Churches, schools and nonprofit organizations often hold bake sales to raise money for projects or causes. Volunteers contribute baked goods and sell them to family, friends and members of the public. Such a sale is a low-overhead, high-profit way to raise money quickly. Venues for bake sales include fairs and festivals, public venues such as grocery stores and malls, the parking lots of athletic events and anywhere that guarantees a steady flow of possibly hungry clients.
Any time you're selling food to the public you should practice good hygiene and food safety. Some foods hold up better at room temperature than others. For this reason, avoid selling cream pies, items with meringue frostings, cheesecakes and any other items that need to be refrigerated in order to inhibit the growth of bacteria. Distribute a list of suggested items to volunteers or have volunteers sign up ahead of time with a list of the items they intend to contribute. Label each item with the contributor's name or initials and keep a list of items contributed. If someone does get sick after eating something they purchased from your sale, you'll be able to trace the item back to its source.
Portable and Profitable
Small items that can be eaten on the spot, sold in individual servings, are very popular at bake sales. Cupcakes, brownies, marshmallow treats and chocolate chip, peanut butter and oatmeal cookies keep well and attract attention from buyers with a sweet tooth. If your sale starts in the morning, cinnamon rolls and slices of homemade banana bread should sell well, especially if you also offer cups of coffee or hot chocolate. Have a stack of napkins or a roll of paper towels handy for people who want to eat their purchases right away.
Some buyers will zero in on larger baked goods. They want to take these home to eat later. Focus on the kinds of things people don't often bake for themselves, such as homemade fruit pies, loaves of homemade bread and iced cakes. If these items don't move during the first half of the sale, be prepared to slice them up and repackage them in individual servings.
Package your bake sale items in zip-top plastic bags. Place two to four cookies and a couple of brownies per bag. Label the bag with the contents and a price sticker. Or post a sign with prices such as "All cookies, 50 cents a bag." Cover pies or cakes with plastic wrap or purchase pie and cake boxes from a local bakery. Highlight specialty items, such as gluten-free cookies or brownies that contain nuts. This will help people with allergies to avoid problem items. Keep some boxes handy for larger purchases such as whole pies or cakes.
- Pennsylvania State University; Bake Sale Should Follow Basic Food Safety Precautions; March 2010
- "The Big Bake Sale Cookbook --- Most Popular Bake Sale Recipes"; Barbara C. Jones; September 2007
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images
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