So the Dance Marathon half money deadline came and went, and you’re wondering just how you’ll raise the next $200 by March. Yes, it’s always possible to beg Dad for a check and call it good, but wouldn’t it be better to raise that money yourself? Except everybody goes canning, and basketball game concessions are out of the question because you’re just too busy…
If this dilemma sounds all too familiar, consider topping off your DM account by hosting a bake sale. This would give you the flexibility to fundraise when it fits into your busy schedule, the means to raise money for the Danny Did Foundation and, best of all, the excuse to get together with your friends and prepare a ton of goodies. As daunting as it may seem to host a bake sale on top of the rest of your commitments as a college student, it can be fun and profitable with the right kind of planning.
Once you know you want to host a DM bake sale, it’s important to move quickly to determine where you want to sell food. Of course, if you are more comfortable as a traveling salesperson, this part isn’t as important, as you can sell from your dorm room, door-to-door, wherever. But if you have dreams of setting up a table in a high-traffic, public location on campus (which gives you the opportunity to sell more), you need to take into account the location type, availability and reservation procedures.
In order to set up a bake sale at the Rock, the Arch, Kellogg or the Norris lawn, you must be part of a recognized student organization or department, as you need to sign up with a SOFO number for accountability purposes. So you know what that means — gather up a few people from your Wiffle Ball Team, and fill out Norris Outdoors’ Outdoor Event Request Form.
Although Tech is booked most of the time, email Jason Grocholski, Tech’s administrative assistant, to reserve a table in the Tech lobby. And if you have an “in” with the theater community and want to host a bake sale in Theatre and Interpretation Center, get in touch with TIC Administration to book a date.
Getting the Word Out
Perhaps the most useful way to spread news of an upcoming bake sale is through a Facebook event. Upload an appetizing photo of the noms you’re planning to sell, and keep the title short, sweet and to the point. For example, if you and your Nutella Appreciation Club secure a spot at the Rock where you’ll be selling Nutella truffles, call the event something like “Nutella Truffles at the Rock.” That way, people will know what’s for sale and where it is. Plus, who can turn down Nutella truffles?
Beyond an appetizing and informative title, you need to get use the event description to get to the real point: Dance Marathon. It’s fun to describe the treats, but what will really get people to help you out is to emphasize the good cause. When customers know you’re selling goodies to raise money that will go toward Danny Did’s mission to advance seizure awareness and protection, they will be even happier to help you out in your fundraising.
Once you have a well-crafted Facebook event that you’ve invited your gazillions of friends to, take to listserv spam. This is the obvious next step. Just make sure only one person notifies each listserv of the event. If people start getting multiple emails about the same thing, they grow tired of its presence, so be careful with that.
Also, you can let Spoon know about your bake sale, and we’d be happy to post about it on our Facebook page!
Ah yes, the best part of the bake sale: the baking part. You may recall bake sales of your childhood as pseudo-potluck amalgamations of desserts, from brownies to muffins to Ms. Anderson’s rock-hard chocolate chip cookies, but when you’re hosting a bake sale as a college student, it’s important to keep it simple. Have one specialty item that your fellow students don’t often delight in, and make sure that item is something easy to make in bulk and also somewhat portable. So that rules out impeccably decorated cupcakes and most kinds of pie (better luck next time). Whatever you choose to make, make a ton of it. It’s always better to have a little left over for you to eat in the end instead of running out exactly when everyone on campus hears about how amazing your bars taste.
Cookies are usually a good idea, as long as they are unique enough to really catch people’s attention, like kitchen sink cookies and bacon chocolate chip cookies. Bars are also good because they usually involve creating batter, spreading it into a pan and cutting it into as many pieces as you’d like. Some ideas for bars include granola bars and chocolate chip caramel peanut butter bars. And if you’d like to get a little more creative with your bake sale offerings, consider making vegan chocolate truffles or svetty balls (the latter offers great word-of-mouth advertising opportunities).
In preparing food to sell at a bake sale, consider gluten-free, vegetarian/vegan and peanut-free recipes as well. It is not too often that people can buy something delicious that supports a good cause and their restricting diets, so special desserts may be to your benefit.
But you don’t always have to do desserts either. Student groups have sold things like dumplings and hot dogs, and not too long ago, the Quidditch Team even sold butterbeer at the Rock. If you want to sell hot foods, let your contact person know right away, as some campus locations are required by the city of Evanston to have a permit to do so.
Price and Presentation
The theme of this entire article about hosting a Dance Marathon bake sale is that if you keep it simple, your life will be easier. This goes for pricing your goods as well. Obviously plan a price that allows you to profit at least a little bit off of whatever food you’re choosing to sell, but round to the nearest dollar amount – and keep it cheap. Remember, we’re all a bunch of poor, stressed out college students. Give us a break (and let us eat your desserts).
On the day (or days) you’re working the bake sale table, have a cash box with tons of single dollar bills on hand for students paying with smaller bills. Have enough fives and tens ready too — NU students often tend to pull cash from ATMs, so you need to be prepared when someone shows up with a twenty.
Also, as trivial as it may sound, make your table and goods look nice. This may or may not involve balloons, a poster or two and ribbons tied around bags of cookies. Go as all out as you need to, because that’s another thing that will grab attention. It would also be a great idea to get the DM and Danny Did logos prominent on your sign so there will be no question what the bake sale is for.
And that’s what it takes to organize and conduct a theoretically successful bake sale. So now there’s no reason not to round up your friends and take them to the kitchen to raise money for a good cause.
And really, if you do make Nutella truffles, you’re guaranteed at least one customer: me.