Dealership Spotlight: Smoky Mountain Fundraising

on November 19, 2021

November is a time for giving thanks, giving back, and gathering with loved ones. For this month’s “Dealership Spotlight”, we wanted to feature a dealership that embodies these values and emphasizes the true meaning of the holiday season. Smoky Mountain Fundraising became part of the Butter Braid® Fundraising team in 2007. Since the beginning, this company’s mission has been to help families in the community get the opportunity to make special memories through fundraising because, for this dealership, family is everything.


In the early 2000s, Karen Fontaine was looking to start a new career. After taking some time off from her nursing job to take care of her niece, Karen knew she wanted to do something different. She was looking for a job that would give her more flexibility to spend time with her family and be her own boss. To Karen, family is the most important thing, so a job that would allow her to help other families and spend time with her own would be the most ideal.

Thankfully, in 2007, Karen was presented with the opportunity to open a Butter Braid Pastry fundraising dealership in her area. This was exactly what Karen was looking for as it would allow her to work with the great people in her community and would work around her family’s schedule. In July of that year, she opened Smoky Mountain Fundraising in Alcoa, Tennessee.

At the beginning, Karen was working with a very limited budget. However, she was determined to make her dealership a success, so she found a way around any obstacle she found in her path. She was never afraid to ask other, more experienced dealers for help, and she found her own answers to problems when no one seemed to have any.

Changes to the Dealership

Today, Karen still runs the business almost entirely on her own. She does get plenty of support from her husband, Dean, whose main job, according to Karen, is to lift all of the heavy things. While Dean is doing the physical heavy lifting, Karen is updating her dealership. She dedicates a lot of time to streamlining her business, so she can better serve her customers.

Since 2007, one of her biggest changes has been to her freezer storage. In her first year of operation, her freezer could only store less than 200 pastries. Now, Smoky Mountain Fundraising can house more than 5000 pastries. The second biggest change was to the delivery vehicle. This new van has a wheelchair lift that helps with more of the heavy lifting and makes deliveries much more efficient. Finally, the addition of a Zebra printer has helped decrease sorting time tremendously and makes deliveries look very professional. All these modifications to tools and equipment have helped to make Smoky Mountain Fundraising a dealership that families and groups can depend on for a successful fundraising program.

Fundraising Groups

Smoky Mountain Fundraising has helped just about every group imaginable run successful fundraisers over the years. These groups have raised money for new playground equipment, classroom supplies, sports clubs, church pews, mission trips, field trips, band uniforms, extracurricular activities, and much more. Smoky Mountain Fundraising had a seller in one group sell a total of 175 pastries which is currently this dealership’s record for most pastries sold by one person! In total, Smoky Mountain Fundraising has run a total of 766 fundraisers, with groups raising $893,794.53 for their causes.

For Karen, these fundraisers are about more than just raising money. Her whole life, Karen has had a giving and helpful heart. She has always gone out of her way to help others and give back. This is why she’s so devoted to making her fundraisers as simple as possible. Smoky Mountain Fundraising’s devotion to its groups is why the dealership has such a high customer-satisfaction rate. Once a group starts working with Smoky Mountain Fundraising, they never want to work with another fundraising company. They’re amazed at how easy she makes the process; “hassle free” is the most common way groups describe her fundraisers. Loxy B., a local group leader, said, “More than satisfied – excellent customer service. No improvements needed. You have this down to a perfect science!”

Fun Facts

Karen doesn’t just sell Butter Braid Pastries in her fundraisers; she also bakes them! Whether it’s for group samplings, events, or just a Sunday treat, Karen is always baking pastries. Since she started in 2007, she has personally baked 7,147 pastries! Her personal goal is to break 10,000.

The local annual Christmas parade is Karen’s favorite event for Smoky Mountain Fundraising to take part in. She says it’s so much fun to see people’s face when they get something special like a potholder, pop socket, bouncy ball, or candy that she’s specially made for her business. For Karen, she loves this chance to spread the word about her business and to give back. It’s a time to see all the families she serves in her community together, having fun, and spreading cheer.

We are very fortunate to have someone as dedicated to helping families as Karen Fontaine on our team. Smoky Mountain Fundraising is a dealership that brings a lot of care and attention to its fundraisers and the communities it serves. If you are looking to run a fundraiser in the Tennessee area, give Smoky Mountain Fundraising a call today! Let them make you part of their fundraising family; you’ll be very glad you did.

Connect with Smoky Mountain Fundraising today!



Interested in becoming a dealer?
Head over to our Dealership Opportunity page to learn more.

Want to read more posts like this?
Check out our Dealership Spotlight feature on Freckled Moose Fundraising.

How to Increase Seller Participation

on November 5, 2021

Fundraisers are important to the success of many organizations. A strong fundraising effort helps to ensure there are enough resources to support all the activities a group participates in throughout the year. Much of a fundraiser’s success depends upon a high level of seller involvement. If a group has high seller participation, they’re more likely to sell more products and, in turn, raise more funds. However, getting kids interested in fundraising can be challenging. Thankfully, there are some relatively simple things you can do to increase seller participation and make a big difference in your next fundraiser.

Why Doesn’t Everyone Get Involved?

You may be thinking, “If fundraisers are so beneficial, why doesn’t everyone participate in their school or organization’s fundraising efforts?” There are many reasons why kids choose not to sell. Some students may be too busy with other extracurricular activities or family obligations. Others may simply not be properly motivated. Sometimes, it isn’t the sellers at all. Depending on the age of your group, fundraising efforts can largely fall on the parents. Many parents don’t have a lot of extra time to commit to fundraising. Knowing what obstacles are in the way of your ability to increase seller participation will help you find the right solution for you group.

How to Increase Seller Participation:

  1. Get parents involved

How to Increase Seller Participation infographic - thermometer with step 1: get parents involved

As we already mentioned, parents are often the driving force behind a child’s fundraising efforts. Involving them in your planning process and giving them time to prepare is key to getting more parents to participate.

Giving parents plenty of notice about your fundraiser allows them to carve out time in advance to devote to your event. This increases the likelihood that they will participate. You can do an email blast, put an announcement on your group’s website, send home flyers, or all of the above to help parents know what to expect. Remember, frequency is the key to good communication. Send reminders out often and use multiple mediums to get the word out.

Also, don’t forget to tell them what you’re fundraising for. Parents are more likely to contribute when they understand exactly what the proceeds of a fundraiser are being used for and how it will benefit their children.

Check out our list of ways to get parents more involved in your fundraiser for more ideas!

  1. Set the right schedule

How to Increase Seller Participation infographic - thermometer with step 2: set right schedule

If you want to increase seller participation in your fundraiser, the timing of the event is critical. Don’t just limit yourself to doing one fundraiser at the same time every year. Try switching it up from year to year to see what time works best for the most members of your group and for your community.

If you plan to run multiple fundraisers in one year, be sure you space them out. When you try to squeeze too many fundraisers into too short a period, sellers and supporters can start to feel the effects of fundraising fatigue. Students and parents get burnt out, and customers may start reducing the number of items they purchase from each fundraiser. Focus on better results with just one or two fundraisers a year.

  1. Get your group motivated

How to Increase Seller Participation infographic - thermometer with step 3: motivate group

You can also increase seller participation by offering unique rewards to the members of your group that participate. Motivate sellers by giving them the chance to win a pizza party or a dress-up day if you meet your group goal. You can also have special prizes for the top seller in your group such as principal for a day, a free movie ticket, or a no homework pass.

For more ways to get your group motivated, read our post on cost-effective ideas to motivate sellers during fundraising.

  1. Give periodic reminders to encourage sellers

How to Increase Seller Participation infographic - thermometer with step 4: give reminders

Keeping sellers motivated throughout the fundraising process helps to prevent seller apathy after the kick-off. Pump them up during the day by giving them friendly, exciting, and inspiring reminders. Also, give them a visual representation of their progress! If kids see a fill-in thermometer or progress chart showing how close they are to achieving their goal, it will help motivate them!

Putting in the time and effort to increase seller participation will go a long way towards making your next fundraiser a success. In the end, the best thing you can do to get more people involved is to share your enthusiasm. Excitement is contagious! When kids see how fun fundraising can be, they’re more likely to jump on board. Doing extra little things to keep that excitement going will have a positive influence on the members of your group and on the overall outcome of your fundraiser.

Looking for more sweet ideas?
Head over to our Pinterest page for inspiring ideas using Butter Braid® brand products.

Want more fundraising tips?
Check out our post on why you should Double Your Fundraisers!