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Profitable Charity Fundraiser - The Cake Sale . Raise loads of cash, and have fun!

Updated on December 3, 2010

Everybody loves cake - right?

So you've decided you want to raise some money for a charity, maybe in memory of a loved one or perhaps for your kids school. Whatever the reason, you're clearly doing it because you care and so you want to make as much as you can! I've been raising money for various charities over the past few years and my favourite (and easiest in my opinion) way to raise lots of cash, fast, is the good old fashioned cake sale. Everybody loves cake - don't they?! In this article I run through my top tips for making loads of cash for charity in a really short space of time by selling cake. Of course it helps if you can bake, but if you're not already at some level of proficiency with baking then you probably won't have been hooked by this article.

Experiment with colour, sprinkles and readymade decorations.
Experiment with colour, sprinkles and readymade decorations. | Source

The Four W's - WHO are you targeting? WHAT will you be selling? WHEN & WHERE will the cake sale be held?

WHO will be the key purchasers of your cake? If your cake sale is aimed at children then you will need to plan your menu according to what appeals to them. And vice versa of course, are you targeting your office at work, a car boot sale, or maybe even a firestation full of burly, hungry men (hmm food for though hey).

So, once you've decided who you are targeting you need to decide WHAT to bake. This is my favourite part and I try to have a theme for each of my cake sales (see below). It spices things up a little, catches peoples interest and best of all, you can have a little fun with the menu!

Children

As a general rule, children won't have a lot of cash to splash out on a cake, and, chances are that if you're selling cake to children, there're also a dozen or so other stalls selling awful prizes and sweets which will be calling loudly to the money burning a hole in their pockets. So keep it simple and small but colourful and you can't go far wrong. Cupcakes, krispy cakes, cupcakes, funky biscuits, cupcakes.......you see what I'm saying. While you can't ask much for these cakes, they also don't cost a lot to make and are relatively quick to put together. For those of you who may cringe at the thought of baking - the humble krispy cake doesn't even need to be cooked!

Grown Ups

I have found without fail, the coffee & walnut cake and the chocolate cake are the first to be sold out. Every time! Grown ups tend to prefer cake over small biscuity type treats. I always try to put out a few cupcakes though - try to trigger a twinge of guilt that the kids are missing out....

Try to get volunteers to bake their signature recipe - that way everyone is cooking something they are comfortable with and the cakes will probably taste amazing!

WHERE are you holding the cake sale? This could limit the amount you can sell or what type of cake you can sell. A small office with a limited number of staff will obviously need less cake than a large office with hundreds of staff. Consider the environment - will it be hot (melting sticky mess) or will it be outside and windy (chaos). Is the cake sale part of another event? You may have to increase your advertising - make your stand look the most appealing.

WHEN are you holding the cake sale - have you tried to match it to a significant date? For example I once held a cake sale in aid of Help for Heroes on Remembrance Day - I had a queue within 5 minutes and nothing but crumbs 2 hours after setting up! Not only can you target your audience by holding your cake sale on a significant date, but you can take advantage of possible related themes (see below) AND you have the added bonus that this date is already in people's minds - creating a link to your cake sale will be that much easier.

The Innocent Big Knit Campaign - raise money for Help the Aged & Age Concern. No cakes involved but it's for a good cause!

Add a theme - it's easy!

As I said before - I love to theme my cake sales, it also makes it easier to decide on a date. I have listed my top 5 themed cake sales with some examples of the cakes and biscuits I sold at them:

Valentine's Day

  • Chocolate chip nookies
  • Lusty lemon cake
  • Victorias secret sponge
  • Sweet hearts
  • Queen of hearts jam tarts

Harvest Cake Sale

  • Carrot cake
  • Maple and parsnip cake
  • Fruit cake
  • Ginger Cake
  • Choc chip & walnut cookies

Halloween Cake Sale

  • Monstrous cupcakes
  • Malloween ghosts
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Devils food cake

Easter Cake Sale

  • Simnel cake
  • Chocolate nests
  • Meringue nests
  • Eggstra chocolatey chocolate cake

Christmas Cake Sale

  • Mince pies (of course)
  • Snowcakes
  • Xmas pudding cupcakes
  • Spiced biscuits

I always try to include a gluten free recipe - mine is always brownies as they use plain flour anyway so the gluten free flour doesn't mess up the recipe so much. Flapjacks can also be good for this - but remember if you do advertise as gluten free - it really has to be.

But most important is - HAVE FUN! Be adventurous and play with the theme a little, you, and everyone else will get so much more out of the cake sale - especially your charity!!  Some other ideas are: bonfire night, Alice in Wonderlands tea party, Wimbledon - cream tea, Crufts, a cartoon character.....the possibilities are endless.

A good cake recipe book is an investment!

Maximise your profit!

There are a few key tricks I employ when holding my cake sales, which I am convinced, are what makes the extra cash flow in (apart from my exceedingly good baking of course ;-).

  1. Advertise. Advertise. Advertise. Put up posters EVERYWHERE and start doing so at least a week or two before the event. Remind people the day before, they'll forget to bring cash and an empty lunchbox otherwise!
  2. Don't set prices - rely on people's consciences. I always put out the "bucket of honesty", it works a treat. Make sure there's change in it, but when people look at you puzzled and asking how much the cake is - simply say "it's as much as your conscience thinks it's worth". Most (not all) people will throw up to a pound more than I would have asked for. For 100 pieces of cake - that's £100 more!
  3. Provide napkins - people won't want to take cake away that's going to make a mess - and invariably it will. I also provide some handy sealable bags which are - just by chance - perfect for taking away a few pieces of cake. Someone comes for one piece of cake - can't decide - and voila, they can take a selection away AND do a good deed.
  4. Do some checking before you organise the cake sale, make sure that there will be people around on the day and not set it all up to find out the whole section is at an all day meeting.
  5. Make it look good - plan this ahead a little and bring in plates, trays, labels.... You wouldn't pay more at a restaurant for food on dirty broken crockery and the same counts for cake - even (especially) if it is a charity cake sale.
  6. Bring a knife (or a few!) and cut up ALL the cakes BEFORE the sale starts - cut the cakes into even portions and you'll get more money and less wastage from people breaking the cakes.

Good luck and happy fundraising!

So what's left to say except - GOOD LUCK! Have fun and make loads of money for your chosen charity. Come back and let me know if I helped at all - tell me how much you raised :-) and who for.  Maybe even post a picture of all the cakes!

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