How to Plan Your Own Bake Sale

Running a bake sale in your own city is a great way to raise funds, spread awareness, and connect with your local community. Please feel free to use our bake sale as inspiration to plan an event in your own city.

If you have questions, or if you need help, please feel free to reach out to us via email.

How Does a Donation Based Bake Sale Work?

It’s really up to you, but here are a few key guidelines that we believe work really well.

  • Citywide Charity Bake Sale: We love the concept of holding multiple sales across an entire town or city for a few reasons. First, this makes the sale accessible to a larger audience and a more diverse community. It also helps to connect folks from different communities within a single town or city. Plus, having multiple sale locations increases our ability to raise funds and awareness since the event is seen by a larger number of people.
  • Donation Based Sale: Instead of putting prices on sale items, we’ve found that letting shoppers choose their own donation amount leads to happier supporters and bigger donation totals. Some people will donate very little while others will donate a lot – so it has a way of evening out.
  • Food Safety: Most health departments require bake sale goods to be either non-perishable or at least not prone to spoil quickly. Items like muffins or cookies are perfect. Items that require refrigeration or include fragile ingredients like cream cheese frosting or egg custard are not the best choices.
  • Packaging & Labeling: Health departments usually also require products to be fully packaged and do not allow packages to be divided for sale. Cookies, for example, must be packaged individually to be sold individually. It’s also important to label everything clearly so people know what they are buying – ESPECIALLY if the product includes potential allergens such as peanuts, eggs, or soy.
  • Transparency: Since we’re not an official organization or non-profit it is really important to be honest and open about who we are, what we do, and where the money we raise is going. We suggest documenting and sharing this info as much as possible.

How to Plan Your Bake Sale

Step One

  1. Gather your troops. This is not the kind of thing a person can pull off alone. Reach out to your friends, family, and community members for help organize, promote, and run your sale. Once you have a good sized crew (at least three or four equal partners) you should be able to move forward. Hammer out responsibilities as soon as possible to make sure your team works smoothly. In the past we’ve found it helpful to break up the work in the following way:
    – Bake Sale Admin: There must be at least one person (this can totally be a co-captain situation if you prefer) with which the buck stops. This person oversees all the operations of the sale to make sure everyone remains on top of their tasks. This person will also act as the point of contact for the sale’s beneficiary, and pick up any odd tasks that aren’t being tackled by other members of the team.
    – Volunteer Team Leader: This person will be in charge of communicating to all of the volunteers and bakers. They will be the keeper of the emails, the assigner of duties, and the person who makes sure each sale location has enough bakers and volunteers to be successful. They’ll also direct volunteers who sign up for the marketing committee to the marketing manager.
    – Venue Liaison: This person reaches out to venues so that you will have sale locations. It’s their job to secure the venues, and keep in touch with the owners or managers of these places to make sure everything runs smoothly. They will also be in charge of helping each venue promote the sale on their own channels.
    – Marketing Manager: This person creates, maintains, and moderates all of your social media channels, writes press releases and reaches out to local blogs, news outlets, and influencers to help spread the word about your sale. They will also lead any volunteers who sign up for the marketing committee.
     Cash Handler / Money Runner:  It’s a good idea to keep the cash on hand at each sale table to a minimum. Pick one person from your core team of organizers to act as the money person on the day of the sale. They will spend the day driving from location to location picking up cash and delivering it to a safe (and secret) location where it will be counted up and kept safe until it hits the bank.
    – Sponsor Hunter: This person reaches out to local companies and businesses that have shown interest in your cause. They will be asking for support in any way that can be offered – from providing a venue, to donating goods to sell, offering up supplies or signage, and/or providing cross promotion.
    – Collaboration Hunter: Are there other organizations or groups in your community that would be interested in what you are doing? Reach out to these people and let them know what you have planned. Talk to them about ways you can work together to make the sale a success – not just for the beneficiary you have picked, but also for the local group you’d like to work with.
  2. Pick a beneficiary. To keep things simple and honest, it is best to donate 100% of the proceeds from your sale directly to your chosen charity organization. Make sure to pick a reputable organization with a trusted track record of service. For example, we love working with Americares. Once you pick your beneficiary, contact them directly to find out how best to collect funds and make your donation.
  3. Pick a date for your sale. Weekends work best and we’ve found sales that start around 10am and last into the afternoon do quite well.

Step Two (2-3 Weeks before the sale)

  1. Team Check-In (Admin) Does anyone need help? Check in with the team to re-organize tasks as needed.
  2. Create an online donation page (Bake Sale Admin). Create a donation page either directly on the beneficiary’s site or on a giving site such as ____ or ____. This allows bake sale shoppers and supporters to make their donations online and provides transparency for handling your funds. Cash donations need to be collected at the bake sale site, counted, and transferred to a cashier’s check made out directly to the charity as soon as possible after the sale is finished.
  3. Create a Facebook Page for your event (Marketing Manager). This page can serve as your base of public operations. It’s easier and less expensive e than setting up a whole website, and you can easily share the work of posting and moderating on the page with your fellow organizers. Be sure to list the date of your event, link to your online donation page, and include a good description with details on the purpose and beneficiary of your sale.
  4. Create a Facebook Event (Marketing Manager). Use your Facebook page to create an event for the sale. Include the same info you put on the Facebook page.
  5. Create a Sign-Up form for bakers and volunteers (Volunteer Leader). Use an app like Google Forms or Survey Monkey to collect sign up information from people interested in baking for your sale or volunteering.
  6. Court Sponsors (Sponsor Hunter). It’s a tough job, but a worthwhile one! Reach out to businesses that have shown an interest in supporting your cause and/or have supported similar projects and events. The earlier you approach sponsors the better as coordinating their support can take time.
  7. Court Collaborators (Collaboration Hunter). Now is a good time to start looking for groups to work together with. Brainstorm ideas for cross-promotion or ways to get their group involved in the project.
  8. Gather Bakers and Volunteers (Volunteer Leader). Now it’s time to start sharing your page, event, and sign-up form like crazy. Reach out to everyone you know and ask them to reach out to everyone they know. It takes a huge amount of reach to get enough bakers and venues for a successful sale. Being shameless in your promotion efforts at this point really pays off later.
  9. Secure Venues (Venue Liaison). Now is the time to start looking for venues. Make sure to get permission before parking a sale table in any public place or in front of a business. Reach out to businesses that have good foot traffic, great social media reach, and have displayed an interest in supporting your cause.
  10. Announce Locations / Begin Promo (Marketing Manager). Once venues are secured you can start announcing locations for the sale and pushing promotions. Reach out to every local newspaper, every local radio and tv station, every blog, every hot social media channel – just go bonkers. Writing a press release is really helpful, as is establishing a good social media presence. Make use of your volunteers by asking them to help you promote and share, share, share.

Step Three (1-2 Weeks Before Sale)

  1. Team Check-In (Admin) Does anyone need help? Check in with the team to re-organize tasks as needed.
  2. Organize Bakers and Volunteers (Volunteer Leader). Every sale location will need a Team Lead (this person stays all day, makes sure that the table stays manned at all times, cash is handled properly, etc.) This person will be the Volunteer Leader’s point of contact for the day of the sale since they can’t be everywhere at once! Communicate with all volunteers regularly in the days and weeks before the sale to make sure everyone knows where to be and when. We recommend emailing volunteers 2 weeks, 1 week, 3 days, and 1 day ahead of the sale.
  3. Continue Promo (Marketing Manager). This is a good time for a second round of promotions. Follow up on press releases previously sent out to see if outlets have questions or need interviews, photos, details, etc. Start a heavy social media campaign at this point and don’t let up. If possible, start putting up signs and flyers around town.
  4.  Check in With Venues, Sponsors and Collabs (Venue Liaison, Sponsor Hunter, Collab Hunter): Now is a good time to check in and make sure no-one has questions or is flaking out. You should also be sharing any marketing materials (printable flyers, digital media, etc. created by the marketing team) with venues, sponsors, and collabs so they can help promote.

1 Week Before Sale

  1. Team Check-In (Admin) Does anyone need help? Check in with the team to re-organize tasks as needed.
  2. Send out Reminders (EVERYBODY) Now is a good time to send reminders regarding date, time, locations, responsibilities, etc. to anyone who needs them.
  3. Continue Promo (Marketing Manager). Keep it up!

1-3 Days Before Sale

  1. Team Check-In (Admin) Does anyone need help? Check in with the team to re-organize tasks as needed.
  2. Baker Check-In (Volunteer Leader). Find out what your bakers are planning to make. Get photos, recipe links, or any details you can and pass it on to the marketing manager along with the baker’s social media handles or websites.
  3. Baker Features (Marketing Manager). Share teasers and previews of sale goodies while tagging and promoting people who are baking for the sale. This is a great time to call out sponsors and collabs too!

Day of the Sale

  1. Team Check-In (Admin) Does anyone need help? Check in with the team to re-organize tasks as needed.
  2. Venue Check-In (Venue Liaison) Act as a point of contact to mediate and resolve any issues between sales and venues throughout the day.
  3. Location Check-In (Volunteer Leader). Keep in contact with location leaders all day to make sure everything is running smoothly. Help out as needed.
  4. Share Sale Pics, Stats, and Stories (Marketing Manager). Use your marketing committee to get photos from different sale locations throughout the day. Assign volunteers to wave signs. Encourage everybody on the team to share and re-share. Communicate with the Money Handler to share updates on sale and online donation totals throughout the day.
  5. Run Money(Money Handler). Travel from location to location picking up cash collected by location leads. Deliver cash to secret counting location (Determined by core team members). Communicate totals throughout the day to Marketing Manager.

Day After the Sale

  1. Team Check-In (Admin) Does anyone need help? Check in with the team to re-organize tasks as needed.
  2. Announce Totals on Social Media. (Marketing Manager) Also call out sponsors and venues to say thanks.
  3. Send Cash Donation to Beneficiary (Money Handler or Admin) Take cash donations to the bank and transfer to cashier’s check. Take a photo of the check to share with team members, then mail or deliver the check immediately.
  4. Send Thank You Cards or Emails to Venues (Venue Liaison)
  5. Send Thank You Cards or Emails to Sponsors (Sponsor Liaison) 
  6. Send Thank You Cards or Emails to Collabs (Collab Liaison) 
  7. Send Thank You Emails to Volunteers and Bakers (Volunteer Leader) Be sure to include totals, call out location leads, and encourage folks to sign up for the newsletter to support future sales.

How to plan your own citywide charity bake sale - Austin Bakes