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Putting the "Fun" in Fundraiser with Beer and Popcorn

Beer and Popcorn Fundraiser


YSU SALSA’s Beer and Popcorn Fundraiser

Maddie Stevens is the president of Youngstown State University’s Student Affairs Leadership Support Association, or SALSA. The organization is made up of student affairs and college counseling students in YSU’s counseling master’s program. These students aim to support student-centered programming and outreach on YSU’s campus and need to attend professional development conferences that help them gain a deeper understanding of their discipline.

But to obtain funding, students often have to petition the university, and there is not enough money designated for everyone to attend as many conferences as they’d like. It’s important for Maddie, and for SALSA as a whole, to help provide funds for experiences where students have the opportunity to develop professional relationships, learn from others, and bond with classmates outside the classroom.

Thinking of Creative Ways to Raise Money

That’s where SALSA comes in. Under Maddie’s guidance, the organization decided to come up with ways to raise money on their own to create scholarships for members, as well as, Maddie says, to contribute to YSU’s goals to become more student-centered and provide more services to the campus community.

They tossed around traditional ways to fundraise, but Maddie and other members wanted to do something a little different – something not as philanthropic and that didn’t directly relate to their organization.

According to Maddie, “Everyone loves everyone in Youngstown!” So the group quickly settled on a plan to support local businesses through a fundraising event – that way they would not only be giving back to YSU but also to the Youngstown area. Everyone would benefit!

Going Local with Popcorn and Beer

Once Maddie started thinking of unique fundraising ideas, she remembered something she had seen about a beer and popcorn pairing event in New York City and was immediately inspired to try something similar here at home. Reaching out to local businesses was easy – Karma Korn Poppery is located in Girard, Ohio, Maddie’s hometown just minutes away from the university, and Noble Creature Cask House was a new brewery in town that she’d visited before.

Each business agreed to participate. They decided on a $20 admission fee, for which attendees would receive a flight of four beers, each paired with two different gourmet popcorn flavors. SALSA would receive $12 of each ticket sold.

Advertising a Popcorn Fundraiser

Maddie did most of her advertising on social media, and she also reached out to local news organizations for publicity, offering teasers about some of the pairings, like Wick Perk Coffee Stout with Elephant Ear Popcorn, to get people interested.

In the end, approximately 80 people attended the event, both advance ticket purchasers and walk-ins who came to the brewery for a drink and joined the fun. Attendees were happy to support local businesses and had a great time tasting the popcorn and beer pairings. SALSA raised more than $1,000 for scholarships, and Karma Korn and Noble Creature sold additional popcorn and beer aside from the tasting portions.

Advice: Focus on Fundraising Events 

All in all, the event was a huge success. When asked if she had advice for others looking to organize successful fundraisers, Maddie recommended thinking about what people want, and what you yourself would enjoy spending time doing. A bake sale is fine, she says, but people don’t necessarily want to pay money for just anything – they want an experience.

Part of SALSA’s success with this pairing was treating the fundraiser as an event. Definitely be honest and open about raising money for your organization, Maddie advises, but emphasize the fun attendees will have and what they will get out of it. Stressing the partnership between local businesses also helps – people like to support their community.

Ready to host your own fundraiser? Use our suggestions for beer and popcorn pairings to get started, or find more ideas for special events and fundraisers.