Bake Sale 101

You can’t have a school fundraising website and not talk about the way it all started: the humble Bake Sale. Fundraising has evolved and changed over the years, but the Bake Sale is still a terrific way to raise money for your school or club, and have fun while you’re doing it.

It’s easy to host a Bake Sale Fundraiser for your school. You’ll need to set a date, find a location, recruit volunteers to run it, decide what you’re going to sell, ask for donations of baked goods and all the other items you’re going to sell, spread the word, and then sell!

Let’s get into the specifics for all those steps, plus find ways to take it up a notch to raise more money.

bake sale written in flour, with a rolling pin
A Bake Sale is the Classic School Fundraiser

How to Have the Best Bake Sale Ever and Raise lots of Money

The first thing you and your fundraising committee will need to do is set a date to hold your bake sale. Ideally, you’ll hold it when you know parents will be around, like during a school performance, festival, or maybe during parent conferences. Or maybe just on a Friday afternoon after school! Whatever works best to assure the maximum number of customers will be there.

Of course you’ll probably have to get prior approval from the school, so you can be sure to get the best location to set up your sale, and to be added to the school’s calendar. Some school districts have rules about what kinds of food can be sold, so you’ll need to first find out what those rules are and how you can have a sale that follows them.

While many local health departments do allow home baked goods to be sold, some schools have decided they would rather not permit food sales, citing childhood obesity rates. You’ll also want to follow any specific rules your school may have regarding food allergies and labeling.

Get Volunteers

The key to recruiting volunteers for any school fundraiser is making sure you’ve set clear expectations. Creating a schedule and set plans help people fully understand what they’re committing to ahead of time.

Who Does What

Some people have more time to volunteer for the prep and some are going to be needed at the sale itself. If the sale lasts from 12pm – 3pm, you’d need a team to do set up, staff the bake sale table, and then to clean up afterwards, as well as account for all the money the sale brought in, and get it deposited in the bank.

Before the event, you’d need people to help get donations, think about the decor and display ideas, and spread the word, like on your social channels.

During the bake sale, it’s a great idea if one person can handle the money, while others do the selling and maintaining the table. Set the cashier up for success with the proper amount and kinds of change, and a secure cash box. If your group accepts electronic payments, make sure the cashier is logged into the accounts, has the credit card scanner, and good wifi.

Looking for Fundraisers that require less hands-on work? Read our list of Passive Fundraiser Ideas.

Cupcakes for sale at a Bake Sale
Cupcakes for sale at a Bake Sale

What to Sell at a Bake Sale

Here’s a list of classic Bake Sale items:

  • Cupcakes
  • Cookies
  • Brownies
  • Bar Cookies
  • Mini Pies, or Hand Pies
  • Full-sized Pies
  • Full-sized Cakes
  • Pretzels, plain and Chocolate-Dipped
  • Chocolate Truffles
  • Fudge or other Candies
  • Cake Pops
  • Cheesecake Bites
  • Rugelach
  • Biscotti
  • Toffee
  • Turtles
  • Popcorn Balls
  • Puppy Chow or other Snack Mix
  • Banana Bread or other Quick Bread
  • Hot Chocolate Bombs
  • Donuts
  • Muffins

See our List of all the Best Bake Sale Recipes here.

What Else Can You Sell Besides Baked Goods?

Why not sell coffee to go with all those delicious baked goods? You can either set up a large coffee urn and make it yourself (get this terrific one via our Amazon affiliate link), or you can ask for donations from a local coffee spot that wants to help support your school.

They could send a to-go carton, which would save time and effort for your team, and they may even send cups, cream, and sugar along with the coffee, which is another time saver.

Of course you can also have bottled coffee drinks on hand, kid-sized milk cartons, and you may want to go the extra mile and have hot water for making tea or hot cocoa.

Extras to Stock Up On

You’ll want to have plenty of napkins, small paper plates, cups, maybe even some extra ziploc bags or plastic containers, and shopping bags, in case people want to buy a lot at once. For your volunteers, you may want to have aprons and plastic serving gloves, as well as clean-up supplies in case there are any spills.

volunteers selling baked goods at a Bake sale
Everyone can have fun at your Bake Sale!

Make the Most of It

Since you’ll be interacting with your community face-to-face, it’s a great opportunity to spread the word about your group, any upcoming plans and meetings, and certainly let everyone know about the next volunteer opportunity! Make flyers people can take with them if they’re in a hurry, and be sure to add one to each bag of goodies sold.

You can also make a poster with all the info, so people can see at a glance what’s coming up. Plus, have a way for people to sign up for your email list if they haven’t already done so, either with a clipboard and paper sign-up sheet or with their phone. And if your group has paid members, this is a great chance to sell memberships, too.

How to Display your Baked Goods

Make your bake sale table(s) inviting and you’ll sell more goods, which is ultimately the point, right? Use nice, clean tablecloths, line baskets with napkins, put some items on a taller base so they stand out, and make sure there’s plenty of access. You don’t want people crowding in and blocking the view for others, and you want to avoid bottlenecks.

Feel free to add bouquets of flowers, too, to make the table stand out. If you have a theme, by all means use that, or you could use your school colors and mascot as a theme.

Use Individual Packaging

We recommend using ziploc bags or other individual plastic bags for all your baked goods. We know there are environmental considerations, but we also know that many Health Department rules require that items for sale must be packaged. And especially if there are allergy concerns, bags are necessary.

Add signs with labels for each item, and be sure to carefully note if any items contain allergens, like nuts or soy. Depending on whether your community has any children with known nut allergies, you may decide to simply not allow any nuts in any items at all. Similarly, if you know that there are people in your group who need (or prefer) gluten-free goodies, you may even want to set up a separate table to display them.

Get our Bake Sale Sign Templates here

Get our Bake Sale Label Template here

How Do you Price Bake Sale Goodies?

A word about pricing baked goods. This is always going to be a subjective thing, since each community is different, but remember that this is meant to be a fundraiser, so you should aim for the highest amount your market will bear, without going so high that people are unwilling to spend the money or will feel resentful about it.

Also, bear in mind that some items can be made to seem more valuable by making them larger or adding a handful of smaller items to one bag. A ziploc bag full of 6 small cookies may sell for $5 or $1, depending on what you feel your supporters would be willing to pay. A large brownie may sell for $3 or $1, it’s totally up to you.

Remember that all the items for sale are donated, so you’ll be making a profit on the sale without a doubt. The question is, how much of a profit and how much work did it take to make it.

If your community is used to buying Bake Sale goodies for $1 each, why not add a Tip Jar so that if anyone feels like it they can drop extra money in there to help support the school.

muffins for sale
Muffins are terrific Bake Sale goodies

Get Donations

Speaking of donations, you’ll need to get donated baked good for this Bake Sale! Make your wish list of all the baked goods you’d want to sell, and send it out there to your team and supporters when you announce the sale.

You can have a sign-up sheet so you don’t end up with 25 kinds of brownies, unless that’s what your community loves, of course. But always allow for people who want to donate their famous cookies, even if you already have a similar one. Make sure people feel welcome and that their efforts are appreciated and they’ll be supporters forever.

You can ask for everyone to drop off their goodies at a certain time and place, and you can request that they bring the items already packaged, so as to avoid unnecessary handling. If you have specific bags you want people to use, you may be able to buy a supply and hand them out ahead of time. That adds costs, so it’s something you’ll need to decide as a team.

Have an Awesome Bake Sale Fundraiser

A Bake Sale may have been the first type of school fundraiser ever, and it’s still a great idea. Not only will you be able to raise money, but your supporters will get to enjoy delicious baked goodies, and sample food from the school’s best bakers. It’s not hard to do, but you do need to know everything that’s involved. We hope this guide helps you have a terrific Bake Sale, and if you’re looking for other Fundraising ideas, check out this list.

Sarah A. has been fundraising for her kids’ schools for years. She’s got the info you need and she’s ready to share it with you!

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