These Women Have Raised More than $1 Million Through Bake Sales — Here Are Their Best Tips
In a country where just 4% of the National Cancer Institute’s budget is allocated specifically to child-specific research, fundraising is everything—that’s literally why Cookies exists. Like many nonprofits, we’ve weathered the pandemic by relying on our longtime grassroots supporters, who never, ever let us down.
Thankfully, as our nation is returning to normal, bake sales are roaring back! Three of our organization’s living legends—Amy Christenbury, Amber Vandermeer, and Leslie McCraney—have been Good Cookies for over 10 years now, hosting over 50 bake sales and raising well over $1 million! (Let that sink in for a second: Three volunteers. Over 50 bake sales. Over $1 million raised.) Their bake sale playbooks are packed with smart strategies, good-to-know takeaways, and lessons learned.
Checking in with them this spring seemed like a great idea because everyone from first-timers to veterans looking to level up their bake sales can benefit from their expertise.
Don’t price baked goods
Hands-down, their most important tip. Make this your mantra: “Give what you can take what you want.” This approach consistently maximizes donations versus pricing individual items. Instead of a straight business transaction, the goodies become more like a sweet thank-you for donating, which gives both sides the warm fuzzies. Here are some more of their best tips:
“Don’t overwhelm yourself early on,” says Amy. “My first bake sale was in my front yard.”
Choose a high-traffic spot
Think like a real estate pro: Location, location, location. “You want to set up someplace with lots of people coming and going,” says Leslie. “The more the better.”
Give very specific instructions
“Tell bakers that everything needs to be individually wrapped,” says Amber. “If people bring a big platter of unwrapped cookies that creates work at the last minute which distracts from other tasks.” Also, tell them to clearly label anything that contains nuts, Leslie advises. “People do ask.”
All three super hosts use tech in every way possible to appeal for donations, streamline planning and publicize the event. Social media is a fantastic way to spread the word, even more so when you can get friends to share and re-share details about the place and time. Leslie tells people that re-sharing a Facebook post about a bake sale is a free, two-second way to help. And speaking of technology…
Create a QR code for your event. This offers a simple way for the ‘But-I-don’t-have-any-cash-on me’ crowd to donate money digitally, says Amber. Not familiar with this? Check out https://www.qr-code-generator.com for the basics.
Reframe your thinking
Tend to shy away from asking people to help? Think differently. “You’re giving people an easy way to give to a very important cause,” Amber points out. “I’ve actually had many bakers thank me for giving them the opportunity to help.”
Never make assumptions
You never, ever know who will help and who won’t. “I once had a homeless gentleman absolutely insist on donating a dollar,” recalls Amy. “Honestly, that felt priceless.”
A lot of kids need community service hours, whether for school, religious, or other service organizations or honor societies. Reach out to local Scout troops or ask at the high school if there is a Key Club.
Enlist grocery stores
Amber has had good luck with approaching supermarkets for donations. Usually, they can’t donate cash, but they might be able to donate baking basics (think flour, sugar, eggs, chocolate chips) or a store gift card or credit. “I’ve used donated store credit to pick up slice-and-bake dough and given that to someone to bake off and wrap,” says Amber.
Community event coming up...such as a blood drive, car wash, sports tournament, or 5K? Set up a table there for a bake sale!
At a buck apiece, a $6 case of bottled water can add $24 to your bottom line. If someone donates the water, even better—a great option to suggest to someone too busy to bake.