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Fudge for funds
Teresa Klaus, manager of fudge operations for Fudgeraiser, makes fudge at Rainbow Confections on Monday. (Times photo: Marissa Weiher)
MONROE - Student groups and organizations in need of money have a delicious opportunity to raise funds thanks to a Monroe business.

Thanks to Fudgeraiser, organizations can raise money by selling orders of Monroe-produced fudge to donors.

Kristi Smith, owner of Fudgeraiser and Monroe sweet shop Rainbow Confections, said Fudgeraiser had a "soft launch" last April, when it held a fundraiser for Monroe nonprofit Shakespeare on the Edge Inc.

"We were testing the waters," Smith said. "We realized that we could do this more."

Fudgeraiser allows organizations to sell 10 flavors of fudge, either door-to-door or online. When orders are complete, the fudge is made to the orders' specifications, and the organization receives 40 percent of the sales.

Smith said Fudgeraiser "really hit its stride" last fall, when nine successful fundraisers were conducted throughout the holiday season. In fact, in light of Fudgeraiser's success, Smith said she leased a new building - located in the 100 block of North 18th Avenue, south of the Mobil station - in November to keep up with demand.

At Rainbow Confections, Smith said, only about 70 five-pound containers of fudge can be made at a time, and in a fairly cramped kitchen. Smith said the new building, which she said will be operational in April, will make fudge production more efficient.

Apart from Smith, Fudgeraiser also relies on five "outreach specialists" who seek out organizations that may be interested in setting up a fundraiser.

One of these specialists, Zen Johnston, said that although he primarily seeks out nonprofit organizations and hands out brochures, sometimes people come to him requesting a Fudgeraiser.

"We almost never turn them down," Johnston said. "We've only turned people down when we're already full."

Johnston also said that fundraisers could be set up on behalf of an individual, although tax issues make such fundraisers more complicated.

Another specialist, Colin Vestin, said he hopes to set up booths for Fudgeraisers at three different expos a month. Fudgeraiser made an appearance at the Madison Kids Expo last weekend.

Smith said the specialists' work helps to expand Fudgeraiser's geographic reach.

"Some of our fudge has been sent all the way to Texas, " Smith said. "So it's definitely getting out there."

Smith said Fudgeraiser stands out from other fundraising services in one way in particular: "It's fresh," Smith said. "We're basically making fresh fudge made to order."