Ever wondered how to make £400 in 3 hours? I’ll tell you…with popcorn! Allow me to explain.

Pretty soon after I signed up to run the marathon for LCF, I set up my Virgin Giving Sponsorship page. I added my mugshot and wrote a little, “why you should sponsor me” piece and then had to add the donations target. £2,000. This created a progress bar along the top of the page which, in that moment, looked exceptionally sad and empty. I needed to get my fundraising off to the flying start I hope to get on April 22nd and so I shared the page with some family and friends and got scheming.

For over 40 years my family have organised the fireworks display in our local village. It has grown to be quite big, with over 800 people attending each year and has the space, so I plotted, for a new churro stall. Who doesn’t crave a hot and sugary churro on a cold evening? Sadly though, people weren’t too keen on having a home-made vat of boiling oil for frying churros at a family bonfire night, and so, after a bit of a rethink, my churros became popcorn.

A little haggling and £60 managed to get me 3 enormous bags of pre-popped corn and 250 cardboard cones. I designed some signs, came up with an Apprentice-worthy pricing strategy (£2 for 1 cone, or 3 for a fiver) and on the morning of 4th November I headed out to the bonfire field, enlisting the help of my brother and sister along the way.

The set up was really quite ingenious. We drilled holds into some boards of wood which then sat in trays, allowing us to pre-fill cones and have them standing ready for our customers. I also created a “roving stand” with the use of a belt, a strap cable and an old bread crate which was meant for my 12-year-old sister to use (tapping into the “let’s buy popcorn from the cute girl” market). Unfortunately, she got tired of this after 20 minutes and so the bread crate came back to me.

The whole event was, as usual, a great success. The hunger for popcorn suffered a slow start but soon we couldn’t keep up with the demand, and by the time the final cars left the field, we had sold out. We’d been handing out cones all night and the wads of notes safely curled up in my brother’s pocket suggested that we had taken a decent amount, but I could not believe it when the final count came in… over £460! Popcorn is, it seems, the way to people’s generous hearts.

The popcorn stall was the perfect way to kickstart my fundraising, raising not only cash, but awareness too. People who had never even heard of LCF were soon asking all sorts of questions about the work that we do, and the groups we fund and were, I must say, very impressed! I couldn’t have done this without the generous help of other people, and to everyone who drilled holes, filled cones and wore the very fashionable roving popcorn stand, I am very grateful. £400 is an amazing start and I am excited to see what fundraising schemes come next. 

Lauren will be documenting her journey to the London Marathon through regular blog posts. She is raising funds for The London Community Foundation, helping to build and stronger and more vibrant London for everyone. Check out Lauren’s fundraising efforts or donate today.