Community Groups: Start your democracy sausage

Piggybacking on an established event such as election day is an easy way for community groups and schools to raise funds.

Democracy Sausage Adobe Stock 264309886

Compulsory voting, which draws large crowds of hungry constituents craving a reward for performing their civic duty, means hosting an election day sausage sizzle is a no-brainer for community groups and schools.

You don’t have to sell sausages to raise funds for your group. There are multiple ways you can cash in on election day. We’ve come up with a list of 15 tips to ensure your fundraiser goes off without a hitch.

1. Find a venue.

A list of polling places will be available on the Australian Electoral Commission’s website a few weeks before election day. You’ll need to check with the organisation or school hosting the election day booth to get permission to run a food stall. Each council jurisdiction has different rules and regulations about whether you need a license to hold a sausage sizzle or cake stall, so you’ll need to check with them too.

2. Expand your market (diversify).

You can sell add-ons like drinks and sweets, or jams, relishes and sauces, which can be made in advance and stored before the day. You could even sell coffee if you have a machine.

Tip: the bigger the range, the more you’ll sell (Think: “Do you want fries with that?”). If this isn’t your first food fundraiser, think of which food or product has been most successful in the past, and make sure there’s plenty of that type on offer.

3. Get the goods.

Figure out what you’re going to sell and how much of it you’d like to sell. Our events budget tool will help you start building your budget. You’ll need to adapt it to suit your needs. You can also check out the Special Events Budgeting help sheet for assistance. Browse the #democracysausage hashtag on Twitter for recipe ideas and ingenious cake creations.

4. Get sponsored.

If you can get your base product (the sausages or bread, say) for free or at a reduced price, you’ll cut down on costs and increase your profit margin. Perhaps one of your sponsors is the local butcher or supermarket. Or maybe they (or one of your members) can provide some of the equipment you’ll need to set up the stall, such as a BBQ, furniture, kitchen utensils etc. Ask them what they’d be willing to donate or offer at a reduced price for your stall.

5. Recruit volunteers.

If you can’t get the product for free, the next best bet is to make it yourself (or get your volunteers to make it). Ask your volunteers and members to donate baked goods such as cakes, slices and cookies to sell on the day.

You’ll also need to recruit people to work at the stall on the day. Just remember to get in early when recruiting volunteers, especially if you’re asking them to make something.

6. Be safe.

The Food Standards Australia and New Zealand website has helpful information on safe practice for sausage sizzles and barbeques, as well as general food handling information for charities and community groups. You’ll need to check the food handling regulations regarding labelling and handling of food for your area. The Funding Centre’s Fundraising legislation and regulations help sheet has a list with links for every state and territory’s food regulator.

Note: you’ll need to list all the ingredients used in the cooking, so produce labels that the various cooks can fill in beforehand (add a donation link to your label to increase your fundraising potential!).

7. Add value.

Use the opportunity to sell what else you’ve got. Place a collection tin next to the cash box or sauce station to encourage customers to deposit spare change. There’s a list of places to purchase collection tins on the Funding Centre here.

You could also sell raffle tickets or merchandise, encourage people to sign up for memberships, build a volunteering list, etc.

8. Be inclusive.

It’s not a requirement to offer vegetarian and vegan options, but it might make someone’s day if you do, and it could even mean extra money for your group, depending on the region in which your stall is located. Same goes for gluten and peanut-free options if you’re selling baked goods.

Think about novelty value, also. In recent elections particular voting venues have gone viral on social media as people spread the word about the best places to get a bite to eat while they vote.

9. Tell people about it.

Make sure to use the #democracysausage hashtag on Twitter to help voters know where you’re going to be if you’re hosting a sausage sizzle or cake stall.

You can drop flyers in the mailboxes of people in the local area prior to the day to ensure they’ll bring cash with them, or post on your social media platforms.

10. Get those people to tell people about it.

Encourage customers to tweet about your stall. Try to get your organisation, cause or stall trending on Twitter by telling customers what you want them to tag you with on Twitter. This is easily done by writing it on the price list, menu or ingredients tag.

11. Get the local celeb to host the barby.

If you’re lucky enough to know one, ask a local celeb to staff the stall (and/or tweet about it before and during the event) to raise the profile of your fundraiser. Chances are they’d be happy to pitch in for an hour or so to boost their public profile.

12. Raise funds.

It should go without saying, but you’d be surprised at the number of fundraisers that fail to make a profit after accounting for expenses. It’s up to you to decide how much to ask for the products you are selling but make sure you more than cover your costs.

Think about how much of a markup you can add on certain products. For example, the addition of avocado to a sausage sizzle gives it instant gourmet status, and a gourmet price tag to match.

13. Have a fundraising policy.

Make sure you have a fundraising policy to help your organisation create rules to regulate how you raise money and manage it once you have it – don’t let it disappear on the way to the bank!

There’s also a free policy template available for download.

14. Advocate for a cause.

Maybe your focus is on the environment, education, homelessness, welfare, employment, women’s right, Indigenous affairs, health, the arts, or something as simple as re-turfing the local sports field. You can’t advocate for a particular party or candidate, but if there’s a cause your organisation cares about, election day is as good a day as any to communicate your position on a particular cause.

Check out this article on Our Community about why advocacy is a must for not-for-profits.

15. Ask them to give more using GiveNow's CrowdRaiser.

Do you have a specific program/item to fund or a specific amount of money that you want to raise before the end of the financial year? Capitalise on the crowds and potential media and set up a crowdfunding campaign for your members to raise funds on your behalf.

Your crowdfunders can hand out flyers on election day or make signs telling people where to go to donate. If you haven’t already, check out CrowdRaiser, the online crowdfunding tool of giving platform GiveNow.

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