Mark Robert Halper Photography

OK, let’s say your 12-year-old daughter comes home from school and says, without enthusiasm, “I’m supposed to sell cookie dough to raise money for my school band.” Oh, no. You haven’t even used up all the pizza dough from the last fundraiser. You’d prefer to just make a $10 or $20 donation to the band, but then your teenager doesn’t get credit for that. So, what do you do?

If you’re Chris Stebnitz, co-owner of Stebnitz Builders, in Delavan, Wis., you usually just pick up the tab yourself so that neighbors and friends won’t have to be bothered. But this year when his son Mason arrived home ready to sell cookie dough to benefit his football league, Chris and Mason decided to think outside the (cookie) box. Along the way they learned some important lessons, gave folks who have very little a special surprise, did some company marketing, and raised significant funds for the football league.


First, that “impossible” goal. Chris and Mason decided to sell “100 boxes at $15 a pop in three days.” The next step was to figure out how to do it. What if they reached out to everyone they knew, literally everyone, whether or not they lived in Delavan or across the country, in Oregon or Massachusetts? That would get them numbers. But how could they deliver the dough? Chris, who is chair of the United Way of his county, which supports 46 agencies, knew churches, food pantries, and homeless shelters that would love to have food donations. “A plate full of cookies at a homeless shelter can be a small surprise that lights up a recipient’s day,” he explains.

They decided to call their outreach “Doughnation” and set up a special “event” on Facebook. They then e-mailed their entire database giving people on the list the option to take delivery of the dough or to donate their cookies to charity. To date they’ve sold 120 boxes ($1,800) of which 75% have been donated. Two days into the promotion, the coach looked to Chris to donate his usual $50 and was blown away by the 60 boxes they had already sold.

Mixing Marketing

While this was never done as a marketing tactic, the results call out for Chris, who does the marketing for Stebnitz Builders, to utilize those side benefits. “We hope to inspire others,” he says. He will photograph the kids delivering the cookie dough to the nonprofits, write up and distribute press releases, and publish those photos in the company’s newsletter. This is an “up with people” and everybody-wins nifty idea.

When asked which of the numerous cookie types is the best, Mason divulged “Chocolate chunk is the quarterback!” ??—Linda Case is founder of Remodelers Advantage, a national company that gives remodelers the tools to achieve profitability and success. 301.490.5620; Click here to read more from Linda Case.??