How our charity food offs evolved from raising $950 to over $100,000


TL;DR recap (thanks to 647 Media):


Software evolves.

Instead of developing the perfect piece of software, you release it, and then start iterating and improving based on feedback and issues you run into.

It’s how my charity food offs have evolved:

  1. The first chocolate chip cookie off was 30 months ago amongst friends.
  2. The first charity chocolate chip cookie off was 18 months ago. We sold 100 tickets and raised $950 (all numbers USD).
  3. 12 months ago I did a sausage showdown. We raised $8500.
  4. 8 months ago I did an NYC cookie off. We raised over $30,000
  5. Last weekend I hosted a chocolate chip cookie off in Toronto. We raised over $100,000!

By iterating my charity food offs (while selling the same number of tickets), I have increased the amount we raised for charity from $8.50 per person to over $610 per person!

The truth of it all

Here’s a simple truth: we all want to be part of something bigger than us.

Religion. Sports. Forums. Neighborhoods. Communities. Organizations. Membership sites. And so forth.

They all let us join a collective of like-minded individuals and ideally aim for something bigger than just one of us.

For religion, it’s God.

For sports, it’s the glory of being the best.

For forums, it’s knowing more about the topic you’re interested in.

For organizations, it’s improving whatever you’re focused on (business, public speaking, sales, etc).

The charity food offs have iterated to embody this truth. We’ve ended up with a win-win-win for all three stakeholders:

  1. Attendees
  2. Competitors
  3. Charities

The charity food offs have been a resounding success by focusing on the human side and giving all involved parties a “win.”

You can read my previous posts on how I recruited bakers, on how the sausage showdown worked, and what made NYC cookie off work. What I want to cover are the little things I’ve evolved to make it unique:

1. The messaging was authentic

(ugh yes, the word ‘authentic’ is overused)

I’ve written about the #cookielife, but the crux of it is that cookies are not a gimmick to me. They’re just something I love. And it’s not just cookies – I love food. If you want to talk cooking or baking, we can get deep into it.

So when I told people I’m doing a cookie off, they knew it wasn’t some marketing angle. People knew I wasn’t doing it for the sake of trying to be unique – it was something that mattered to me, so I did it.

Furthermore, we heavily emphasized that while we were celebrating excess, we were not ACTING in excess.

The goal from the start was to donate all the extra cookies. No wasting.

We quartered all the cookies – not just so that they were easier to eat (how the hell do you consume 38 full sized cookies?!?), but this also minimized waste.

Furthermore, it was a matter of respect. If you’re receiving a donation, you want whole cookies, not someone’s cut up leftovers.

We had takeout boxes, but we had the small version and mentioned how we wanted to focus on you taking home cookies you truly liked, not just filling it up with all the cookies you could get your hands on.

What was amazing was the bakers all stepped up big time. I would say over half of them baked a surplus of cookies to ensure there were cookies to donate.

In the end, we ended up donating over 100 lb of chocolate chip cookies and over 15 L of milk!

By keeping our focus on what mattered and not doing things for the sake of gimmicks, we ensured that the value of what we were doing came through.

2. We supported multiple charities and considered responsibility

This one was super important to me.

Just like you, I have multiple interests. And when it comes to changing the world for the better, I don’t think it’s about one thing.

I know our relationship with food matters.

I know empowering women matters.

I know entrepreneurship matters.

I know that diversity can be an incredible strength (it’s why Toronto is the best city in the world).

Stemming from the first point (being authentic), it would be inauthentic for me to support one charity.

And so I did something I had never seen before – I decided to split the money up.

I set a maximum amount of $19,000 (effectively $25,000 CAD) per charity.

I then spent a lot of effort and energy finding charities I knew were making a positive impact. People are trusting me not to waste the money, and it’s an important responsibility.

We ended up with three:

  1. Community Food Centres of Canada. I had already supported them, and appreciate what they are doing.
  2. Sistering. I was invited to tour their location, and… it’s heartbreaking. It was such a clear reminder to me of how much having an environment that can help you matters.
  3. Business in the Streets. As an entrepreneur, I’m well aware of how much opportunity and access to knowledge can matter. Under-resourced youths who are trying to build businesses? An absolute no-brainer.

I need to find a fourth because of my auction (more below), and will be finding a charity that works on integrating immigrants/refugees (it’s not about coming to Canada, it’s about being part of the fabric of Canada).

I supported multiple charities because different issues matter to me and different problems matter to others attending.

3. We leveraged my relationships to raise more

There’s an upper limit to what you can do en masse.

Which is to say, I think 500 USD is the upper limit that I can charge a ticket. To charge more, I need to offer more, and while we’ve done bits and pieces of that (see #5), I don’t want to start hosting a larger event.

I also know some awesome people. And with my fondness of leverage, I did what you do with a friend: asked for a favor.

So – I got people who know their shit (let’s be honest, pretty rare online) agree to donate an hour or two of their time. These are people who are not available for consulting (like me!)

I then went out and auctioned it off. And the auction raised over $20,000!

I leveraged my friendships to auction off time with bad-ass people who are not ordinarily available one-on-one.

4. We didn’t rush it and built up our reputation

People are always in such a rush. I want to be an expert at this. I want to have seven figures within the year. Blah blah blah.

Most people don’t know this, but I’ve been doing random food offs with my friends for years. We have a very private Super Bowl BBQ Off in which the winner gets a WWE-style championship belt:

We’ve done a pie palooza. A mac-n-cheese off (*cough* I won). Guac-off. Chili-off.

The chocolate chip cookie off we did 18 months ago – I partially set the price so low because I had no clue how it would turn out.

And so as we’ve figured out what works (and removed what doesn’t), we’ve also been able to raise the price.

And as we’ve figured out what makes people have a good time, the demand has gone up. Our reputation now precedes us, and we can charge more.

I already have 20+ people who did not attend this year’s event who are ready to buy tickets for next year (FOMO).

I sent out a feedback survey to everyone who attended, and 100% of people have said “I want to come back next year.”

No one flew in for the first event. For this one, almost 70 people flew in.

A few people flew in from Europe (including Brian Dean, who, even though he donated time for the auction, still bought a ticket!). My buddy Andy Morgan flew in from Japan. Sebastian Marshall (who I had never met in person) flew in from Malaysia!

This shit doesn’t happen overnight. My reputation is why people trusted plunking down $500. Hell, not a single person has asked me how the money goes to the charities, how they use it, etc. They trust me, and that’s powerful (provided you’re not an idiot and mess it up).

It’s also not random. We have an extensive “charity food off” playbook that details all the steps. After every event, we take stock of what went wrong (and what went well) so we can improve.

It’s a cliche, but this quote by Bill Gates nails it:

“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”

Take your time – this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Building up your reputation makes your future much easier.

5. We made people feel special (because they are) by doing things that don’t scale

Doing things that don’t scale is what set us apart.

Exclusive and Invite-Only

First of all, we made this exclusive; this was a private event – you had to know me to get invited.

And not just have to know me – you had to be my type of people (good at what you do, but more interested in having fun than only talking about biz).

I take this very seriously. Two people who attended my NYC Cookie Off who wanted to attend again and I said no. They acted in a way that reflected poorly on me and that was not OK.

There were only four people I did not know well personally at the event; I let them in because they were strongly vouched by someone I trusted.

The waitlist to buy tickets exceeded 20 people. I did not budge – we could have made a bit more $ at this event, but it would have lost the charm that keeps people coming back.

If you’ve read my other posts – 90% of my ticket sales were done via FB. There was no mass email sent out. There was no big push. It was just “come and enjoy.”

Here’s a real convo I had:

By making this an exclusive invite-only event, and by inviting people I knew, the event sold out in 19 days.

I facilitated connections

I like bringing humans together (it’s why I organize so many entrepreneur dinners).

I also know that people are shy and not as outwardly inquisitive as I am.

So – I made everyone fill out an intake form (inspired by Jayson).

I then had this information filled into a giant spreadsheet, and I spent an inordinate amount of time cataloging the responses, stalking people on social media, building word clouds, and what not to understand what they cared about (both professional and personal) and what they were thinking about (to solve, for personal interest, etc).

And via that, I generated a list of names that they should meet (and I tried to keep it a mix of Torontonians and non-Torontonians).

This was the best thing I did.

People loved the list of names they got.

It was an easy icebreaker – “Sol said I have to say hi to you.”

It became a game “Oh, your list says XXX. Have you met? If not, I know her, let me take you to her.”

People ended up wearing the lists on their chest to make it easier to build these connections.

It was honestly 10x the work to build this list than it was to recruit the competitors, but it’s why I could charge $500 per person – you were guaranteed to meet awesome people.

Based on people’s inputs, I generated a list of names of people everyone had to meet. It was an incredibly powerful connecting tool.

I was offered help – and I asked for it

I’m big on going for the ask. At worst, you end up where you were before. At best – you get what you want!

During the event, I had a few people tell me that if I was close to a big goal, to let them know, and they’d chip in a bit extra to make it happen.

When we were just over $6000 short of the $100,000 goal, I asked for the help. And bam – they were glad to come through.

I was even my regular anal self and said it would be anonymous. No one cared.

If someone offers to help, don’t be shy to ask.

I thanked the competitors and supporters

Doing things that don’t scale matter.

I recorded a personalized video for every person who supported with food to thank them.

They put in their time and money to support this. To spend a few minutes just saying thanks and letting them know how it turned out – an absolute no-brainer.

Show appreciation to the people who supported you.

Tax receipts vs Sol’s Feast of his Favorite Foods

I wanted to add a little extra benefit for everyone who bought a ticket.

For Canadians, it was an easy one – tax receipts. And because the first chocolate chip cookie off was so cheap, a significant portion was considered a donation.

But what about everyone flying in?

I love Toronto. A big reason why I moved the food off to July was to show off how badass Toronto is.

I also love food. I have bonded with many people over a mutual love of food. I have a list of “must try” foods in Toronto for everyone who visits.

Soooo…. why not show off the excellent food in Toronto?

So I convinced the purveyors of some of my favorite foods to donate said food so I could have a “Sol’s feast of his favorite foods.”

We ended up with:

  • Pizzeria Libretto‘s pizza + calamari
  • Maple Leaf Tavern‘s Reuben sandwich sausage (which won my Sausage Showdown)
  • Hooked‘s cured salmon (you’ll never go back to smoked salmon)
  • Monforte‘s black sheep cheese (just wow)
  • Blackbird Bakery‘s sourdough bread (so soft and perfectly sour)
  • SOMA‘s chocolate-covered toffee with almond (this is referred to as “crack” in my house)
  • Death in Venice‘s Nutella & cookies gelato (proper cookie bits, not dough)
  • Mabel Bakery‘s peach pie (specially made for us, and Mabel’s competed in our cookie off)
  • CXBO‘s bonbons (the zaniest flavors)

And so on Saturday night, for everyone who flew in, I had a special feast.

The bonus side of this was it was an easy ice breaker for everyone – “where are you flying in from?”

It also gave me some extra time with the non-Torontonians, many of whom I was meeting for the first time in-person.

I showed off a side of Toronto a lot of the non-locals would not have had the time to experience, which further elevated the value everyone derived.

We had fun

Chocolate chip cookie-off

🍪🍪🍪 36 Toronto bakers competed at this year’s cookie-off 🍪🍪🍪

Posted by Daily Hive Toronto on Monday, July 9, 2018

As Chris Brogan would say – “I can tell Sol’s kind of people.”

The people who attended were conscientious. They cared about giving back. They wanted a positive impact. They weren’t into shady internet marketing techniques. They were good at what they did professionally but were more interested in the personal side.

Nothing brings humans together like food. And to bring awesome humans together, put together some awesome food!

xosotin chelseathông tin chuyển nhượngcâu lạc bộ bóng đá arsenalbóng đá atalantabundesligacầu thủ haalandUEFAevertonxosofutebol ao vivofutemaxmulticanaisonbethttps://bsport.fithttps://onbet88.ooohttps://i9bet.bizhttps://hi88.ooohttps://okvip.athttps://f8bet.athttps://fb88.cashhttps://vn88.cashhttps://shbet.atbóng đá world cupbóng đá inter milantin juventusbenzemala ligaclb leicester cityMUman citymessi lionelsalahnapolineymarpsgronaldoserie atottenhamvalenciaAS ROMALeverkusenac milanmbappenapolinewcastleaston villaliverpoolfa cupreal madridpremier leagueAjaxbao bong da247EPLbarcelonabournemouthaff cupasean footballbên lề sân cỏbáo bóng đá mớibóng đá cúp thế giớitin bóng đá ViệtUEFAbáo bóng đá việt namHuyền thoại bóng đágiải ngoại hạng anhSeagametap chi bong da the gioitin bong da lutrận đấu hôm nayviệt nam bóng đátin nong bong daBóng đá nữthể thao 7m24h bóng đábóng đá hôm naythe thao ngoai hang anhtin nhanh bóng đáphòng thay đồ bóng đábóng đá phủikèo nhà cái onbetbóng đá lu 2thông tin phòng thay đồthe thao vuaapp đánh lô đềdudoanxosoxổ số giải đặc biệthôm nay xổ sốkèo đẹp hôm nayketquaxosokq xskqxsmnsoi cầu ba miềnsoi cau thong kesxkt hôm naythế giới xổ sốxổ số 24hxo.soxoso3mienxo so ba mienxoso dac bietxosodientoanxổ số dự đoánvé số chiều xổxoso ket quaxosokienthietxoso kq hôm nayxoso ktxổ số megaxổ số mới nhất hôm nayxoso truc tiepxoso ViệtSX3MIENxs dự đoánxs mien bac hom nayxs miên namxsmientrungxsmn thu 7con số may mắn hôm nayKQXS 3 miền Bắc Trung Nam Nhanhdự đoán xổ số 3 miềndò vé sốdu doan xo so hom nayket qua xo xoket qua xo so.vntrúng thưởng xo sokq xoso trực tiếpket qua xskqxs 247số miền nams0x0 mienbacxosobamien hôm naysố đẹp hôm naysố đẹp trực tuyếnnuôi số đẹpxo so hom quaxoso ketquaxstruc tiep hom nayxổ số kiến thiết trực tiếpxổ số kq hôm nayso xo kq trực tuyenkết quả xổ số miền bắc trực tiếpxo so miền namxổ số miền nam trực tiếptrực tiếp xổ số hôm nayket wa xsKQ XOSOxoso onlinexo so truc tiep hom nayxsttso mien bac trong ngàyKQXS3Msố so mien bacdu doan xo so onlinedu doan cau loxổ số kenokqxs vnKQXOSOKQXS hôm naytrực tiếp kết quả xổ số ba miềncap lo dep nhat hom naysoi cầu chuẩn hôm nayso ket qua xo soXem kết quả xổ số nhanh nhấtSX3MIENXSMB chủ nhậtKQXSMNkết quả mở giải trực tuyếnGiờ vàng chốt số OnlineĐánh Đề Con Gìdò số miền namdò vé số hôm nayso mo so debach thủ lô đẹp nhất hôm naycầu đề hôm naykết quả xổ số kiến thiết toàn quốccau dep 88xsmb rong bach kimket qua xs 2023dự đoán xổ số hàng ngàyBạch thủ đề miền BắcSoi Cầu MB thần tàisoi cau vip 247soi cầu tốtsoi cầu miễn phísoi cau mb vipxsmb hom nayxs vietlottxsmn hôm naycầu lô đẹpthống kê lô kép xổ số miền Bắcquay thử xsmnxổ số thần tàiQuay thử XSMTxổ số chiều nayxo so mien nam hom nayweb đánh lô đề trực tuyến uy tínKQXS hôm nayxsmb ngày hôm nayXSMT chủ nhậtxổ số Power 6/55KQXS A trúng roycao thủ chốt sốbảng xổ số đặc biệtsoi cầu 247 vipsoi cầu wap 666Soi cầu miễn phí 888 VIPSoi Cau Chuan MBđộc thủ desố miền bắcthần tài cho sốKết quả xổ số thần tàiXem trực tiếp xổ sốXIN SỐ THẦN TÀI THỔ ĐỊACầu lô số đẹplô đẹp vip 24hsoi cầu miễn phí 888xổ số kiến thiết chiều nayXSMN thứ 7 hàng tuầnKết quả Xổ số Hồ Chí Minhnhà cái xổ số Việt NamXổ Số Đại PhátXổ số mới nhất Hôm Nayso xo mb hom nayxxmb88quay thu mbXo so Minh ChinhXS Minh Ngọc trực tiếp hôm nayXSMN 88XSTDxs than taixổ số UY TIN NHẤTxs vietlott 88SOI CẦU SIÊU CHUẨNSoiCauVietlô đẹp hôm nay vipket qua so xo hom naykqxsmb 30 ngàydự đoán xổ số 3 miềnSoi cầu 3 càng chuẩn xácbạch thủ lônuoi lo chuanbắt lô chuẩn theo ngàykq xo-solô 3 càngnuôi lô đề siêu vipcầu Lô Xiên XSMBđề về bao nhiêuSoi cầu x3xổ số kiến thiết ngày hôm nayquay thử xsmttruc tiep kết quả sxmntrực tiếp miền bắckết quả xổ số chấm vnbảng xs đặc biệt năm 2023soi cau xsmbxổ số hà nội hôm naysxmtxsmt hôm nayxs truc tiep mbketqua xo so onlinekqxs onlinexo số hôm nayXS3MTin xs hôm nayxsmn thu2XSMN hom nayxổ số miền bắc trực tiếp hôm naySO XOxsmbsxmn hôm nay188betlink188 xo sosoi cầu vip 88lô tô việtsoi lô việtXS247xs ba miềnchốt lô đẹp nhất hôm naychốt số xsmbCHƠI LÔ TÔsoi cau mn hom naychốt lô chuẩndu doan sxmtdự đoán xổ số onlinerồng bạch kim chốt 3 càng miễn phí hôm naythống kê lô gan miền bắcdàn đề lôCầu Kèo Đặc Biệtchốt cầu may mắnkết quả xổ số miền bắc hômSoi cầu vàng 777thẻ bài onlinedu doan mn 888soi cầu miền nam vipsoi cầu mt vipdàn de hôm nay7 cao thủ chốt sốsoi cau mien phi 7777 cao thủ chốt số nức tiếng3 càng miền bắcrồng bạch kim 777dàn de bất bạion newsddxsmn188betw88w88789bettf88sin88suvipsunwintf88five8812betsv88vn88Top 10 nhà cái uy tínsky88iwinlucky88nhacaisin88oxbetm88vn88w88789betiwinf8betrio66rio66lucky88oxbetvn88188bet789betMay-88five88one88sin88bk88xbetoxbetMU88188BETSV88RIO66ONBET88188betM88M88SV88Jun-68Jun-88one88iwinv9betw388OXBETw388w388onbetonbetonbetonbet88onbet88onbet88onbet88onbetonbetonbetonbetqh88mu88Nhà cái uy tínpog79vp777vp777vipbetvipbetuk88uk88typhu88typhu88tk88tk88sm66sm66me88me888live8live8livesm66me88win798livesm66me88win79pog79pog79vp777vp777uk88uk88tk88tk88luck8luck8kingbet86kingbet86k188k188hr99hr99123b8xbetvnvipbetsv66zbettaisunwin-vntyphu88vn138vwinvwinvi68ee881xbetrio66zbetvn138i9betvipfi88clubcf68onbet88ee88typhu88onbetonbetkhuyenmai12bet-moblie12betmoblietaimienphi247vi68clupcf68clupvipbeti9betqh88onb123onbefsoi cầunổ hũbắn cáđá gàđá gàgame bàicasinosoi cầuxóc đĩagame bàigiải mã giấc mơbầu cuaslot gamecasinonổ hủdàn đềBắn cácasinodàn đềnổ hũtài xỉuslot gamecasinobắn cáđá gàgame bàithể thaogame bàisoi cầukqsssoi cầucờ tướngbắn cágame bàixóc đĩaAG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人爱游戏华体会华体会im体育kok体育开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育欧宝体育ob体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育开云体育开云体育棋牌棋牌沙巴体育买球平台新葡京娱乐开云体育mu88qh88

Serious about being an entrepreneur?

Leave behind the unqualified gurus who have never done it themselves. Follow for real-life experienced advice and thoughts.

Powered by ConvertKit


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *