Maximizing Fundraising Dollars

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - June 24, 2009
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The Kala Kokua crew (from left) Alton Uehara, Yukio Yukawa and Rod Suzumoto deliver turkey drumsticks

Fundraising isn’t easy. It’s lot of work, and often requires cash up front or a minimum order, which can affect the nonprofit’s bottom line. So a group of fundraising friends started Kala Kokua to address some of these concerns and make life a bit easier for fundraisers.

“We created something to help parents and organizations,” says Rod Suzumoto, a partner in Kala Kokua. “These days we have to fundraise for trips and registration fees for our children. Our program that we created is no-deposit and nominimums. We want to make sure the organization can maximize its fundraising.”

Kala Kokua sells a pack of two turkey drumsticks fully cooked, smoked, frozen and vacuum packed. A 16-ounce frozen kalua pork package also is available, and a 20-ounce kalua pork option debuts this summer.

Here’s how it works: Kala Kokua prints tickets with the organization’s name on them as well as the date, time and location of the product pickup. Kala Kokua then asks for the number of tickets the organization thinks it can sell, and three days before pickup, they put in the order for how many tickets were presold. The fundraising organization pays for what they’ve presold when Kala Kokua delivers the meat to the pickup location, about 45 minutes before the start of the sale. Many organizations have a cooler and a shady area reserved for about three hours. Kala Kokua suggests selling what you have if there are any walk-up orders, and then request additional products to be sent to you that day.

Suzumoto and his partners Yukio Yukawa and Alton Uehara have been friends since seventh grade at Kaimuki Intermediate School. Jason Tani also was involved when the company started in 2005, although he’s stepped out for a while.

Their friendship has pulled the partners through many experiences before, and this business is no different.

“Our bunch has been together for a long time,” says Yukawa. “We’ve done volunteer work together. We worked Summer Fun together at the Y. We played sports together on teams. Even playing together on teams is like working together like a job.”

Yukawa and Suzumoto, who both work in the hotel industry, talk to the organizations about the products. Uehara, who works in retail, handles ordering products.

“Being fully cooked and a frozen product, it is easy to handle,” explains Uehara. “When we do this we meet good people, we make new friends, and we like doing this year after year.”

The business partners acknowledge the hard work their friends and family put into supporting their efforts as well as the collaboration of other fundraising opportunities.

Kala Kokua sells on the Neighbor Islands, as well. For more information, call 721-3432, or log onto

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