates in Pennsylvania writes: 

Contrary to the current economic trends we have found that in the first 2 months of 2009 schools sold more than for the same 2 month period in 2008 ( $13,920 vs $10,339) a 35%  increase. Here are a few examples.


Jan 1 - Feb 26, 09


Jan 1 - Feb 26, 08

Eaton Middle School




Reading High School




Edison High School




Warren County Technical School




Mahanoy Area High School




This just confirms the fact that the American People have a heart no matter what the economic condition. Contributing to a worthy cause is as American as apple pie. Fundraising is recession proof. We can't ignore the facts. It is easier for people to pool their resources to get something that is needed than for one person to pay for the whole thing. A young single mom want to see her son play ice hockey, but the cost is $500. How does she get the funds? She fund raises along with the rest of the moms. She and her son, like the rest of the hockey team, reach out to family, friends and co workers and sell food and dry goods to earn money to help defray the cost of hockey. People helping people is an old concept that still works well. The present economic condition lends itself to an increase need for fund raisers. People need help and we can show them a viable way to get the help they need.
Do not get caught up in the hysteria of Wall Street. We are here to help the people on Main Street.
Another analysis to prove this point is that we have sold to over 45 ($62,704) new accounts in the past 2 months as compared to same 2 month period as in 2008. Listed are a few examples


Jan 1 - Feb 26, 09


Jan 1 - Feb 26, 08

North Middle School




Towamensing Elementary School




Andrew Lewis Middle School




Northwest Area High School




Edward Gideon Elementary




North Schuylkill High School




Carolyn Stokes Day Nursery




Warwick Senior High School




Chester County Technical College




Thomas Jefferson Elementary School




Organizations recognize the need to fund raise.  If this is the case with your organization, then go to to see what we offer, contact us, and let's get started.  

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bailouts.... hardly!

Headlines everywhere are talking about school budget cuts. Reductions
in force will happen in many localities as well as wage freezes for
teachers, administrators, and support staff. Where is the bailout
coming from and when will it get here? PARENTS will have to bail out
the schools and will have to start NOW.

Some school principals will just say "no" to everything and if that is
the case in your school, neither I nor any other fundraising company
can help you. Your kids will just be deprived of many things you want
them to experience. Other principals will roll up their sleeves and
get to work on building community support and raising money for the
school. If this is your school, I can help and will be glad to do so
by providing a quality fundraiser with outstanding motivation for
students and parents alike.

It will take two main ingredients to make it work:
1. A product that people will buy at the price at which it is offered.
2. Enthusiasm on the part of everyone at the school... so much so that
parents become enthusiastic enough to take action and sell.

The first of these is up to me. The second is up to you. Getting the
kids really excited is pretty easy. Keeping them and the parents
excited for two weeks requires effort.

Our Fall 2009 offerings are about ready. There have been some changes
in product on our web site with more to follow. For the local service
area where we actually visit schools there will be a mailing that
includes our product line and service information. If you are serious
about raising a large sum, we are here to help.

You do not have to wait until fall. You can do a Spring "fill up the
treasury" fundraiser or one for a specific purpose. Last May we had a
sale with a school of around 600 students on our frozen food line
"Food Court" and they sold over $19,000 in frozen food. The prize
program was very simple... sell 1 items and you're in the draw for a
cash prize of $50. Sell 15 items and choose any free food item on the
brochure, and if you win in the drawing, the cash prize doubles. The
parents believed in the cause and the teachers got excited. It worked.

If you read previous posts on this blog, you will see that the world
financial crisis has affected the fundraising industry just like it
has many other industries. So far we are doing just fine financially
as are our major suppliers. We anticipate good product flow and
excellent services for our clients this Spring and through the year.

One important point is that there will be a fixed supply of brochures
available. Once they are sold out, they are gone forever without a
reprint. Product is already ordered for August delivery on our
catalog shoppers. We can only have as many catalogs as we have
product to support them and the ordering deadline is now for wrapping
paper, gift items, kitchen gadgets, and other non-food items. So, we
guess on how much to order and hope, just like we have in past years.
Now, however, the option of air freighting in product from the Orient
is not available, because of the cost. We have ordered boldly, and
have means of disposing of unsold inventory, so things should move
along smoothly. On the other hand, schools and leagues that put off
deciding on a fall fundraiser may be out of luck with us and with just
about every other fundraising company in the nation. The time to
decide is during the time period from March 1 through April 30. After
that brochures will be sold out quickly.

Another important thing to consider is the participation of the
Principal and Teachers in your school or the Coaches in your league.
Strong and effective leadership, and the building of excitement is
going to be essential if you are to have a successful fundraiser.
Because of fixed costs, we are going to expect that at least 40% of
your enrollment will turn in orders on any Spring or Fall fundraiser.
There will be a "less than minimum participation surcharge" of 3% of
retail for groups that fail to meet that level. This is necessary to
the financial survival of ANY fundraising company in today's economy.
BUT getting 40-60% of your enrollment to sell isn't "rocket
science." We know how to do this and can teach you how.

On a school-wide sale your Principal MUST endorse the project and
build excitement in it. Some sort of "stunt" will probably be the
best way to do this. There are many that have been done.... top
sellers get to duct tape the principal to the wall; principal kisses
a pig or cow or whatever; principal spends the night on the roof;
principal goes through a "carless car wash"; let your creativity soar
and your profits will soar too. There are some excellent suggestions
on the PTO Today web site.

Your Teachers MUST endorse the project and build excitement in it.
One tried and true way to encourage this is to allocate a specific
percentage of sales profits to each classroom, based on that
particular class's sales performance, toward classroom supplies.
Having the teachers each write a note to parents in their own
handwriting is a strong method of getting parents to support the
project. Daily promotions that involve the teacher's participation
also help immensely. We can teach you how to do this.

Finally, it is going to be necessary for the school to join with the
fundraising company in providing a strong prize and motivational
program. Daily PA announcements about the sale are a must, as are
send-home letters 3 days after the sale starts encouraging parents to
participate and again 2 days before the end of the sale reminding them
that "there is little time left".

So watch our web site, look for our packet in the mail (or request
one) and then decide early. Then reap the rewards.