Top tips for hosting a charity bake sale

Think about time and location 

Pick a high-traffic location and a busy time of day – a Saturday afternoon bake sale on bustling high street will obviously have more visitors than one hosted on a quiet Tuesday morning. If possible, try to schedule you bake sale during another big event, like a parade, church fete or school sports day, so you know you’ll have lots of guaranteed traffic.

Recruit early

Not everyone likes to bake but almost everyone knows someone who does. Ask your mates to help out not just by providing items to sell but also by spreading the word and enlisting their more culinarily competent friends and family.

Make posters and flyers

As well as advertising your event on Facebook and Twitter, go the old fashioned route and stick up some posters too. Leave flyers in cafes and shops near to your bake sale location and hopefully you’ll drum up some extra customers on the day. Click here to download a free JustGiving poster template.

Package to sell

In the age of Instagram and Pinterest presentation is everything. We’re not saying your bake sale needs to look like a photoshoot for a Sunday magazine but a little bit of decoration goes a really long way. Ask your volunteers to bring their cakes pre-packaged in pretty bags and boxes. It saves time, keeps things hygienic and makes your whole operation look more professional and appealing.

Establish your pricing system (or just forget it altogether...)

You need to make things as easy as possible for the customer so work out your prices beforehand and make sure that all your cakes are clearly labelled. Settle on three or four price points (such as £1, £3, £5 and £10) and ask all your bakers to package their offerings based on those prices. 

Alternatively, you could forget pricing altogether and instead ask your customers to donate what they think each cake is worth. It might feel a bit risky but you’d be amazed how generous people can be when the decision is left up to their own conscience...

Think big

No bake sale would be complete without a selection of the classics – the brownies, cupcakes and (everyone’s secret favourite) the cornflake cake - but why not encourage people to bring some bigger-ticket items too? A big cake or pie will add some variety to your table, is easier to package up and will sell for a lot more money too.

And small

You know how supermarkets put lots of little snacks by the checkout in the hope of tempting shoppers into one final last-minute purchase? Cunning isn’t it... But why not take a leaf out of their book and leave paper cones of caramel corn or small bags of sweets displayed on your cashier’s table? Price them appropriately low and watch them disappear in record time...

Have a donation jar at the till

Make sure you give your customers every possible opportunity to hand over some extra money by having a donation jar (and a JustTextGiving code!) displayed at your cash register. Talk to your customers about the cause you’re raising money for and you may well find they stick their change in the pot rather than back into their pocket.

Don’t forget the Vegans

Animal lovers like cake too so don’t forget to include some vegan treats for your dairy-free customers. They may have willpower regarding animal products but nobody has willpower regarding vegan chocolate cake. 

Be inventive

Just because it’s technically a bake sale doesn’t mean you can’t sell a few unusual items. Why not ask some of your volunteers to bake some bread or pies, or sell decorated jars of make-your-own-cookie mix so that customers can do their own baking at home?

Ask local businesses to participate

Ask around at bakeries and coffee shops in your local area to see if anyone would like to donate some stock. It’s always best to have too much rather than too little and you can donate any leftovers to charity or to your hungry volunteers.

Ask for matching funds

If there are people or companies in your community who can afford it, ask them if they’ll match the funds you raise. Publicise your total once the bake sale is over - if you’re a little short of your fundraising target, you never know who might step in to help you out...

Boost sales with bonus items

Once you know what cakes and baked items you’ll have for sale on the day think about what else you might be able to sell to boost your fundraising total. Could you provide tea and coffee, or even put together a little recipe book featuring contributions from all your volunteers?

Donate your leftovers

We’re sure you’ll have an empty table with very little to pack up at the end the day - but just in case you have a few bits left over, make sure you’ve researched beforehand to find a local donation centre where you can drop off any remaining treats.

Finally, add your offline donations to your JustGiving page

With a traditional bake sale the chances are you’ll have received most of your money offline rather than via your JustGiving page. Once the sale is over you’ll need to add those offline donations to your page so that everyone can see how much you managed to raise. Remember to share your page once you’ve done this to thank everyone for their support and possibly gain some final, last-minute donations.

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