January 14, 2010

How To Put Together A Bake Sale FAST

by IsaChandra

Some bake sales take months of planning and lots of conference calls and committees and red tape. Well, forget the red tape, we want red velvet! When you need to put together a bake sale fast there’s no other way to do it then just to do it. Sadly in the past few years there have been so many tragedies that called for immediate action. Katrina and the Tsunami both come to mind. And now Haiti.

There are lots of other ways to raise fund and volunteers, but a bake sale has the added benefit of giving us a feeling of community and relieving us of some of the despair we might feel. Falling into a depression helps no one, and even if it seems like our 25 dollars or 250 dollars or 2500 dollars isn’t enough, every bit counts. And you can’t put a price on mental health. Keeping spirits up and letting people know that we care is priceless.

If you don’t already have a group of bake sale ninjas waiting in the wings, ready to spring at any given moment, then the best place to start is the internet. Put a call out on local message boards, facebook and twitter. Email all your friends and family. Even if they aren’t vegan, have ready some vegan recipes for them and help them along the way. It’s for a great cause, hopefully they will be receptive to it. Get a little group of people together to get things started. Once that’s in place, delegate the next steps.

Location: It might be hard to procure a location last minute – especially one that will let you have the bake sale free of charge. But once they know that it’s for a good cause, some places that might be open to it are churches, temples, community centers, libraries, and food co-ops. Public schools are a maybe, but usually there is a lot of bureaucracy that you would be best to avoid. You might also have luck with a local bar. Try not to pick a super sleazy one. A well lit, non-smoking bar that doesn’t have a lot of lushes hanging out 24/7 is a great place for a bakesale. Depending on state laws they will let the under 21 crowd in before 7pm or so, and they do appreciate the crowd a bake sale brings. Cause hey, beers and cupcakes go great together.

If it’s a nice day, you might also opt to have your bake sale outdoors. Again, it depends on the laws and how nice the cops will be. If it’s for a good cause, you probably won’t face harrassment, but use your best judgment. Pick a street with foot traffic where you won’t be to in the way. Maybe in front of a closed store or a school building? Don’t plop down in front of a business unless they’ve said it’s ok. Outside a public park that gets a lot visitors is also a great place.

What to serve: Make everything vegan of course! Make sure nothing is store bought. Cakes, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, sandwich cookies, rice krispie treats, whoopie pies…these are always the first to go. Quick breads and muffins seem like big winners but unless they are covered in chocolate they always seem to be left to the end. Cookies are great to sell in bulk if you’ve got a lot of little ones. Make deals like 7 cookies for 5 dollars, or a dollar each. That way they’ll spend the extra bucks to get 2 “free” cookies. Have cute plastic bags to pack them in. Savory items like tamales or samosas can be a nice surprise. I’ll be putting up a few Bake Sale Greatest Hits recipes in a bit.

How to serve: It’s great if people bring their baked goods already plastic wrapped, but it’s fine if they don’t. The organizers should bring lots of plates and platters to display the baked goods beautifully. Here’s a great tip: Have tiered displays to lead the eye. An interesting display means you’ll bring in more bucks. Have cake stands or organizing trays to create different heights. If you don’t have cake stands, great creative. Place a bowl upside down and a plate on top of that.

Keep things sanitary by using tongs and wax paper to grab the goods. Have napkins available, and plastic bags so that people can take home a lot. Have pie slicers and spatulas as needed. Hopefully participants will bring these things, but as an organizer it’s a good idea to provide them just in case.

Ask people to bring an ingredients list for their goods, but no biggie if they don’t. Bring scrap paper and colored markers to make cute signs.  Fashion them together with tape and toothpicks. Table cloths are great if the tables you’re using aren’t the most beautiful.

Have some forks and to go containers in case people want to buy a lot of stuff, and many people are willing to spend 20 bucks if you give them the means to get it all home.

How to get people there: Flier the neighborhood! Use community boards, telephone polls (if it’s not a big legal issue), hand fliers out to people face to face. If you’re doing handouts then print out four fliers on one sheet of paper then cut them (to conserve paper). Contact your local paper and local news, let them know about the event. There is probably a local blog in your area, contact them, too. Hey, contact the mayor’s office and let them know. You never know who will show up! If you can direct them to a blog with more info then that would be awesome. Make sure to create a Facebook page and annoy everyone with invites.

This is what I can think of off the top of my head. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask and if you have anything to add, please chime in! I’ll update this as ideas are added.

  • January 14, 2010 at 9:45 pm: Josiane

    Thank you for this very useful post! There has never been a vegan bake sale in my area, and I have a feeling that one day I’ll end up organising one. When that day comes, it’ll be awesome to be able to refer to this post to make sure I’m not forgetting anything. :)

  • January 15, 2010 at 1:31 am: Gary

    This is a geat collection of tips! I’m going to link to it from our Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale page vegan bake sale tips. Speaking of which, here’s the link: http://www.veganbakesale.org/veganbakesale/vbs-links-bake-sale-tips.html. It has links to several bake sale tip pages, followed by tips we’ve put together. Granted, some of the tips are N/A for last minute bake sales.

  • January 15, 2010 at 2:56 pm: Christina

    Awesome. Thanks for the great info! Any tips on how much you need to have a successful sale? Like ___ cupcakes, ____ cookies, ____ larger items like pies, cakes?

  • January 15, 2010 at 3:15 pm: IsaChandra

    Christina, that really varies. I’ve been to small bake sales where there are only 100 items and I’ve been to large ones with thousands. I think it’s a good idea to keep things varied, and of course have as much as you can! Make sure if you are serving pie that you have a pie server and plates and forks.

  • January 15, 2010 at 4:52 pm: laura

    Awesome tips! I’m passing this on.

    I want to emphasize that to-go boxes are SOOOO IMPORTANT. It’s the difference between someone spending $5 and $40. If you have these boxes ready to go, people just want to fill them up. They’re available at restaurant supply stores and if you know someone who doesn’t want to bake but has money to burn, this is a great way for them to help out. if you need to get creative about procuring them and you’re near a Whole Foods hot food bar, that’s ALL I’M SAYIN. Also, I never said that.

    Agreed that blogs are a great way to get the word out! Don’t just reach out to vegan blogs. If you have well read city blogs (like in SF we have SFist, EaterSF, etc), let them know! Thousands of people read those blogs and it will get people to your sale. I love the mayor’s office idea! I believe that someone who did a sale in LA actually worked in city hall and that’s where they had it!

    If people want to find out about permitting. In San Francisco, you’re allowed to have one time bakesales without permits. You can contact city hall to find out what the laws are in your city if you’re curious.

    Oh and one other thing! Keep the sales going! We started after the World Wide Vegan Bakesale here in San Francisco and just kept doing them! All it takes is a couple people and a few emails to build a bakesale army. It’s so easy, fun, and feels awesome! We’re holding bi-monthly sales and having a great time doing it!

  • January 16, 2010 at 5:27 am: IsaChandra

    Thanks for the tips, Laura!

  • January 18, 2010 at 3:52 pm: ceejay

    I was going to organize a bake sale for the worldwide vegan bake sale last year, but then I made the mistake of looking up city rules to see if I needed a permit to set up in a public area, and discovered that it’s illegal to sell or distribute food to the public in Minneapolis that isn’t made in a professional kitchen, even for a fundraiser. I’m sure people ignore this law all the time, but once I knew it, I decided I’d be too paranoid to do it. Plus I have the sort of luck where I get tickets for the tiniest of traffic infractions, so I figure that probably extends to other legal matters as well.

    My advice? Don’t look up the rules in your area!

  • January 18, 2010 at 9:12 pm: Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone

    Shared on Twitter.

  • January 19, 2010 at 8:08 am: Pratima

    Hi Everyone! I’m holding my own one woman vegan bake sale at my workplace. I’m an RN at a busy clinic with a large staff. For three days this week I’m bringing in a different home baked treat and leaving out a jar for donations. So far it’s been quite successful. At the end of the week the money will be donated to Partners in Health. The tips on this website have been very helpful. Thanks!

  • January 19, 2010 at 1:15 pm: Gary

    Let me add this one consideration … Although there’s nothing like homemade vegan baked goods, prepared with love, you may also want to consider getting local bakeries involved:

    – It’s a form of community outreach. You can forge a relationship with a local business, and your fliers can say something like “Featuring homemade goodies as well as specialty items from Amanda’s Bakery”

    – The bakery may help promote the event.

    – If you’re running low on the desired amount of baked goods, working out a deal with a local bakery so they donate items or sell them to you cheaply can save the bake sale.

    – If the bakery is top-notch, the items will look and taste great, and have a professional touch. (Of course, if the bakery is not top-notch, you probably wouldn’t be dealing with it.)

    – If the bakery is not vegan, this is a form of vegan outreach. A really good non-vegan baker should be able to do a superb job of vegan baked goods. (We all know there’s nothing inherently difficult about vegan baking.) Feel free to mention (or casually have a copy of) VCTOtW and other resources.

    – If your area has strict regulations on bake sales, e,g. baked goods have to be prepared in a commercial kitchen, items from local bakeries start to look like a very attractive option. (Double-check to make sure that the regulations are truly that strict for bake sales; sometimes you get conflicting info from officials.)

  • January 19, 2010 at 1:25 pm: Gary

    ceejay: Here are some ideas. Granted, you may have already considered them.

    – Double check with local health department officials. Sometimes there are workarounds that they know about. You may even want to check with more than one person; we’ve gotten conflicting answers from different officials.

    – Check with groups that have done bake sales in Minneapolis recently. True, maybe they ignored the regulations, but maybe they did the groundwork and found out you can get an excemption or one-time permit or something.

    – Consider having the bake sale in a nearby suburb or town if their bakes rules are mroe relaxed (more progressive!).

    – Consider working out deals with local commercial bakeries (see previous comment).

    – If another group wants to be in charge of the bake sale, you can join up with them. In this case, that works out great, since the Animal Rights Coalition is holding a Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti (http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=292969139224&ref=mf) (which I’m sure you know about!)

    Hope this helps.

  • January 21, 2010 at 4:45 pm: mollyjade

    Ceejay, I bet they way bake sales get around this in your area is by asking for donations. In other words, free cupcakes with a suggested donation of $3.

  • January 27, 2010 at 8:04 pm: Elaine Vigneault

    At our bake sale, instead of labeling items with a price, we simply told people

    “One or two dollars is the suggested donation. It’s all going to a good cause so whatever you can give will be appreciated.”

    I can’t be certain, but I get the feeling it solicited more donations than if we’d set fixed prices. It reminded people that we were selling food for a cause, not just selling food, and it made them feel more generous.

  • July 5, 2010 at 9:32 pm: bobby

    great tips but make sure you have enough goods to hold the sale

  • July 5, 2010 at 9:33 pm: bobby

    looooooooooooovvvvvvvvvvvvvveeeeeeeeeeeeee bake saleing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • February 26, 2011 at 11:03 am: Cat

    Can I put in a plea for “have some gluten free items that are clearly labelled as such”? This probably applies to other dietary needs too.

    I’m about to go vegan for Lent, and maybe extend that into something longer term, but I’m coeliac, so so much vegan stuff seems to rely on gluten. I’ve eaten wonderful gf vegan baked goods (my wedding cake was both) so I know they’re possible to make, but it’s so off-putting when I’ve come across vegan bake sales and there’s been nothing gf.

    If you’re worried about making people ill because of not using a dedicated gf kitchen, just label stuff: “gluten free ingredients, not made on dedicated gf equipment” and people can make their own minds up.

  • September 29, 2011 at 8:30 pm: Bridget

    Hey, don’t use plastic unless you have to! A vegan bake sale should endeavour to be as environmentally conscious as possible on all sides – try to use recycled paper bags & wrapping instead of plastic. I would offer folks a 20c discount or something if they bring their own carry bags.

  • January 11, 2012 at 8:29 pm: Mickles

    Any charity suggestions?
    I’m thinking of organising on here in the UK in a local bar with some local bands playing in the eve… after an all day/eve bake sale!! Very excited, and possibly calling it VegStock! haha Shame we can’t make any soup… haha

  • February 23, 2012 at 4:20 am: Jaime

    For charities to give to, the list never ends! The two main ones I’ll be looking towards in the coming months are Love146 and the American Cancer Society (since I’ll be participating in Relay for Life). Love 146 is an amazing anti-trafficking group all over the world, raising awareness, money, and even prayers for enslaved girls, boys, men, and women all over the world. They also take care of lots of freed slaves. This would be a great cause because you’d be surprised at how unaware folks are when it comes to sex trafficking. It’s not just Asia and Africa! This goes on in America! Abolition is always something people are willing to buy cookies for, I’d say.

  • July 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm: grace

    what the hell somany fords i codent read it

  • August 12, 2012 at 12:07 am: hanna

    i have trouble pricing the goods. could you give my some suggestions? i am 11 and i love to bake plus i want to raise money for diabetes.

  • September 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm: Heidi

    These are perfect ideas! Thanks

  • April 16, 2014 at 6:54 pm: Emma

    I helped host a bake sale recently for the annual fundraiser walk several of us do do for our local animal shelter. Biggest hit of the event? The chocolate-cherry mini-cakes. And the best part? NOBODY KNEW THEY WERE VEGAN UNTIL THEY WERE ADDICTED! :D (The other best part is that they were by far the most expensive item.)

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