7 Steps to a Successful School Bake Sale

Photo by Judy Davidson/Getty Images

Everyone loves a bake sale! They are fun, easy, and something the kids will enjoy helping with, too. 

If you’re planning a larger bake sale as a formal fundraiser for your school, team or community group, check out this complete check list from the folks at VolunteerSpot and make your bake sale a SWEET success.

1. Gather a Team

Bake sales take lots of helping hands. By breaking down the event into bite-sized tasks, it’s simple for many people to make a small contribution towards a successful fundraiser. Volunteers are needed to:

  • Bake cookies, cakes, pies, etc.
  • Purchase pre-baked items
  • Purchase decorations
  • Make signs and flyers
  • Setup and clean up
  • Staff the bake sale

2. Choose the Best Spot

Pick a well-trafficked time, place and location. To increase sales, try scheduling the bake sale during another event, like a school sports game, open house or carnival, church picnic, soccer tournament, swim meet, theater event, race, parade or garage sale.

3. Get the Word Out

Promote your bake sale in school and group newsletters and post colorful signs near foot traffic such as the school drop off and pickup line, and close to the bake sale itself.  Another opportunity to remember is your social network. Have the team post mentions and photos on Facebook to build interest. e.g., “Can’t wait for tomorrow’s bake sale, look at these delicious darlings I’m baking! <photo> Come buy a piece at the Team bake sale!”

4. Start Baking!

Homemade items sell faster and baking at home offers opportunities for kids to help. We all know parents are BUSY, so be sure to welcome store-bought goods as well. If you want to ensure a tasty palette of choices, plan general categories and ASK volunteers to sign up for specific donations. Be sure to include nut-free & gluten-free options for customers with food allergies and healthy choices for those avoiding sweets. Consider these options:

  • Cookies
  • Cakes
  • Pies
  • Cobbler
  • Popcorn, Popcorn Balls
  • Banana and other Sweet Breads
  • Scones
  • Fruit/Chocolate Bars
  • Rice Cereal Treats
  • Cheesecakes
  • Doughnuts
  • Muffins
  • Brownies
  • Granola or Trail Mix (packaged in plastic cups with lids)
  • Fresh fruit salad (packaged in plastic cups with lids)
  • Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Tip: Create a free online signup sheet on VolunteerSpot.com and ask parents to choose what they’re going to bring and how they will help. 

5. Boost Sales with Bonus Items

Once you’ve gathered a crowd, think creatively about how to get them to spend even more money at your bake sale with value-added offerings: lemonade, coffee or hot chocolate, yogurt cups, and small servings of jam and icing to go with the baked goods.

If your bake sale takes place during the holidays, provide decorative cellophane bags and ribbon or gift wrap items for a small fee. Consider adding a raffle with a choice prize such as a special cake or donated spa treatment or restaurant gift certificate.

6. Pay Attention to Presentation

  • Are all baked goods labeled with a list of ingredients (or at least nuts or other allergens, if present)? 
  • Are the tables arranged to maximize space and allow people to walk around?
  • Do the tablecloths have a simple pattern so the baked goods are the main attraction?
  • Will cupcakes and cookies be sold both individually and in sets?
  • Are edible items out of reach from small kids?

7. Be Prepared!

Use this checklist to gather everything you need for bake sale day:

Tip: Check the space a few days before to see what items the school or event venue can provide. Pack small items in a wagon to make them easier to carry from your car.

For even more great bake sale tips and ideas, check out VolunteerSpot’s free Bake Sale eBook

To do list

Folding tables
Table cloths
Cash box with plenty of change
Chair and fan for volunteers
Cooler with ice for cold drinks and insulated carafe for hot drinks
Small plates and cups
Plastic forks and spoons
Small to-go boxes or large zipper plastic bags
Colored sticky dots representing pricing (red= $.50, yellow = $1, green = $2.50, etc.)
Index cards and Sharpie to list item names and ingredients
Plastic gloves for serving food
Cake/pie serving utensils
Trash bags and trash can
Cleaning supplies including a broom, mop, spray cleaner and towels