I was introduced to a cancer charity called Circle of Hope Bracelets (COHB) about 9 years ago when a patient at the dental office where I work brought them in to show me and my co-workers. I purchased 3 bracelets that day; 1 for every year since my breast cancer diagnosis.
I loved the bracelets and the fact that the proceeds benefit cancer charities so I found out how to become a volunteer. COHB volunteers are able to direct a portion of the sales they generate to a cancer charity of their choice. I don’t receive any income from the sales. The American Cancer Society/Relay for Life and a local kids with cancer foundation are the charities my percentage goes to.
I started selling the bracelets at community events and other venues by asking the organizers to waive the vendor fee since it’s a nonprofit. After a year of struggling to make this work, I hit upon the idea of making a few handcrafted items to sell along with the bracelets and designated the proceeds towards vendor fees, with any remaining money to be donated to my Relay for Life fundraising efforts. I refer to my craft sales as Crafting for a Cure.
Jammin’ for a Cure came about when my co-worker and Relay for Life team member Rose decided to make some jam to sell at a little café/store that was in her neighborhood for her fundraising. The owners were her friends and they set up a shelf display. The jam is not priced; instead there is a sign listing the ingredients as “Fruit, Sugar, Pectin, Faith, Hope, and Love,” and a request for a donation to the American Cancer Society. She had a busy summer trying to keep the shelves stocked! (Rose does not use Pomona’s Pectin but does make low- and no-sugar jams.)
Seeing her success, I decided to bring some jars of my own stash of jam with me to my craft show events to give it a try. That was about three years ago and I haven’t stopped jammin’ since! We brought our jams to our Relay for Life event to sell at our team’s tent site and did great there too! Rose moved away last year but still managed to get several cases of jam made and delivered to the little store when her previous customers began requesting it.
Evie’s Advice for Starting Your Own Project
The first important step is to check your state’s Dept. of Agriculture rules for selling homemade products at Farmer’s Markets and occasional events. You need details about labeling the jars, including what information to put on the label. I post a sign that states my jams are made at home and not subject to state inspection. I also list my prices as donations and show where the money is going.
I am not an expert in sales or product packaging. My sales events are usually small venues and we may bring only 2 to 3 cases of a mix of different jams. I do not set out jars of samples like some of the large market jammers do. Guess I’m just too stingy with my jam!
At my last craft show I promoted the Relay for Life by offering to decorate a luminary bag for a loved one or friend with cancer to place on the walking path at our RFL event for every $10 in total purchases. It gave me the opportunity to share what Relay for Life is about with those who were not aware and helped to boost my total sales. Of course, now I need to get busy decorating more bags!
I use colorful paper muffin liners to decorate the jar tops and to use as labels for the jam flavors. My customers seem to appreciate that the jars are ready to use for gift giving and it is a quick and easy way to make the jars stand out and draw attention among the other items I sell.
We can usually entice the men at the events to check out the jam while the ladies are looking at the bracelets and other pretty things. My daughter or husband is usually selling with me; they are much better sales people. They are good at pointing out their favorite jam flavors to customers and then usually call me over to the jam table to answer a specific question about ingredients.
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