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Chrome Dome 05-29-2013 10:10 PM

Volume and Price Question
Hi all. The non-profit I founded last year is doing a fundraising cook on Saturday, our first. We will have Pulled Pork, Pork Loin Sandwiches, Brats and hotdogs, along with slaw chips and sides. All my product will come from Costco. All food will be exchanged for donations, and the proceeds transferred to Operation BBQ Relief to support their Moore, OK response.

I have pulled the online menus from local BBQ places in the DC area. A pulled pork sandwich and sometimes a side prices from $8.99 to $12.00. We are planning a suggested minimum donation of $7 a plate (either pulled pork sandwich, pork loin sandwich, or Brat with slaw and chips). For those who cater, and understanding markets vary, does that sound reasonable? Both organizations are all volunteer, so no personnel costs. Thanks!

marubozo 05-29-2013 10:46 PM

While not having to pay people is a plus, you still have to price based on your actual costs and not just by what others are charging. You have to know your numbers before you can decide whether or not what you're charging will actually bring in any money.

Use the 3 times food cost rule for starters. Add up all of the meat, buns, sides, etc. you have to buy and then multiply that by three. Then divide that by the number of expected plates you expect to sell. What's that number? Is it higher or lower than 7 bucks? That calculation alone will tell you how close your numbers are.

If you come up with anything less than $7 per plate, then there's enough meat on the bones so to speak that you'll make some money for the charity. But if you come in higher than that, then you're pushing it because that 3x markup also accounts for all the fuel, travel, possibly things like place settings, and all other incidental costs.

The bottom line is you have to know what you are going to spend before you can ever put a price on a plate. I mean think about it, what if you go out and feed 200 people, they all make the recommended donation, but in the end you and all of your volunteers end up devoting 10 hours of their weekend just so you raise a net of 200 bucks? Sure, it made money, but that might be just a dollar a head. That's where you can figure out that charging/suggesting a buck or two more per head can make a world of difference.

So, start by tallying up what it's really going to cost to put on the event and then think about prices instead of just estimating that because you don't have labor and because it's lower than others are charging that it will all work out in the end.

Chrome Dome 05-29-2013 10:57 PM

Thanks, and I have crunched the numbers, to include clam shells, sauce, forks, etc. Looks like I can put a "plate" together for about $1.65 on the high side (pork loin, less for everything else). So, at the 3x rule, that puts us at $4.95. Plus, we will have soda and water, at a high profit margin. Understanding that we need to factor in roughly $200 overall for underlying costs (foil, spices, gas), I guess we are still in a decent profit margin? My goal is 1000 plates. Promoted through a number of listservs, OBR, and possibly the Washington Post. This will be a learning experience, but want to do good for OBR.

Pyle's BBQ 05-30-2013 02:26 AM

Good luck on your venture. My experience with fundraisers is that a free will donation garners more money than a set price. Now this may be different in your location.

chad 05-30-2013 06:58 AM

I've often done fund raisers and "gatherings" at church and they charge whatever they wish (our pastor basically gives it all away) and I donate the meat and time. But, that's just me!
However, I always run the numbers to make sure they ask for enough to cover the actual cost (even if donated) so that everyone understands "free" isn't "free"!! 3x cost is a good ball park guest0imate.

BBQ Nuts 05-30-2013 11:53 PM

Where is the event? Is there a website?

toadhunter911 05-31-2013 08:27 AM


Originally Posted by Pyle's BBQ (Post 2498171)
Good luck on your venture. My experience with fundraisers is that a free will donation garners more money than a set price. Now this may be different in your location.

That has been my experience as well. My church does a monthly dinner and a movie night with a free will offering and we always make back our costs plus, to the point the monies left over is paying for up front cost for the next month, and building a nice chunk we will donate to one our sister churches in the inner city for their food pantry.

Chrome Dome 06-01-2013 04:47 AM


Originally Posted by BBQ Nuts (Post 2499360)
Where is the event? Is there a website?

Sorry for the delay, I didn't see your post.

We are having a fundraiser Today, Saturday, June 1, at Belle View Elementary School, 6701 Ft. Hunt Road, Alexandria, VA. Serving from 11:00 - 5:00. We put on 225 lbs of pork shoulder last night, with 50 lbs of pork loin to go on in a couple hours. Brats and hotdogs, slaw, chips and drinks will be available.

Plates will be for donation, with the proceeds transferred to Operation BBQ Relief to help their efforts in OK.

Thanks to everyone in the thread for their input. My (our) first big cook!

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