Spring is here and you know what that means? It’s BAKE SALE season! Bake sale season? You may be thinking of a million other things that the start of Spring ushers in, but those of us in the know start planning delicious ways to help others, come the first hint of sun.
Bake sales are not only an American tradition, they’re a fabulous way to rally the people in your local community and raise money for worthy causes. Of course, the best way to help everyone is to have a VEGAN bake sale, so nobody gets hurt. Anyone can enjoy vegan treats and it’s the perfect opportunity to change people’s minds about what vegan food tastes like by baking your very best, decadent desserts. I helped organize my first vegan bake sale in San Francisco in 2009, which raised $3000, and I have been an avid bake sale participant ever since!
Are you thinking about organizing or volunteering for a bake sale? Well, the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale, a yearly event boasting participants from Atlanta to Uganda, is currently underway (until May 1st). Here is your chance to rally with people all over the world to raise thousands of dollars for charities, help people make compassionate choices, and connect with like-minded people in your community. Of course, you can have a bake sale ANY time; many cities like San Francisco have them every other month, but often the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale is the push people need to get things going. Why don’t you check to see if someone has organized one in your area and if not, start planning now! Spring has only just arrived, so let’s get started..
Start with the basics
First thing’s first: pick a date, time, and location! What is a busy time for people to be outside where you live? Are there Saturday art walks or Sunday strolls? Does a Farmers Market bring people out in droves? Base the date and time on when you will have foot traffic and look for a venue in high traffic areas. The obvious choice for a location is a local vegan establishment, but not all cities are so lucky, so start thinking about businesses like boutiques, coffee shops, and even restaurants or cafes who wouldn’t mind having a pack of people out front or inside raising money for a good cause. These events are a win-win, the business gets people attending the bake sale spending money at their establishment and the bake sale gets people who frequent the business perusing their goods. Team work, people!
Pick a charity
There’s an amazing range of charities to donate your earnings to, ranging from animal rights groups to earthquake victims in Japan. Think about what appeals to your community and consider local charities like the animal rescue in town or a woman’s shelter. In larger cities, bake sales often split their funds between two charities. The benefit to this is not only are more charities helped, but the different causes will draw in different crowds wanting to help. Don’t forget to contact whoever your sale will be benefiting, they often have mailing lists and can draw more people to the sale!
Get people involved!
While you can certainly have a bake sale on your own at your office or school, in general, the rule is “the more, the merrier”. Do you have a local vegetarian society, animal rights group, or a pack of faithful friends? Get them involved! This is the time to touch base with everyone you know, call in those favors, and shout it from the roof-tops; you’re having a bake sale and you want help! If you want to get non-vegans involved with the baking, don’t forget to gently remind volunteers what is and isn’t vegan, plus direct them to great baking recipe resources like thePPK.com and VegWeb.com. Not everyone can bake, but that’s not the only thing that fuels a bake sale. You might find you need someone to design a flier and people to distribute it, people to promote the sale online and contact local press, work at the table, to lend tables and fancy display dishes, to donate napkins, plates, and takeaway containers, and of course, eaters are also needed!
You have your ‘Who, What, Where, When, and Why’.. now what? Don’t forget the details. Make a checklist of all the things you need on the day of the sale and start collecting them. Here’s some suggestions: table, tablecloth, colorful signs to post near the sale, animal rights literature for the table, a tip jar, note cards and markers to mark what the items are / price them, colorful plates and display pieces, saran wrap, boxes, and bags for to-go goodies, and a mailing list sign-up for future events. Send out an email before the sale reminding everyone of the details and items you still need. If you have a large number of bakers, stagger the times they bring goods, so you don’t have too full or too empty tables. Suggestions on what to bake are never a bad idea, recommend people bring options for the gluten and nut allergy folks, plus suggest ways to wrap and package items, so they’re easier for the eaters to take to-go, so they can buy more than just a snack. When pricing items, consider what an average price for a similar baked good would be in town and price similarly. Don’t undercut your prices, this is an event for charity, so people aren’t afraid to pay $3 for a cupcake or $5 for a cinnamon roll! You can always bring prices down later in the day.
Okay, you should be set! With a little bit of footwork and a lot of sugar, you should have a successful bake sale that benefits charity, veganism, and the local community. Bake sales are an excellent way to change the hearts and minds of people, so ladies and gentlemen, start your ovens!
Melisser Elliott: Melisser Elliott is the author of The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life, as well as award winning blog The Urban Housewife and Cruelty Free Face. She is the founder of San Francisco vegan bakery, Sugar Beat Sweets. When she’s not behind a keyboard or on the road, she participates in animal activism, vegan outreach, & spends time with her rescued best friend Strummer, the 2lb chihuahua. She currently resides in Vienna, Austria.
Yummy Vegan Baked Goodies Image Source: Melisser Elliott