Everyone, grab your oven mitts and start your ovens! It’s time to talk about how to host a bake sale for charity.
If you are someone whose sweet treat platter is always the talk of the town, why not support a great cause with some of your baked goodies?
Worried about needing to flex your creative juices to hold a successful bake sale? Fear not. Sticking to the basics is often best when you’re looking to satisfy someone’s sweet tooth.
In fact, the most important of the top tips and first piece of advice I’ll share is this: Know your audience.
This short phrase should be your constant mantra any time you’re discussing how you want the bake sale to work.
Ask Yourself 9 Key Questions Before You Host A Bake Sale
So, you’ve committed the mantra, “know your audience,” to memory.
Now, you must ask yourself nine key questions before you add your bake sale to the list of community events in a local newspaper.
If you’re a one-person show, then take some time to think clearly and be honest with yourself about your time, resources, and availability.
If you’re pulling a small team of people together, it’s a good idea to use these 10 questions to create a survey using a tool like Google Forms and solicit people’s feedback and insights.
Obtaining a level of consensus within your group will help the planning go smoothly and is a great way to keep stress levels low.
Now, let’s reflect on how you want your bake sale for charity to work.
Question 1: What charity or cause will the bake sale support?
If you’ve arrived here already knowing you’re planning a school fundraiser, then you have a quick win because this question has been asked and answered.
If you like the idea of bake sale fundraisers, but don’t know which nonprofit or cause you want to support then I have shared two great causes below that would love for your to bake on their behalf.
Cookies For Kids’ Cancer
Cancer support DIY tutorials and information are a large part of Create To Donate.
So sharing information about Cookies For Kids’ Cancer is a natural fit.
Did you know that 43 kids A DAY are diagnosed with cancer in the United States? Yes, you read that right, 43 kids a day.
Cookies For Kids’ Cancer’s website explains in more detail that there are, “more than a dozen major types of childhood cancers, and each is as unique as the child fighting it.”
“Pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children in the U.S. Two thirds of childhood cancer survivors suffer long-term side effects — a result of the treatments that “cured” them. [Cookies For Kids’ Cancer is] committed to funding research for new and improved and *less toxic* treatment options for kids.”
The bake sale campaign for Cookies For Kids’ Cancer does add some levity, though, asking you to “be a good cookie”.
All you need to do is register your bake sale with them to receive support and tips throughout your planning and fundraising.
No Kid Hungry
I have been a fan and supporter of No Kid Hungry for many years because I want to do what I can to combat food insecurity.
If you’re not familiar with the term “food insecure,” it means that the household doesn’t have enough food for every family member to lead a healthy life.
All those stories of parents watching on while their kids ate the little food they could afford and while the adult went without? This is the likely reality for as many as 13 million children in the United States.
So No Kid Hungry wants you to exercise “flour power.”
Because, when you have a bake sale to benefit the nonprofit, “every $10 you raise can connect a child with up to 100 meals. Every cookie and cupcake can make a difference.”
If you want to get started, head over to their website where they have a whole section of their website that walks you through how to host a bake sale for No Kid Hungry. They also offer some fun incentives to keep you and your group motivated!
I choose to highlight Cookies For Kids’ Cancer and No Kid Hungry because both organizations are making a difference for children and families in need.
Each organization also provides a toolset that makes your event easier to host and manage. I especially like that they have a fundraising page that you can share with family and friends.
If you want to support a local nonprofit that doesn’t offer similar tools, I recommend you get in touch with them beforehand to confirm your bake sale follows all of their donation rules as well as any health codes or government guidelines in your area.
Question 2: Do you want to host an in-person bake sale or virtual bake sale?
Hosting An In-Person Bake Sale
If you choose to have an in-person bake sale it can be a lot of fun. It also means, however, adding some additional layers of planning.
First, you’ll want to think about the type of venue you will use. There is no single ideal location for your event, but using a visible location that gets solid foot traffic is important.
Here are some ideas for bake sale venues:
- get permission from a local shopping mall to set up out front of a store,
- set up before or after school in a high-traffic area on the campus
- set up a bake sale table in front of your house
- reserve a room in one of the local community centers
- asking one of the grocery stores in your area if you can set up in front of the store
You also want to determine how many volunteers you’ll need for the day of the bake sale and how you manage them.
Then, you want to decide how you want to use the volunteers. Will they work in shifts like setting up, selling baked goods, and break down? Or do you just have a small group work all day?
There are also specific supplies that you’ll need for an in-person charity bake sale like:
- table decor (table cloth, some boxes or baskets to display the baked goods, some things to complete the overall aesthetic of the table)
- a cash box or fanny pack to hold the cash you’ll receive and use to make change
- flyers that provide additional information on the charity and cause (optional)
- credit card processor (for accepting credit cards if that’s an option you’ll offer)
Hosting A Virtual Bake Sale For Charity
Hosting an online bake sale involves a similar amount of effort. You’ll just focus on a different set of tasks to ensure bake sale success.
One of the biggest benefits of an online bake sale is lead time. You can take orders and then bake exactly what has been ordered.
For a virtual bake sale for charity, setting expectations is key, especially when it comes to delivery of the individual items.
Some additional questions you should answer:
- How will you take orders? Email? A Google form?
- How will you accept payment? Cash only or credit cards too?
- How will you deliver the items? Will you have a location for pick-up or make deliveries to certain places?
- Will you accept orders outside of your local area?
Question 3: How will you fund the supplies?
Depending on how much you and your small team, if you have one, intend to bake (and sell!), the costs could be significant.
So, make a rough tally of not only the raw ingredients you need, but also any supplies for packing and printing of flyers, etc.
You can then determine if the cost estimate is something you can afford to be out-of-pocket, if you need to solicit donations (cash or gift cards), or if you will price your items to cover the costs.
If the items are priced to include the costs, make sure to state that clearly in your signs and any type of communications. It’s the usual: “100% of the profits will be donated to <enter charity name here>.”
Question 4: How do you want to “brand” your bake sale?
Now, I’m not saying you have to create a whole marketing campaign, but having a cohesive message throughout all of your communications is helpful and effective.
So, what is your bake sale message or tagline? How will you communicate your purpose to people who are interested in participating in your sale or purchasing the baked goods once they’re available?
As always, keeping it simple is your best bet.
Explain which charity will benefit from the proceeds and why you feel supporting them is important. If you overload people with too much information, it’s hard to follow and they may lose interest.
Question 5: What bake sale treats will you offer?
One again, the “know your audience” mantra is key to answer this question.
You also want to think about the KISS principle (i.e., keep it simple silly!). Yes, I know people usually end that acronym with a different word, but I’m not a fan of it.
As you might imagine, small treats are often best sellers – think cookies and cupcakes. Plus, you don’t want to have to cut pieces of cake or pie. It just adds to the overall production time.
Another important part of your decision? Ingredient availability. You don’t want to run out of the essentials like flour or eggs, for example, and not be able to get more.
Question 6: How will you bake it all?
Before you start pulling baking ingredients out of the pantry, you want to plan how and when you’ll get all of the baking done.
Will you be able to do it all in your own kitchen or do you need to involve others? Make sure you add some wiggle room in your timing estimates for those little hiccups that always happen when you’re baking.
If your goal is to host a larger event, test the waters within your network to see if there is a commercial kitchen you could use.
As always, regardless of where you’re baking, make sure you know about any local ordinances related to selling baked goods.
You will also want to have people sign-up ahead of time to commit to what they’ll contribute.
A tool like SignUpGenius.com will make this process easy for you and your team.
Question 7: How will you package and price your product?
You may choose to sell the bake sale treats sold individually to be eaten onsite. This isn’t the best way to sell a lot of baked goods, though.
To sell as much as possible, you should:
- think about selling the homemade treats in different quantities (e.g., a single item vs. items packaged together in increments of, 3, 6, or 12)
- price the larger quantities so that the customer gets a slight discount
- package the items so that people can see them (but not plastic wrap because it may come undone)
- have small boxes on-hand for people who want to mix and match
If you’re stumped on places to buy nice but cost effective packaging, stop by the Dollar Store for goodies bags and the Cash & Carry (or restaurant supply) in your area for takeout boxes.
Now that people use takeout boxes for meal prep at home, Walmart and other big box stores may also be a good place for packaging options.
Question 8: How will you advertise your bake sale?
Detailed planning, shopping, and baking are essential – but if you don’t have any customers, it’s all for naught.
So, think about how you want to plan for success using proactive advertising.
Not only can you leverage your personal network, but also appeal to your social media network.
You should also tap into local businesses to see if they’ll allow flyers in their windows, and pitch local newspapers or a TV station to do a community interest story.
When you’re advertising the bake sale or talking about it, make sure to remind people that no purchase is necessary. You’ll gladly accept straight donations too!
If you’re hosting an in-person bake sale, consider having a donation box on the table.
Question 9: How will you handle your big day in-person?
I realize that the answer to this question could be a whole post of its own (and maybe someday it will).
But for now, here are some key things to keep in mind and include in your planning:
- How many tables and chairs will you need?
- How will you keep yourself and your goods safe from the elements? (e.g., have an umbrella on hand for sun or rain or hats and gloves for cold days)
- What accessories do you want to use to make the table look fun and festive?
- Who will be responsible for holding and keeping track of the cash?
- How many coolers will you need to bring to keep product that isn’t set out safe and fresh?
- Do you want to include some volunteers to be “sign twirlers” (or something of that nature) to bring attention to where you’re located?
- What information about the charity will you have available to read while at the event or take home?
Let’s Toast To Bake Sale Success!
With the right planning having a bake sale for charity can be a lot of fun while earning money for a good cause.
I hope these nine questions have given you a solid foundation to think through how you can also make it a straightforward and low-stress event.
Cheers to your bake sale success!