Updated June 2019
Finding the right fundraising product to sell can be daunting. The ideal product appeals equally to kids and parents, has a long shelf life, zero calories, only costs a few dollars for people to buy and still brings in a decent profit for fundraising groups. The answer is socks. And who would have thought socks could change the world?
Jolly Soles was the winner of the Best New Fundraiser Award in the 2017 Fundraising Awards, showing that one person can not only bring their good ideas to fruition, but that they can positively impact on the lives of people around them as well.
Although this post is sponsored by one of my advertisers, all opinions are my own, and I think they are great products I want to share with FRM readers.
In a nutshell
Fundraising Ideas: carry boxes of socks in mixed sizes and patterns suitable for the whole family
Suitable for: schools, sports groups, daycares, kindergartens, community groups
Tanya Pettingill, mother of three and wife to hubby Jason was having one of those months when everything was piling up – in the space of a few weeks fundraising requests were coming home from kindy, school and the kids’ sports clubs. She found herself trying to sell raffle books, pies, frozen dough and multiple boxes of chocolates all at the same time. “I just thought this is crazy, I’m about to spend a couple of hundred dollars on stuff we don’t need. I love a chocolate but I don’t need $100 worth in my cupboard.”
Like many Australian families doing their part to help fundraise for schools and sports clubs, Tanya found herself often buying the whole lot, regardless of whether they needed the products or not. As a volunteer on several committees over the years, she recognised how important fundraising is to organisations, but thought that it could be done with something more practical and useful to families.
This was the Jolly Soles lightbulb moment. “Living expenses are so high, and with families being asked to put their hand in their pocket for so many different causes, it makes sense to do it with a product that people actually need. Socks! They get holes in them, the washing machine eats them, you can never find their partner. I thought socks were a good fit for what I was trying to achieve.”
Jolly Soles launched in February 2017, and by August had already run over fifty fundraisers, each raising on average around $1,000 profit. In October, Jolly Soles were announced as the winner of the Best New Fundraiser Award, as part of the national 2017 Fundraising Awards.
The carry boxes come pre-packed with 14 pairs of socks in mixed sizes, ranging from a 4 year old to an adult male. The boxes are carefully designed to appeal to a wide range of people with funky patterns and bright colours as well as black crew socks with coloured tips for the everyday work socks. In the lead-up to Fathers’ Day, the boxes include special ‘Dad’ socks. They have also introduced a special ‘fruit salad’ box with each pair decorated with cute fruit designs.
While Jolly Soles is a family business, Tanya has found that suddenly she is a marketing manager, graphic designer, photographer, accountant and a saleswoman. In the office she is answering enquiries, taking orders, working on new designs, talking to suppliers and doing social media updates. “The best part is when I actually get to pack the boxes,” says Tanya. “Knowing that there’s nothing left for me to do but crank my music… not the kids’ music for once and fill those boxes of socks.”
While socks may seem rather benign, they actually have their own superpower, and Tanya has been blown away by the generosity of people she has met doing good things to help others. “Families have built foundations to help others in honour of their own child’s legacy. People trying to make a difference to poverty stricken places overseas. Volunteers that work tirelessly for their kid’s sports club or school. With all the doom and gloom around, it’s been so wonderful meeting some great people and sharing their amazing stories.”
The very first order Jolly Soles ever received was from a lady who had lost her son. It was when she was visiting her son’s grave that she noticed other children’s graves were unmarked. So the very first Jolly Soles fundraiser was to get plaques for the graves where the families couldn’t afford to buy one. “I just thought that was an incredible gesture,” says Tanya “and to be thinking of others when you’re in so much pain yourself. She’s amazing.”
In 2017, Jolly Soles socks were used to fundraise to purchase uniforms for a school in Siem Reap Cambodia. One woman fundraising alone raised enough money to provide the money for nearly 50 children’s uniforms.
As Tanya says, we’re changing the world a pair of socks at a time.
How to get involved:
Fundraising groups purchase the carry boxes for $43 and then choose a selling price of your choice. For example if you sell each pair for $4, you will make a profit of $13 per box. If you sell them for $5 a pair, the profit will be $27 per box.
Each box contains fourteen pairs of top quality comfy socks (10 adult and 4 kids pairs), but you can request a different mix of socks if you want only kids socks or only adult socks, if you prefer patterned over plain. Just contact Tanya when placing your order.
You can choose between boxes of mixed ankle/sport socks, crew socks or the incredibly popular fruit salad box.
Each case includes a handy sizing chart and an order form. Schools, sporting groups and NFP (with an ABN) can apply for 28 day payment terms. Individuals and groups who do not have an ABN must pay upfront.
If you do not require carry boxes (if you selling at a market stall) and order a minimum of 15 sets, an additional 14 pairs of socks will be included for free.
Additionally, customers can order extra pairs online using a special code, and for the first month your cause will receive $1 from every pair sold.
There is no minimum order but a $20 delivery fee will apply for orders less than fifteen carry boxes.
If every child in a school of 100 sold one box of socks at $5 a pair, the profit would be $2,700.