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Firework sales proceeds a bit baffling for Lathrop non-profits

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POSTED August 13, 2010 3:21 a.m.

I’m probably being naïve, but after seeing the final numbers in the first Safe and Sane Fireworks fund-raising in Lathrop, I can’t help being baffled by the scant net amounts received by the five nonprofit groups whose dedicated volunteers toiled hard for seven days in the sizzling summer heat to earn money for their pet community projects.

Below are the figures I’m talking about which came from Lathrop Director of Finance Terri Vigna who crunched – and is still crunching – the final numbers. The Lathrop Steelers youth football group is yet to report their sales, and the reported figures from the Lighthouse Community Church headed by Pastor Tim Voogd are still just estimations at this time.

The Lathrop Sunrise Rotary ($15,489 gross and $ 5,368 net) and the Lathrop Celebration Committee ($ 27,764 gross and $ 12,801 net) made approximately a third of their total sales receipts. Lighthouse Community and Lathrop Celebration Committee almost hit the half-way mark.

I guess what I’m looking for are the itemized deductions. I’ve heard of businesses making profit margins of 10 cents to the dollar, if that, which would make the net figures captured by the nonprofits from the fireworks sound quite good. How many spaghetti feeds or car washes, for example, would have given the Lathrop Celebration Committee the $12,801 that they realized in seven days just by operating the fireworks sales?

Still, it would be nice to know all the details involved in fireworks fund-raisers, and to understand what related expenses are chiseled out of the gross proceeds. Are these information supposed to be confidential?

From the explanation given by Diane Lazard of the Lathrop Community Committee, some of those expenses they incurred were the rent for the site – in their case, the space in the parking lot at Save Mart shopping center on North Harlan Road – plus the sales booth which was provided by the TNT company, with the job of setting them up and then tearing them down also charged separately at $75 each. They also had to buy the various fireworks products from TNT that they sold at the booth. Did they get any price breaks to maximize their net proceeds?

Perhaps, these small details could help the other nonprofit groups make their decisions next time as to how they can improve their profit margins from the fireworks fundraisers.

Even more important than the profits that the groups made, however, was the spirit of cooperation and volunteerism displayed by the scores of Lathrop citizens who stepped up to the plate. The roughly dozen volunteers who lent their presence at the Lathrop Celebration Committee booth willingly and gladly volunteered precious personal time because of their desire to see the city and its citizens come together next year to celebrate the city’s 21st birthday literally with a bang and with plenty of pomp and circumstance. Among those volunteers were City Manager Cary Keaten and city clerk Mitzi Ortiz. Lazard said they worked for hours at the booth on the Friday they were supposed to be off from work.

“Cary Keaten worked all day that Friday; he was definitely a lot of help. Mitzi, too. They were very supportive and helpful and gave us a lot of moral support,” Lazard said.

City Finance Director Terri Vigna came and picked up the money (from the sales receipts) Friday and Saturday and figured all that  mess up,” added Lazard.

Their net gains notwithstanding, Lazard said she and the committee members are happy with the money they were able to raise from the city’s first Safe & Sane Fireworks fundraiser.

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