I’m super excited to be writing this blog post for Where Is My Teaspoon? Last week, I organised a Bake Sale at my work in an effort to do something positive before Christmas and to get all my work colleagues engaged in something creative, and hopefully to get chatting to someone they wouldn’t normally chat to at work.
The power of cake for social inclusion is something I’m very passionate about and just a huge believer in – I can’t tell you the amount of times I have brought a home baked cake somewhere and seen faces light up! To be able to apply that to a charity fundraiser is a no-brainer for me and something that can deliver incredible results if the right people get behind it. As we approach Christmas, it’s a helpful prompt for many of us to think about those who are marginalised or excluded from society. Our bake sale has created something big out of nothing and I’m so proud to say we have raised a healthy chunk of money for charity on the back of it. Not only has it helped social connections at work, the money raised will be put towards improving other peoples’ lives and offer a small bit of hope where it’s needed the most.
I had never planned a bake sale before and thought maybe some people reading this might be inspired to give it a go. With that in mind, I am going to share a few hints and tips I learned on this one which should hopefully help you too:
1. Make friends with the right people:
This is a good one! Everything starts with an idea no doubt, but just because you’ve had an idea, doesn’t necessarily make you the best person to run with it. You probably will need some help. For me, this was our HR manager and Marketing manager to get started. I bounced the idea off of them and they helped me structure it into a plan and then we acted on it. If you’re hosting one at work, you also need to get the Managing Director / Board’s approval maybe too so it’s worth double checking if you all the right people on board before you announce it.
2. Pick an appropriate time and give people notice:
While a Friday might seem like a great day to have a bake sale, you have to factor in that people actually will need time to bake. Maybe a Monday is a better shout as they can use the weekend to plan out their bake without last minute rushing to finish it.
I also found it was a good idea to give people about a month’s notice of the bake sale and send out reminders to keep people on board. Once people know the date of the sale, they are more likely to commit to baking and you’ll definitely need some bakers! I recommend you get at least 10 people to bake and remember, there’s always a chance that someone may be unable to bake on the day due to illness etc.
3. Get commitment:
A charity bake sale is for a serious cause and therefore is serious business! That means a spreadsheet is most likely needed to track how many bakers you have. It’s smart to ask each volunteer to say what they’re going to bake when they offer up their talents too. As much as we all love chocolate cake, having 20 of those and nothing else wouldn’t make for the best sale.
Start taking a list of bakes as soon as you announce your bake sale and remind people what they have committed to nearer the actual date. You’ll be surprised who offers to get involved – often it’s the people you would least expect.
4. Use an honesty box:
This really helped our bake sale. Instead of having a “shop keeper” sitting at the bake sale all day, we left out an honesty box and a price list. When people took a slice of cake or whatever, they simply popped in the required amount of money into the box. You can trust your own employees and colleagues (I hope!) and as it’s for charity, people should stick to it. We had no problem with this method but did take bigger cash notes out of the box at intervals just to keep things secure.
This method meant the sale could last the entire work day, rather than just having it for a couple of hours. In our business, people take their lunch breaks at various times so we didn’t want to miss anyone.
5. Be realistic in your pricing:
I definitely needed help here – honestly if it weren’t for a clever lady at work, I would have priced each slice of cake at a fiver! I now understand that would have been useless as people wouldn’t have paid it. We stuck to €3 for a slice of cake, €2 for a cookie/ bun/ mince pie and €20 for a whole cake. This worked really well, especially selling whole cakes. We had a huge uptake for this and it really added up in the honesty box too. One funny lady even bought 3 and was going to freeze them when she got home – genius coming up to Christmas with all her expected visitors!
6. Decorate the room:
Again, this is something I got a lot of help on! A lady at work is really talented at making crafts and made fantastic Christmas decorations out of old books for the sale (you should be able to spot them in the photographs). I dotted some Christmas baubles around, brought in a tea-cosy and we used Christmas napkins. This just made it look like more of an event and encouraged people to take photos and share them around. Decorating the honesty box with Christmas wrapping paper also helped draw people’s eyes to it.
Creating a bit of a walk way for people also helped. You don’t want to stick all the cakes on one table right beside the door. Spread out the cakes and encourage people into the room to make tea and spend some time together. The longer they are in the room, the more cakes they see and they more they eat!
7. Label the cakes:
As your friends have gone to such great efforts to bake for the sale, it’s nice to give them some credit. I printed off little Christmas themed labels using Word and wrote what each cake was and who baked it on each one. This also encourages people who tried the bakes to compliment the baker – praise does wonders for our confidence! Remember, half of this is about social inclusion so getting your colleagues chatting is important.
8. Encourage people to bring lunch boxes:
When you’re sending your last reminder about the bake sale, pop in a little note telling people to bring lunch boxes to bring cakes home to their families. Often people get put off buying things if they don’t have a method to bring it home. This will help you sell more cakes and is better for the environment than using lots of tinfoil and clingfilm.
9. Host more than one sale:
This is really the secret to our success. Instead of just hosting one bake sale, we did 6! Taking from point 1 above, if you get to know the right people and ask for help, anything can happen. We have many different businesses across our group in various locations. By asking for volunteers all over, we were able to spread the bake sale across multiple sites. We picked a lead volunteer in each place to champion the bake sale and mind the money. This allowed it to become a bit of a movement and something to be a part of on a slightly bigger scale. It also meant we raised way more money for our charity.
On the day after the bake sales, we created a photo collage of all the different sales and sent it around to the whole business. This gave a spotlight to each location and thanked them for their efforts.
10. Hold a raffle:
As shocking as it may seem, not everyone will care about the bake sale or believe in the power of cake. What they will believe in though, is winning something for themselves! Holding a raffle to support the bake sale will increase the money you collect and reach people who otherwise won’t get involved.
I sent raffle books to each of the 6 bake sale locations and asked them to sell tickets from December 3rd to December 18th. Tickets were sold as 1 line for €3 or 4 lines for €10. We offered a stay in a 5 star hotel as our main prize and got a great uptake. I promoted the raffle by sending out additional emails to the whole company, reminding them who they could buy tickets off and what the prizes were.
Anything you can do to push your efforts further is a good idea. It also keeps it going longer than the actual sale which means you have a much higher chance of raising more money.
I really hope these tips will get you thinking about hosting a charity bake sale where you work. You might hear things like “God, have you no work to be doing..” and such as I did, but don’t take any heed. Organising things like this is so important and does take some work, trust me! Honestly, it only takes one person to have an idea and about 20 others to help you, haha! I am so proud of our efforts and the good we have achieved together 🙂 🙂 Now, all I have to do is convince them to make it an annual thing 😉