How to Run a Profitable Bake Sale Fundraiser

Tips for Hosting Successful Bake Sales

Bake Sale
Bake Sale. Carroll Pellegrinelli

Bake sales have long been one of the most popular ways of raising funds for schools, religious organizations, and social clubs. They can be great moneymakers because there is little or no actual capital required. All of the baked goods are usually donated.

Tips for a Successful Bake Sale

Bake sales are also community social events. People enjoy getting together over a common goal. Whether it's selling or buying brownies and cookies, they just love to mix and mingle at a bake sale.

Here are several tips to host a successful bake sale for your organization.

  • Select a leader. It should be someone who has excellent organizational skills. The person should also be able to delegate responsibilities, which is essential to a well-run event.
  • But don't forget about the volunteers. The bake sale leader will need several people dedicated to organizing donations, handling publicity, setting up tables and/or the booth, selling goods, collecting money, and cleaning up.
  • Be sure to organize a donation sign-up. Be sure to be specific in what baked goods will be needed for the sale straight from the start. So as not to end up with all "chocolate cakes," make sure you know what is being donated. Pass out individual sign-up sheets with a list of the needed items. Ask for a first and second choice of what is being donated. Get names and phone numbers so that the person can be contacted to remind them of their donation and to specify which baked good is needed. Be specific on how you want the goods packaged.
  • Check your local health codes. Some states have health codes stating that everything must be individually wrapped. Also, each baked good donated should have an index card prominently attached that has the name of the dish and a list of non-obvious and/or outstanding ingredients (such as coconut, nuts, candied or dried fruits or strawberries). The name of the person who baked it could be important to know as well.
  • Consider timing and location. Try to place your table and/or booth in a high-traffic area. To guarantee a heavy traffic flow, plan the sale around other coordinating events. For school affiliated bake sales, sporting events and theater productions would be the perfect time to host a bake sale. Local craft shows may allow free booth space for a worthy cause.
  • Presentation is everything. Set out nicely decorated and organized tables. Use tablecloths, but not in overpowering patterns. The baked goods should be your best decorations. Divide the baked goods according to type (cookies, cakes) and/or serving size (whole cakes, individual cookies). If you have several tables, separate them into just pies, cakes or even one just for chocolate goods.
  • Know your customers. Are you selling to big families? Make sure to sell cookies by the dozen and entire cakes for large groups. Sales to children or singles will be higher with individual packages of baked goods such as one brownie or one cupcake.
  • Think beyond baked goods. Serve coffee at bake sales in the evenings or on cold days. Selling cold bottled water or lemonade along with the baked goods at a football game would increase profits. If sales are slow have hourly specials. Group certain goods together for special pricing. Get recipes for all of the baked goods prior to the sale and prepare a cheap cookbook to sell at the event. Don't be limited to the typical bake sale. Try to coordinate donations of specially packaged baked goods that the buyer can give away as gifts. Offering cookie ingredients or homemade granola in decorated jars would be the perfect sale for that time of year.

    Best-Selling Baked Goods

    Your volunteers and donation sign-ups may already know that they want to donate their signature cake or famous secret family recipe cookies, but if you're looking for some inspiration, consider asking for donations from our best-selling baked goods list.

    These are some other common bake sale recipes to try: 

    • Brownies: These are probably the most popular baked good sold at a bake sale.
    • Chocolate Chip Cookies: Chocolate chip cookies are definitely a bake sale favorite. Sell them individually or by the dozen for a discount.
    • Fudge: This three-ingredient fudge will help boost your bake sale booth sales.
    • Rice Krispies Treats: It’s amazing that someone would pay for these treats when they are so easy to make, but they do. You can even find these treats in the finest bakeries. They won’t be plain, but the base is the same.
    • Sugar Cookies: Do these in your school colors for an easy sale.
    • Bundt Cakes: Bundt cakes, the original self-decorating cake, are made for bake sales. They can be made with little or no icing, making them easy to wrap-up for a sale.