A couple of years ago I held a bake sale to raise money for Parkinson’s UK and was so thrilled to have raised £350! Not bad for an afternoon’s work and indulging in one of my favourite hobbies! Bake sales are such an easy way to raise money to support your favourite charities and are actually really fun to put on too! When I started to plan my sale however I did find the process a little bit daunting, so thought I’d put together my top tips for holding a successful Charity Bake Sale.
I held my bake sale during Parkinson’s Awareness Week as I also wanted to raise awareness of the condition, as well as raise money. Parkinson’s is quite a misunderstood and unknown illness so I wanted to maximise on the press coverage the condition gets during Parkinson’s Awareness Week, with the hope that people would see my sale as an extension of news and radio reports and want to learn more about it, or at least buy a couple of cakes or donate to the cause.
By setting my date during Parkinson’s Awareness Week it also meant that there were pre-designed posters and themed marketing materials which I could use to promote the sale. Parkinson’s UK had a number of materials that you could order for free from their website, which was great for helping to advertise my bake sale, as well as having some official leaflets actually on my stall for people to take as they bought their cakes.
Also, by setting the date early and in advance, it means you have plenty of time to get organised and advertise.
Don’t be afraid to ask people to give you a hand with your bake sale – both with manning the stall, and actually helping to provide some cakes and treats to sell. My mum was a right trooper and baked at least 10 full sized cakes which she then bought up to my office, and she also was able to help me on the stand when there were meetings I had to go to (thanks Sue, you babe). My colleagues also really kindly offered to bake some goodies to sell and others also took turns helping me on the stand at busy points in the day such as lunchtime and after work when I definitely needed more than one person to sell. If people are offering to help bake I think it’s a good idea to ask what they are planning on making so you know what you already have covered. Cake sales need variety so everyone turning up with a Victoria Sponge won’t be very exciting or enticing.
Planning what you’re going to bake is key. I had a good look through my recipe books to plan the best combination of treats. Here are my best tips for things to think about when planning…
Go for a mix of baked goods and things that don’t need to be cooked (such as Refrigerator Cake Bars). I only had a single oven at home so this meant I could maximise my time and whilst one set of cakes was baking, I could whip up some Fridge Bars and get two batches finished in the same amount of time.
Shopping for ingredients and baking takes up quite a lot of time so make a schedule of what you’re going to make and when. I did a huge shop on Saturday for ingredients and then planned my baking around the next couple of days. Think about what day your sale is on – are there things you can make in advance which will keep a day or so ahead of sale? Is there any last minute assembly / decoration required which should be done on the day? How long does each type of cake take to make and cook? Will you have enough time whilst one batch is in the oven to then start whipping up your next batch?
Also (depending on the location of your sale and method of transport) plan how you’re going to get your cakes to the sale destination. I don’t have a car so planned taking my goodies in around when I could use the bus / tube outside of rush hour to prevent anything getting squashed!
When choosing what you want to make, try to choose things which involve similar ingredients. If you need 10 digestive biscuits for Fridge Bars, try to find another recipe which will use up the rest of the packet. This will stop wasted ingredients and be cheaper for you. I set myself a budget of money I would want to contribute to the charity and used that to buy my ingredients and what I had left over I put straight into the collection box. This is also why I used own brand chocolate etc too. It pretty much tastes the same and meant more money could go directly to helping my chosen charity. Shopping at a big supermarket also helped as their prices were a lot lower than the smaller express stores.
Try to choose a mix of sweet and savoury goods to sell. I found at lunch time lots of people said they didn’t want cake for lunch as they walked by, but soon came back and bought after they saw I had quiche and savoury flapjack on sale too! I also had some sugar cookies and gingerbread on sale, so if people didn’t want anything as sweet as a chocolate cupcake they had options too. The more you can appeal to a different range of appetites the more you will sell!
A couple of my colleagues made gluten free / dairy free cakes. These sold so quickly – people with specific dietary requirements were surprised to have something for sale they could eat and several people also just wanted to try something different.
Pricing your goods can be quite tricky. Too high and people will just pick up a cake at the local coffee shop and too low you won’t make any money for your charity which is why you’re doing all this in the first place! Think about how much cakes sell for in the local area and don’t be afraid to step up your game to fit in. I would advise being cheaper than the bakery round the road (after all, yours are probably of lower quality!) but don’t under do it. My friend said that at her work they sell everything for £1 – that way everyone knows straight away how much their haul will be and keeps queues moving quickly. I would definitely recommend rounding each price to either 50p or a full pound so you don’t have to fiddle around with smaller coins and adding up and working out change is quick and easy.
I also bought a few packs of pre-made cupcakes from the supermarket to use as back up in case I ran out of treats. These were a life saver towards the end of the day and actually a really good money maker! I think a pack of 12 from Sainsburys was £2 and I sold each cake for 50p, so they all sold for triple the amount I paid for them. Lots of lovely cash for Parkinson’s UK and lots of happy customers.
One thing I very nearly forgot to organise was my kitty! You’ll need to have a little stash of change available at the very start of your cake sale in order to give your first buyers change. I recommend having a couple of notes as well as plenty of pound coins and 50p’s etc just in case. Remember to note down how much you had in the kitty so you’ll know to minus this amount off your final total for the day so you know exactly how much you’ve raised.
Most importantly – have fun! I really enjoyed putting on my bake sale. Sure it was stressful at times but I really enjoyed planning my cakes, baking and decorating them all and also seeing how many people enjoyed them! It was a real thrill seeing the money pot get fuller and fuller and knowing that I was doing something to help an incredible cause both through financial giving and also raising awareness. I also got to meet lots of new people who I didn’t know before and learnt more about my colleagues too – who knew our Head of Facilities was a professionally trained chef?! (His gluten free lemon drizzle cake was INCREDIBLE!) I also learnt that another of my colleagues also has personal experience of Parkinson’s, so it’s been nice to have someone to share experiences with too.
I hope you found some of these tips helpful. Feel free to tweet me or Instagram me (@emsypickle on both) if you have any questions I didn’t cover! I think I will post some of the recipes to the cakes that I made too, so do let me know if you’d like to see them.
*Still spreading the love from my bake sale, if you would like to learn more about Parkinson’s UK, the excellent work they do to support those with the condition and their families, or the condition itself and how you can get involved to support and help, check out their website here: www.parkinsons.org.uk
I live in Brixton in London. I eat out far too much, am always planning my next trip and have a borderline unhealthy obsession with Harry Potter.