Did you know that October is not just National Cookie Month, but National Caramel Month and National Dessert Month as well? Sweets are in the air, with a national mandate! Bake sales might seem like an idea of the past that brings in little money and eats up oodles of mom’s time.
With a few modern twists, however, bake sales have the potential to raise some serious funding for your school, nonprofit, or other community project! Here are some tips to take advantage of our sweetest month with a modern, financially viable cookie and dessert fest.
1. Find a Cookie or Sweet Niche Market
A feasibility study for a bake sale? Why not! Elect a committee member to quick call a select batch of parents for a survey of what sweet is most desired in the home or other market for your particular group. Know what your market wants – it is possible you are thinking of making a thousand Rice Krispy Treats when what parents want at home are oatmeal cookies and granola bars.
You can also send a survey through a company like Survey Monkey (there is a free option) to the whole PTO or nonprofit mailing list to find out the top picks. This way you will organize your baking efforts to be able to buy wholesale supplies for ingredients and packing, saving on the cost end to maximize profits.
2. Make the Sales Pitch Sweet
Don’t call it a bake sale! People will only envision Betty Crocker, Crisco, and extra pounds in their problem areas. Opt for “Treat Yourself for a Cause,” “Sweet Tooth School Sensations,” or some other catchy name that looks forward and captures the interests of your market (as learned in your quick feasibility study/market analysis).
3. Set Monetary Goals and Adequate Pricing
A fatal error of bake sales is that people do not set an adequate product price. Not only do you need to ask for at least double what the actual supplies cost, but you need to charge an appropriate rate for the time and effort of the bakers and volunteers!
You can calculate this cost by using a flat volunteer hourly in-kind rate of $20 an hour. If a volunteer uses 12 hours of her time to bake you cookies, you need to add $240 into the cost of the cookie batch. In that case, if supplies cost $150, and 20 dozen cookies were produced, the price of each cookie would need to be: ($240 for time + $300 for supplies) / (240 cookies) = $2.25 per cookie. This way, the profit comes from not just the savings on the wholesale purchasing, but also from the donation of the volunteer’s time.
Make sure you know exactly how many cookies you need to sell to meet your goal before you start your sale, and make individuals responsible for a certain sales number. In the above example, $1.62 of every cookie is “profit” for the nonprofit sale, totaling $390 for the organization. If you wanted to raise $5,000, you would need 13 people to dedicate themselves to cooking and selling their cookies.
4. Sell Your Sweets in Advance
Don’t plan to sit at a table outside the school cafeteria or wrestling meet to sell your cupcakes and snickerdoodles – sell preorders for your identified favorite sweet treats. A family can order a packet of cookies that will last the entire month this way – exponentially increasing your order and saving your Saturday woman/man hours sitting at tables at school functions.
Put an organized committee member in charge of accepting phone calls for pre-orders, and put at least three in charge of calling, emailing, Facebooking, and tweeting the advertisement for sweets availability to your market. You can also make each individual responsible for selling a set amount of pre-orders to their personal network!
Set a pickup destination, like your school gym or classroom on Friday afternoons, so that you don’t incur any transportation cost as well. That way the “table-sitting” hour is reduced to a minimum!
Turn a bake sale into a real fundraiser to celebrate this October’s National Dessert, Cookie, and Caramel Month and help out your school or nonprofit! (More fundraising ideas.)