With the annual Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale scheduled to take place in April, baketavists around the globe are donning their oven mitts and gearing up to spread the vegan word through the sweet treats and savory snacks.
What is the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale you ask? Well, it’s a global event in which groups across the world sell homemade baked goods and donate the money to charity. Gary Lowenthal got the idea for the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale in 2008 while thinking of ways to raise money for the newly-formed Compassion for Animals. Someone suggested a bake sale, so Gary did some research and came across the Great American Bake Sale, which is sponsored by sugar companies and all proceeds to a central charity. Gary thought about doing a vegan version, and after giving it some though, he came up with the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale.
The Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale took off in 2009 with over 80 groups participating. Over the past four years the number has steadily rose, with about 150 groups now joining in. Over the past four years more than $200,000 has raised for a variety of causes.
I love bake sales because they’re a great way to show people how delicious vegan food is while raising money for a good cause. I always host at least one bake sale a year with my MeetUp group Montclair Vegans, and we average about $1,000 a sale. Here are some of my tips for running a successful bake sale:
Pick a Date
This year’s World Wide Vegan Bake runs from April 20th through April 28th. Pick a date that works best for you and your group.
Find a Venue
A store or café in an area with heavy foot traffic is usually the best place to have a bake sale. Lobbies of office buildings, community centers and churches are also good places. Make sure there are no laws limiting the sale of baked goods in your town. Some municipalities require stores hosting bake sales to have a food license.
Pick a Charity
I always like to pick a charity that’s close to home, so that my group is supporting the local community, and I like to make sure that it’s a group that supports or rescues animals. In the past we’ve donated our bake sale money to the town’s animal shelter, a local farm animal sanctuary and a New Jersey animal rescue organization. Ask if someone from the organization can be at the sale with literature, or even merchandise to sell. It’s good to have someone on hand who can answer questions that pop up.
Ask For Help
Ask friends to help with both baking and selling. I found that creating a Google Doc that everyone can access works well. Add columns for contributions, volunteering help for the day of the sale, and make sure to get everyone’s contact info in case you need to get in touch them with them. If some of your friends aren’t natural born bakers, they can donate napkins, paper bags, paper plates or even cupcake display stands instead. Ask local bakeries and cafes if they’d like to donate something – most will say yes if they can display their cards or flyers on the table.
Stick with the Classics
I’ve found that people don’t really want to try anything new or too “weird”. Classics like brownies, chocolate chip cookies and blueberry muffins sell well. Foods people aren’t too familiar with such as raw cookies don’t tend to go untouched. Items that don’t need to be sliced or cut are much easier to sell than cakes and pies, so ask people to stick with “self serve” type treats. Savory items like mini pizzas and quesadilla slices sell well if the bake sale takes place around lunch time.
Make simple flyers that can be hung in store windows or placed on café counters. It’s also a good idea to create a Facebook event and invite people you know. Look for local event websites and call your local paper and ask that they place your bake sale in their upcoming event section.
Set a Drop Off Time
I like to have everyone drop off their baked goods and donations about half an hour before the sale starts. That gives me time for set up and pricing.
I’ve heard of groups having a “Pick Your Own Price” policy, but since the money raised goes to charity, I want to encourage potential buyers to pay a set price. I also want to respect the time and cost of ingredients that went into each type of baked-good. Price according to what a similar treat would cost in a local bakery. If there are a lot of baked goods left and it’s nearing the end of the sale, I make everything half off.
I’ve found that it’s helpful to ask if people want their change or if they’d like to donate it to the organization. If it’s just a dollar or two, they usually say yes, and the money adds up quickly. People who say they aren’t hungry and don’t want to buy anything are also inclined to donate a few dollars if they see that the sale is for a good cause. It’s a good idea to have a large glass jar that people can drop money into as they walk by.
It’s good to have a big sign that says “Bake Sale!” because otherwise your sale might just look like a group of people congregating from across the street. You can even add the word “vegan” and help educate people on the deliciousness of vegan food.
Have Literature on Hand
In addition to flyers from the charity we’re raising money for, I like to have booklets on veganism on hand. People are bound to ask questions about the vegan lifestyle, so I like to have something to give them to read when they get home.
Have Ingredient Lists
I always ask people who are baking to have a written list of ingredients with their treats. People with food allergies will what to know what they can and can’t eat, and since bakers aren’t always on hand, people working the table might not know the answer. I tape the ingredients right to the table next to the baked goods.
Have Supplies With You
Supplies you will need the day of the sale are pens, sharpies, note cards, a cash box, change, tape and scissors. Of course, you’ll also need a table or two, and maybe even a few tablecloths.
Bring Serving and Selling Supplies
Some people will want to eat their goodies on the spot and some will want to take them home. Make sure you have napkins, plates, forks, bags, bakery boxes, take out containers and some sort of wrap like aluminum foil or plastic wrap. It’s also a good idea to have food handlers gloves on hand. If people have made cakes that need to be cut, make sure you have something to cut and serve it with.
Don’t forget to enjoy yourself!