Appleton, Wisconsn 2011 worldwide vegan bake sale

Bake Sale Tips

Here are lots of great tips to make your bake sale smooth, fun, and successful.

Bake Sale Tips from Us and Participants

FINDING AND SECURING A VENUE
  • Reserve your bake sale location early! Narrow down the possible sites, get on the phone or visit, get the permissions. Then the exciting and fun stuff can begin apace.
  • Possible locations include community centers, public squares, shopping centers, strip malls, pet supply stores, and theatres or sports arenas before or during an event. School groups and religious groups may want to hold the event in their respective schools and places of worship. Craft fairs and festivals are another possible place for a vegan bake sale, although you often have to register early.
  • Some open markets or farmers markets will let you hold a bake sale on or near the premises. Bureaucracy, fees, and requirements may vary widely. But you may get a ton of foot traffic in these locations.
  • Some food-coops will be amenable to a bake sale.
  • Do you work in a large office building or live in an apartment complex with lots of units? Check with the building manager to see if you can set up a bake sale in the lobby, or in front of the building or in the courtyard.
  • Art galleries and local performance halls may lend or rent you space for your bake sale.
  • Are you in a band or other performing group? You and/or your fans might be able to hold bake sales at your shows.
  • If proceeds from your bake sale will be going toward a local charity, you may want to find out if anyone at the charity knows where bake sales for the group have been held before. In many cases, the charity owns or is located in a building, and it might make sense to hold the bake sale there. For example, if the logistics work out, you could have a bake sale in front of the local animal shelter.
  • Some people have bake sales at their homes, or as part of a family lemonade stand in the neighborhood.
  • You could combine a vegan bake sale and yard sale. This could be on your lawn, or you could volunteer to hold a vegan bake sale at a neighbor's yard sale.
  • Peruse this year's schedule of participating bake sales, as well as past schedules (via the "Past Highlights" option on the main menu at left) for ideas on bake sale locations.
  • One way to get ideas for possible bake sale locations in your area is to enter the name of your community followed by "bake sale" (in quotes) in an online search engine. You may need to also enter a state or some other qualifier to narrow the search. Try "bakesale" as well.
  • Call your city's parks and recreation department (or the closest thing to that); ask them where you can hold a bake sale. They may be very helpful.
  • If your request to use a facility is denied, it may not hurt to ask the representative with whom you're talking for advice on alternate places.
  • If you reserved your spot well in advance, check back about three to four weeks before the event, to confirm.
  • It may take an hour or more to set up your bake sale, and nearly that long to pack up afterward. Factor this into the number of hours for which you reserve your spot.
  • Do you have a web site or blog? Consider a blog bake sale, in which a) people donate baked goods that they pledge to make and ship, b) people bid on the donated baked goods. Inquire for details or do an online search for “blog bake sale” or “blogger bake sale.” You can partner with other bloggers for a multi-blogger vegan bake sale. (Note: we now have an online section on the bake sale schedule page.)
FINDING BAKERS AND OTHER VOLUNTEERS
  • Use social media—web sites, blogs, Facebook pages and events, twitter, forums, email lists, etc.—to put out the call for bakers and volunteers.
  • Some groups display (online) who's bringing what so far, which may inspire others to bake for the event (or at least to show up and buy stuff).
  • Your fliers can include a url, email, and/or phone number for bakers and volunteers.
  • Many communities have online bulletin boards.
  • If your local paper has a section that lists upcoming nonprofit events, in your submission you can specify contact information for bakers and other volunteers.
  • Ask both vegan and non-vegan people you know who like to bake. Anyone who's a good baker is almost always a good vegan baker. (See "Bake Sales for Non-Bakers," below).
  • Contact local bakeries (See "Bake Sales for Non-Bakers," below).
  • Contact local vegan and animal rights groups. Offering to give some of the proceeds to the group may be an added motivator.
  • Contact local charities that you like and offer to donate a portion of the proceeds to the charity.
  • Team up with another group in your area. A vegan advocacy group could team up with an environmental, animal resuce, or church group. Split the tasks and the proceeds. Teaming up can be fun and fulfilling and help build cooperation and camaraderie.
  • Search online for recent bake sales in your area and get in touch with the groups that held them. Again, you may want to offer an inducement in the form of a share of the proceeds, assuming you're comfortable with the group's mission and tactics.
  • Browse past years' Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale schedules through the "Past Highlights" menu option at left to see if there are recent participants near you. Even if they're not organizing a bake sale this year, they be interested in helping yours.
  • If there are foodie or cooking meetups in your area, whether vegan or not, contact them to see if any members want to join up with your vegan bake sale.
  • Look for collaborators in "The Square" section of the Post Punk Kitchen forums. You need to register before you can post, but that's quick and painless.
  • Feel free to advertise your bake sale and issue a call-out for bakers on the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale Facebook wall.
  • Let us know, via info@veganbakesale.org, Facebook, or twitter, if you want us to tweet and mention in Facebook that you're looking for bakers. If there are a number of bake sales looking for bakers, we can also make a news blurb about it on the web site home page.
PROMOTING
  • To a large extent, use the same channels as for finding bakers: social media, fliers, word of mouth, and so forth.
  • It won't hurt to mention that your bake sale is part of the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale. Feel free to incorporate WVBS web banners on your online sites and printed materials.
  • Maybe the charity to which you're donating proceeds will help you promote. For example, you could help with copy for their online newsletter or give them some fliers.
DETERMINING AND COMPLYING WITH REGULATIONS
  • Go online and/or check with local officials about regulations in your area. For example, many jurisdictions require that everything sold at a bake sale be individually wrapped beforehand. In some European countries, you may need a permit from the health department to sell food at an event.
  • If the regulations for bake sales in your town seem too restrictive or confusing, it often helps to contact more than one official; the second person may give you information that the first person didn't know about or failed too mention. Don't hesitate to ask followup questions. Also consider checking one town over if it's nearby; it may have a more streamlined process. Another source of information is church or civic groups that recently held a bake sale in your area.
  • In some cases, there are fewer restrictions if you give food away and ask for donations, rather than sell the food outright. Ask officials in your area for details. (Also see how you might be able to get an event like this funded.)
  • You may find that restrictions are looser if you hold the bake sale in a private facility, such as an office building or church.
WHAT TO BAKE
  • You usually can't go wrong with the classics: brownies, cupcakes, muffins, and chocolate chip cookies. Cheesecakes and pies by the slice typically do well. If the bake sale starts in the morning, you may want to feature muffins, cinnamon rolls, and other "breakfasty" items.
  • Include at least one gluten-free offering.
  • Consider having at least one choice with no added sugar or sugar-like substance. Agave nectar or molasses may be acceptable in those cases.
  • Also consider having at least one soy-free option.
  • Some groups have had very good luck with one or more savory options on the table.
  • Participants generally report that cupcakes with frosting sell better than cupcakes without frosting. (However, you may want to re-label unfrosted cupcakes as muffins.)
  • Trying a new vegan baked good recipe and you're not sure if it's bake sale-worthy? One alternative: Have some skeptical but honest non-vegans give you feedback.
  • You may want to include some homemade vegan dog treats for your canine "customers."
  • Once you've got the basics covered, feel free to be creative; showcase your specialties.
  • Peruse our recipe links and highlights pages for inspiration.
COMMUNICATIONS
  • Some groups use shared Google Docs spreadsheets to list who's bringing what (e.g., baked goods and supplies).
  • Do you know how you would notify all volunteers (not to mention the public) if you had to re-schedule the bake sale at the last minute (e.g., due to inclement weather)?
  • Ask bakers to write their names inconspicuously on any containers or trays that they want back.
HOW MUCH BAKED GOODS DO YOU NEED?
  • This is a very rough estimate: Figure 50 servings sold per hour for a location with steady but not jam-packed foot traffic. Adjust up or down from there.
ADDITIONAL FUNDRAISING
  • If you're raising money for a charity, you can ask local businesses if they'd like to make matching pledges; i.e., donations that match whatever you give to the designated charity from your bake sale proceeds. Get a receipt from the charity when you give them the proceeds; you can present that to businesses that made pledges as proof of the donation to match. (Suggested by a 2009 participant)
  • Allow people to pre-order. You can publish a menu of pre-orderable items online.
BAKING
  • Use fresh ingredients. Don't use flour that's been sitting on the shelf for a year.
  • Aim for a super-clean environment when baking. You may not mind when your cat or dog joins you in the kitchen when cooking for yourself, but you and Spot or Tiger should not be in the kitchen at the same time when preparing for a bake sale. You absolutely cannot have one hair in your bake sale items. Double- and triple-check. Speaking of hair, consider using a hairnet. Go the whole nine yards.
  • Here's a handy tip from Liqin Cao of United Poultry Concerns: If making cheesecakes or pies, pour the filling into serving-sized mini-crusts instead of into one large crust. This saves you from having to cut the cheesecake or pie into individual slices. You could make your own mini-crusts, but for convenience it's hard to beat the Keebler “Ready Crust” mini graham cracker crusts, which are conveniently vegan. Make sure to reduce your baking time; for instance, mini-cheesecakes may be ready in 20 minutes or less. Bonus: for serving-sized cheesecakes, about halfway through the cooling period put a piece of fruit, such as a blueberry, raspberry, or a slice of strawberry, in the middle. Depress the fruit slightly, so it will stay.
  • For better or worse, shoppers buy partly on looks. In general, they prefer frosted rather than unfrosted cupcakes. Crumb toppings on a coffee cake or muffins will probably help them sell.
  • If at all possible, do a taste test before getting the dish ready to be transported to the bake sale. Even an experienced baker can accidentally leave out an ingredient.
STORING AND TRANSPORTING THE GOODS
  • Preferably before baking, make sure you have a) enough room in your refrigerator to store items that need to be kept cold, b) a way to transport your baked goods securely to the bake sale or drop-off location.
AT THE BAKE SALE
  • Remember to allow for an hour or more for setting up, and an hour for putting everything away and cleaning up after the bake sale.
  • Check with a knowledgable representative from the place where you're holding your bake sale, to make they're comfortable with where you're setting up.
  • Have a plate of samples for people to try.
  • Label everything clearly. Time-saver tip: You usually will know many of the goods to be sold before the day of the bake sale, so you can make labels for those items in advance.
  • Presentation counts. Attractive serving trays and artfully arranged items may help maintain customers' interest and generate sales. You can spruce up an ordinary platter by covering it with a fancy (but inexpensive) doily.
  • Some participants package their baked goods with colorful ribbons, as in this example, for a nice look.
  • A large colorful banner may help attract people to the table.
  • Placing signs in the vicinity may help direct people to the bake sale. Check with your hosts and/or local officials to make sure they are ok with you putting signs in the ground or on structures. An alternative is to have volunteers hold up signs. Simple signs with big letters (e.g., "Bake Sale" with an arrow pointing to the event) often work best.
  • If allowed, you can write “This way to the bake sale” and other directions in chalk on the nearby sidewalks. (Contributed by Dayna R)
  • Customers will appreciate sanitation precautions such as volunteers wearing plastic gloves and/or using tongs. In some cases, health codes may require these measures.
  • Periodically wipe off the bake sale table. Crumbs and other stuff may accumulate over time.
  • Bring a container of hand sanitizer (cruelty-free, please), discreetly placed away from the goodies.
  • For customers who exclaim, “Wow, this doesn't have eggs?” have a stack of our Baking Without Eggs fliers on the table.
  • You can print labels with your group name, logo, and/or web site, and add something like "cruelty-free," and put them on the wrappers and/or take-away boxes for your baked goods.
  • Here's an idea: Attach recipes to the items you're selling. For example, print the recipe on a piece of paper, punch a hole in the paper, and use a string or ribbon to attach the paper to the wrapping for the baked good. You can even print other things on the paper, such as quick facts about veganism and handy vegan baking web sites (including this one). (Thanks to the Vegan Society of Aotearoa, New Zealand for this tip.)
  • Offer bottled water or some other refreshing beverage. After a slice of chocolate cake, don't you want a drink to wash it down?
  • Bring some paper bags, perhaps small and medium size. Customers who buy lots of items or who already have their hands full will appreciate that. Other customers may also request a bag. Bonus: You can put your group's business card, or a flier of area veg-friendly restaurants, or another type of freebie in the bag.
  • Have napkins handy for customers.
  • If the bake sale is outside, prepare for wind. If you had, say, a 25 mile-an-hour breeze, what would blow away or fall down? Make sure structures and signs are secure and that lightweight objects such as napkins and fliers are weighted down.
  • Bring plenty of change. To make things easier, have all your prices end in .00 (or maybe .50). Also, you may want to, for example, sell plates of three small cookies for a dollar (or equivalent unit in your local currency) rather than sell each cookie individually.
  • This tip is from Isa Chandra Moskowitz, author of best-selling vegan cookbooks such as Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, and founder of the Post Punk Kitchen. If you have lots of small cookies, place as many as will fit comfortably into bags, package them cutely, and sell the bags of cookies for, say, $10. You could sell different sizes of “cookie bags” for different prices. Liberation BC has a similar technique, in which customers can fill up a bag with any baked goods they like for a set price.
  • In the unlikely event that you have a lot of unsold inventory and there's only a half hour left in the bake sale, you can mark items down and/or offer volume discounts.
  • Does your group have a mailing list, or membership application? Bring forms and pens so people can sign up.
  • Tape, scissors, rubber bands, construction paper, and magic markers come in handy in a myriad of ways.
  • You can purchase various sizes of "to-go" boxes in which to put merchanise that you sell to customers. This is one way to keep things like frosting from getting smashed. Shop around and look online; prices vary. You may need to buy in bulk. You can also save and wash the plastic "clamshell" containers in which salads are sold at grocery stores; thanks to Jamessina for this tip.
  • This isn't our tip, but it's worth repeating: Place a jar for donations on the table. Both purchasers and non-purchasers of baked goods may want donate money to help the cause.
  • Consider giving away a prize to one or more lucky customers, through a raffle or similar system. A vegan cookbook signed by the author makes a nice prize, but the possibilities are endless. You'll need to get entrants' contact info (email or phone number), and decide how to convey the prize to the winner. (Suggested by a 2009 participant)
  • If there's no seating in the vicinity, and you've got the space, bring a few chairs so customers who want to eat right away can sit down.
  • Ask visitors to your bake sale how they found out about the event. This may help your marketing in the future.
  • If possible, spare one or two people to be available to answer questions about eggs, dairy, vegan food, and related topics that frequently come up during vegan bake sales.
  • If you have enough personnel at the table, for maximum cleanliness designate one person to handle money and non-food items only.
  • This probably goes without saying, but...Customer service and politeness make a difference. Smile and say “thank you.” If you make a mistake, offer a sincere apology, and maybe throw in some free merchandise to help set things right.
TAKING PHOTOS AND VIDEOS
  • Take pictures of the action: people surveying the food; customers biting into cupcakes; volunteers serving slices of pie; crowds at the table; conversations off to the side. Give viewers of a sense of the excitement and community at the bake sale. You can ask people if they mind if their picture is taken, and let them know where they can find your online photo album.
  • Try to get some close-ups of ornately decorated, colorful, interestingly shaped, or intricately constructed items.
  • Get at least one shot of the table right at the start of the bake sale, when everything is set up beautifully.
  • By taking pictures throughout the bake sale, you'll get a good variety of people and (especially if outdoors) times of day in your photo collection.
  • If it's possible to get a group photo of everyone helping out, you and the other volunteers may treasure that picture for years.
  • The above tips apply to videos, too.
  • A video record of the bake sale can include pre- and and post-bake sale interviews, as well as interviews with tablers and customers during the event.
AFTER THE BAKE SALE
  • Be the most gracious, appreciative guests ever. Leave the place spic and span and you'll get invited back next year, or sooner.
  • If you have leftovers (and maybe even if you don't), maybe make a goodie bag for employees of the place where you're holding the bake sale. Another option, if you're at an event with exhibitors, is offering food to the staff at neighboring tables.
  • Don't forget to thank your hosts.
  • Thank your volunteers and bakers.

Links

The following sites have expert advice on choosing and securing a location, promoting the bake sale, attracting customers, creating a "can't miss" table of tasty selections, handling inclement weather, and generally planning, organizing, and profiting from the event.

Most of the recipes in these links aren't vegan. For those, please see our list of vegan recipe sites (with special links to desserts and breads).



Some people prefer BUY to DIY

Bake Sales for Non-Bakers

You don't have to a baker to have a bake sale! Here are a bunch of "bakeless" options:
  • Everyone has two friends who like to bake—even if they don't know it. If you ask friends, family members, co-workers, classmates, fellow soccer parents, the outfielders on your softball team (okay, maybe not them) to contribute to a bake sale, two of them will say, “Sure, I'll bake a batch of cookies." When you tell them it's a vegan bake sale, they might give you a quizzical look or say “no problem” depending on their familiarity with vegan baking. If it's the former, point them to our vegan baking tips and 1000+ vegan baking recipes pages, tell them it's easy, and they'll enjoy the simple challenge—and probably come up with something irresistably scrumptious.
  • Local bakeries will usually participate and give you a good deal. In return, you should probably display the bakery's card on your table or otherwise give them some publicity. Let them know that the bake sale is vegan. Some bakers will scoff (have a hardcopy of our "baking without eggs" sheet handy), but most will accommodate you or have a couple of items already that are vegan, even if they're a very non-vegan bakery.
  • Home-based baking and catering businesses may be eager to help as well, especially if they perceive the bake sale to be a good way for them to get positve publicity and potential customers.
  • Consider mixes. Goodbaker makes great cookie and brownie mixes for which you only have to add water. Put the mixture in a pan, bake it, and presto—you have a platter of delicious bake sale-ready desserts. Also check out mixes by Simply Organic, Dr. Oetker, and Cherrybrook Kitchen. In fact, it's easy to veganize most cookie, brownie, cake, and muffin mixes. Just use an egg substitute and nondairy milk. If someone asks for the recipe, it can be like in those TV commercials where they say, incredulously, “Really? This was from a mix?” For best results, try out the mix before using it in a bake sale. Some mixes you'll love; others...you won't love.
  • If the bake sale is a few weeks away...there's no time like the present to start learning the joy and satisfaction of vegan baking. Start with relatively straightforward and uncomplicated cookie and muffin recipes. In fact, first read a primer on baking, which is at the beginning of many vegan baking cookbooks. Take your time, follow the recipe carefully, and you may be pleasantly surprised at what you can do!
  • This tip was supplied to us from FARM: You can make a moist, good-tasting cake very simply using Duncan Hines cake mix (most varieties are vegan) and a can of soda, as detailed here. You may want to try a “practice run” before making it for the bake sale. To make the cake more presentable (and thus more sellable), apply an easy vegan frosting recipe or frosting mix to the cake after it's cooled.