Your Step-by-Step Guide to Planning a Bake Sale

To pull off this fundraiser, you'll need to enlist volunteers, find a location, and advertise the event.

Who doesn't love a bake sale? It's a fun (and delicious!) way to fundraise for a school, team, place of worship, or other organization. Selling donated baked goods and having people volunteer their time means the clever fundraising model is almost 100% profit. Plus, just about everyone would agree there's nothing better than nibbling on a homemade cookie or brownie while watching a ballgame or strolling through the park.

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Planning a bake sale isn't difficult, but it does require organizational skills. You'll need to find a location with high foot traffic, spend time advertising the event, and—most importantly—enlist people to bake and deliver the items to the sale. With a streamlined checklist, though, your bake sale will be stress free and profitable for the cause close to your heart.

1. Enlist Volunteers

It's impossible to pull off a bake sale if it's a one-person show. Instead of tackling everything yourself, start by enlisting a few volunteers. You'll need people to help bake, advertise, set up the sale, process payments, and help with clean-up. "The bake sale is a concept that allows you to expand or contract based on your own resources and abilities," says Natasha Pickowicz, professional pastry chef and author of More Than Cake."That being said, always ask for help. Don't insist on doing everything yourself."

2. Pick Your Location

The point of a bake sale is to raise money for your cause, so you'll want to hold it in a place that gets plenty of traffic. Many baking fundraisers are held at the churches or schools organizing the event, but other locations work, too. "Look around your community and review the connections and resources that you already have," says Pickowicz. "Maybe there's a new wine shop with a little patio that doesn't get used that could offer their space, or a community garden that you can reserve for free." Often local and independent stores are open to hosting, as it gives them extra exposure.

3. Set a Date

Of course, you'll need to select a date and time for your sale. Choose a day that works for you and your volunteers, but also consider when members of your community will be available. "My ideal bake sale happens on the weekend, in the middle of the day, and is outside—which makes it kid friendly and dog friendly—and people come with empty bellies ready to snack on treats," Pickowicz says.

4. Advertise Your Sale

Garner more customers by advertising your sale. There are plenty of ways to spread the word, so feel free to choose a method that works best for you. One effective and affordable way to advertise is by utilizing social media. Tease offerings you plan to sell, spotlight the bakers, and ask friends and local businesses to advertise your sale on their platforms, as well. "I'm also a big fan of analog grassroots media—print out the poster you designed and hang it up at local shops, libraries, grocery stores, and cafes," says Pickowicz.

5. Start Baking

Now it's time for the fun part: baking! Keep the day of your sale low-stress by trying to get the majority of your baking done ahead of time. In order to avoid duplicates, start a spreadsheet and ask volunteers to input what they plan to bake. As a general rule, make 15 to 30 of each kind of dessert.

Offer a Variety of Desserts

While you should opt for baking a treat that's already in your wheelhouse, it's also important to include a variety. "The presentation will look extra dynamic if you have a wide variety of pastries on hand— think sheet cakes, brioche buns, pudding in small jars, giant marshmallows, fruit tarts, and loaf cakes from all cultures and backgrounds," Pickowicz says. "The more the baked goods feel diverse and fun, the more the display will pop out to your shoppers."

Consider Dietary Restrictions

Don't forget to provide a few options that cater to possible dietary restrictions. Offering one or two vegan or allergen-friendly desserts is a thoughtful way to ensure everyone can purchase a treat.

6. Decide What Payment Methods You'll Accept

Will you be cash only or will you also take credit cards? This is something you should think about ahead of time. For cash, you'll need a money box to store the money in. For credit cards, you'll need some way to swipe the plastic. Alternatively, digital wallets like CashApp or Venmo are an efficient way to collect money from your sales.

7. Set Up Your Bake Sale

Draw people in by creating an eye-catching display. "Ask the participating bakers to bring their own favorite décor to jazz up their table—think fluffy flowers in vases, cake stands, and pretty linens and lace," says Pickowicz. It's also a nice touch to have a menu of your offerings for customers, as well as individual signage for each baked good. If you have extra room in your budget, offer water and coffee to passers-by, too.

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