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Taking a Bite Out of Poverty with Cookies for Change

By Deanna Giolas

The kitchen at Opportunity International’s U.S. headquarters was filled with the intoxicating aroma of freshly baked cookies; this was no ordinary day in the office. As the Cookie Monster sang recently, “You got cookie, so share it maybe,” and sharing was the theme of this cookie contest fundraiser organized by the summer interns. “Cookies for Change” tapped into employees’ love of sweets, their generosity and their competitive spirit to aid in Opportunity’s fight to empower individuals in extreme poverty with life-changing loans. When the idea was first proposed, I never imagined a few cookies could spark so much enthusiasm for giving.

Cookies for Change fundraiser.

To spread the word, colorful e-mails were sent out to all employees to enlist contestants to bring in two dozen of their favorite home-baked or store-bought cookies for the competition, and to donate to the online fundraiser on Opportunity’s website.

On the day of the event, the excitement in the office was palpable. The kitchen was filled with people eager to taste the goodies and use their funds to support the cause. Each of the 13 batches was placed in front of an envelope bearing a contestant number and a description of the cookie. Everyone in the office was encouraged to sample each cookie and place donations in the form of cash, check or IOU into the envelope of their favorites. At the end of the day, the cookie that raised the most money was crowned the winner! Former intern and new Young Ambassadors manager Allison Kooser took a bite out of the competition and received first place with her creative and scrumptious pretzel, chocolate and sea salt cookies.

Just a few of the cookie contestants.

Extra cookies were also available for purchase throughout the day for anyone wishing to take a few for the road. Meghan Cutherell’s delicious pumpkin cream cheese and chocolate caramel whoopee pies flew off the trays and into the mouths of happy customers.

Meghan and her very popular whoopie pies.All in all, this fundraiser was a great success. We raised a total of $442, including off- and online donations, and our fundraiser is still going online.

The fundraiser’s low operating costs and creativity make it fun and easy to replicate in your own office or organization! If there’s one thing “Cookies for Change” has taught me, it is to never underestimate the power of the sweet tooth.

To see all our online fundraisers, or to start your own, visit opportunity.org/fundraiser.

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