Care Packages Venture
College students studying far from home might enjoy a few snacks, goodies and a note from family and friends back home. This little package packs a lot of love! Often times, care packages are prepared by parents, churches, friends or organizations from hometowns across the world. We want to expedite that process and make it easier to show students how much their loved ones care for them!
Our chapter came up with three types of packages to send: 1) a basic needs package that contains toothpaste, Band-Aids, pencils and candy 2) Spa box that contains mini lotion bottles, nail polish and hair products 3) Breakfast box that contains cereal, granola bars, coffee packages, etc. You can be creative and imaginative with what you put in your packages!
We thought contacting parents would be the best market to tap into first. To facilitate a connection between Nourish at Hope College and parents, we contacted the person in charge of student development. In a meeting with her, we explained the venture and its purpose- to create community on the Hope college campus, have parents send some love and energy to their student right around mid-term time, and to support our efforts as Hope students to make a difference in the lives of others.
The mission of Hope is to educate student for lives of leadership and service, so we were trying to serve others. We drafted an email to the parents to explain the project and sent it to the student development person we met with earlier. She then approved the message and forwarded it to Office of Parents and Alumni. In the email, we included an attached word document that contained the different options and prices for each box (with pictures). The document asked for their student’s name, dorm and room number, parents’ email address, child’s favorite color, and a note from the parents. We asked them to write a check and send it back with the attached document. Our address and contact info was located in the bottom of the sheet and encouraged parents to contact us with questions or special requests.
Revenue and Expenses:
Our goal was to make a profit equal to at least half of the revenue earned, which we achieved! Our total revenue was a little over $3,000. We managed to get reimbursed for all expenses, including care package items, gas and shipping costs. Sometimes members had to absorb costs, such as gas and picking up items in-store, however, they were able to be paid back in a timely manner by saving all receipts. At most, a single item in a box should cost no more than $1-5.
Profits and Other Benefits:
The profit was huge so it was definitely worth the time and effort. Planning ahead would’ve helped us get an even larger profit! We inserted flyers in the packages with information about Nourish and how they can become interns, so it was great advertisement for our Chapter.
The venture is capital intensive and labor intensive, especially when making sure the right packages are delivered to the correct student. Depending on how many packages of the same kind you get requested, you might have to buy a lot of the same item, which makes budgeting difficult. Some items were not permitted in boxes, such as any food that was not packaged (except for donuts), so it’s key to stick to simple non-perishable items for the packages.
Targeting seasons like mid-terms, finals week, Christmas (especially for international students who wouldn’t get to go home), Valentines (both students and parents could be a potential market here), Thanksgiving, etc, is a fantastic idea for marketing.
Make a group bonding event for packing boxes! It would be fun to get a lot of members involved. Plus, it gets most of the work done in a short amount of time.
Plan ahead of time! See if you can get items donated by local organizations to save money. Research prices at dollar stores to compare prices. If you expect to get a lot of orders, look into buying items in bulk. Put a deadline on when the orders can be requested, otherwise you will be messed up in terms of your planning and getting stuff done. Once you have all the orders, make it a priority to deliver these items as soon as possible to the right people, that way your customer is more likely to purchase from you next year too.
Would you recommend this to other chapters?
I would recommend this venture to any chapter. As long as you are committed, you can always make a decent profit!
Catherine Namwezi and Chelsea Steinfeldt- firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com