Cookbook Fundraisers

Cookbooks, besides being excellent resources for your favorite recipes, are also heirloom items that are passed down through the generations.


The best thing is, people get to contribute their favorite dishes to the book, so it’s not just a cookbook – it’s a personalized treasure that’s bound and laminated, so that it can be kept if not forever, then at least for a long time. Cookbook fundraisers can make a lot of money for this reason – everyone loves a keepsake that they can use.

How does it work?

You start your fundraiser by finding and collecting recipes to put in your cookbook. These can be from family, friends, and even local celebrities. Ask the members of your group to submit their favorite dishes, too.

You can even create a theme for your cookbook, such as holiday recipes, desserts, comfort food, Southern cooking, or anything you want. Maybe you can even base it on your organization – if you’re an environmental group, why not look at organic meals?

If you’re a church, why not the best of church bake sales or potluck dinners? People can buy a generic cookbook at the store anytime – they’re definitely going to treasure a carefully-compiled recipe book a lot more, especially if their recipe has made it in!

Next, you need to find a cookbook fundraising company. Once you’ve done your research and checked prices, shipping, and design options, you will design your cookbook with this company.

Together, you’ll design the cover, choose the binding, and organize the recipes into sections. After this is done, the company will print and ship your cookbooks to you.

You will need to do a lot of work for this fundraiser. You’ll need volunteers to collect, sort and organize the recipes. As well, you may need to enter them into a word processing program, so you’ll need someone who’s good with computers.

If you pre-sell the cookbooks, the orders will need to be processed as they come in, and the money will have to be carefully kept track of.

You can choose to do your fundraiser in one of two ways. You can take advance orders of the cookbook so that you have an exact number of what you need to order and you can have the money upfront to pay the company.

Or, you can estimate how many cookbooks you’ll need based on a fundraising goal that you and your group have set, order the books and then sell them when they arrive. Most companies will require you to pay in advance for the books, but you may be able to qualify for credit with some companies.

If you don’t want to wait to collect recipes, or if you can’t collect enough recipes, some companies offer a personalized pre-made cookbook. This cookbook already contains recipes, but your group can customize the cover.

This works as a brochure fundraiser, which means that there is no upfront cost and you only order as many cookbooks as there is demand. This is ultimately less work, since your group doesn’t have to find recipes, organize them, and decide which ones are going into the book. However, there may be less of an appeal to potential customers and sales will correspondingly go down.

It does work as an option for smaller groups or ones that need money right away.

How much can I make?

Depending on which sales method you choose, you can make up to 90% profit. Of course, the more cookbooks your order, the higher your profit is. As well, if you collect personalized recipes, people will be more likely to buy a book just to see their names and suggestions in print.

The cost of printing normally goes down with a higher volume of books, but check out if you need to meet a minimum order or if shipping is included. Either way, you’re going to need a lot of money upfront to do this fundraiser. The rewards are great, however.

Pros and cons of cookbook fundraisers

There are advantages and disadvantages to this fundraiser, and to each of the methods that you can use to sell the cookbooks. Cookbook fundraisers work great as holiday events, and can be staged at different times through the year at different holiday events, because you can theme the recipes.

However, you’ll probably only get away with using this fundraiser once or twice in a few years if you collect the recipes yourself, since people won’t want to scrounge around to find recipes to give you more than once. As well, you will likely find that members of your group and their family members and friends will be happy to buy your cookbooks, and hopefully their friends and family members will want to support your group, too.

But it’s likely that other people may not find the cookbooks quite as appealing, so you may have trouble finding support with members of your community that aren’t related in some way to your organization.

If you choose the pre-order method, you’ll only have to pay for the cookbooks ordered, and you’ll have the money upfront. However, you may be required to meet a minimum order, and printing costs can be high if you don’t have a lot of books to print.

You’ll have to make sure that your sales team is really motivated to sell enough cookbooks to cover your overhead costs. You can do this by setting a fundraising goal or by providing an incentive. You will also have to wait for the cookbooks to be delivered.

If you choose to estimate how many you’ll need and then sell them, you’ll have the cookbooks upfront, which is nice for your customers, but you may have to carry an inventory if you don’t sell all your cookbooks. You will also have to pay out a lot of money upfront for printing and shipping.

If you use the pre-made personalized cookbook selling method, you’ll have to do less work, but you may find that there’s also less appeal.

Cookbooks are great items to sell, especially if people know they’re going to see their favorite recipes in the book. With a good profit margin, you can definitely bring home the bread on this one.