Make the Bread, Buy the Butter | npENGAGE

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter

By on Sep 29, 2011


I was stuck on a US Airways flight and the only thing I had to read was an old edition of their magazine.  The cover story was titled Make the Bread, Buy the Butter and I have to say it was probably the best in-flight magazine article I’ve ever read.

The article written by Jennifer Reese, the author of the Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, and tells the story of cookbook’s creation.  Jennifer went from being employeed and debating the need for fozen PB&J sandwiches to losing her job. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Instantly, I was stabbed with the predictable financial anxiety, which I attended to by taking an overdue video back to the video store and calling my husband to make sure that he still had his job… The sky had fallen, yet when I looked up, there it was, vast and blue above me. Red apples weighted down the branches of our tree. I thought, I should really pick those, before the squirrels get them. I can make applesauce. I can make apple butter. I can make chutney. Who needs a job when you have an apple tree? They didn’t have jobs in Little House in the Big Woods.

Even as I thought this, sitting happily on my steps, I knew it to be completely ridiculous. A job is more valuable than an apple tree. People can’t live on apple sauce and no one even likes chutney. Plus, I hate canning.

And yet a question lingered over the months that followed. Where is that sweet spot between buying and making? What does the market do cheaper and better?

Jennifer decided to anwser these questions, but what I liked most is her approach.  Yes, you can make everything they sell in a grocery store, but what’s worth your time to make?  This what struck me.

Often when you- DIY- you don’t take into account the financial cost of doing the work.  By financial cost I’m referring to: time.  Time is money.  Jennifer’s experience got me thinking.  When it comes to peer-to-peer fundraising events – When do you DIY and when do you get a PRO?

When creating your event budget take your time into consideration.  Your time is valuable and often under-valued when planning events.  The best hiring a PRO experience I’ve ever had is when I was managing the walk program at the Alzheimer’s Association, DC Chapter.  After years of recruiting volunteers and begging staff to show up at 6:00 am to help set up for the walk, we decided to hire movers.  Setting up for a large event is probably one of the most taxing jobs and the 6am start time doesn’t help.

I know what you’re thinking movers… really… but, volunteers can do that.  Yes, volunteers and staff can move all the tables, chairs, water, food, t-shirts and other event day swag.  But, recruiting volunteers takes time.  Scheduling and communicating with volunteers takes time.  Praying volunteers show up adds stress.  I’m usually pretty relaxed on event day, because it’s now out of my control.  At this point I need to just roll the dice and hope we made our budget and everything goes as planned.  The only stress I usually experience on event day is set up, making sure the site is perfect when the walkers show up – this is their day.  And on that beautiful October morning, there was no stress thanks to the movers.  They arrived, moved all stuff, and I just watched.  It was the first event I’ve been to where I didn’t need to move tables, boxes, or helium tanks (Stela… that ones for you).

For me movers aren’t a luxury; they’re a necessity.  The money I spent was totally worth it and it didn’t break the bank.  It wasn’t only a time savings on the event day, but the movers where a stress reliever during the entire planning process.  We saved a ton of time (which is money) leading up to the event by not having to recruit and manage so many volunteers and we were able to use that time to steward our fundraisers.  So for me hiring movers was a win win.

Maybe hiring movers is not for you.  But, when do you get a PRO and when do you DIY? I’m curious, please share your stories.


Amy Braiterman, principal strategy consultant at Blackbaud, supports customers with their peer-to-peer fundraising events with a process she refers to as “data-driven strategy.” Amy’s data driven strategy analyzes how effective event participants are using online fundraising tools and takes those results to develop an event fundraising plan. Prior to joining Blackbaud, Amy earned her fundraising stripes managing events for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Alzheimer’s Association and Share Our Strength. She shares her fundraising know how here on npENGAGE, by hosting educational webinars and speaking at customer conferences

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