A few weeks ago I wanted to donate to the UNICEF appeal for the Pakistan floods, but I only had $10 in my pocket. Aware of the magnitude of the situation over there, I realised that my $10 wouldn't have much of an impact, so I went to the supermarket and spent that $10 on baking ingredients instead. With the help of some social networking devices I rallied up my friends and we set up a little trestle table in the heart of Newtown, selling our home made goodies to passers by. In the course of a day we managed to transform our small change into a whopping $750 – which is still a small drop in the ocean when it comes to recovering what Pakistan has lost, but a bigger drop that just $10.
If you have a passion cause, or are touched by a particular plight but just can't donate what you'd like to, I'd encourage you to organize your own cake stall – it's a lot easier, and a lot more fun that you'd think.
After deciding to hold a stall, your biggest consideration will probably be location. Markets are an easy option, but the bigger ones, like the Glebe Markets or Rozelle Markets, often have restrictions on selling food, and the stall costs can sometimes be a little steep. Check with your local council what markets are on in your area and what regulations they have on food stalls.
Councils also require vendors to have public liability insurance. The cheapest insurance I found was $110 for a 3 month policy with AAMI, so in order to get your money's worth you might want to hold a few stalls over this period. The upside to markets is that many offer casual stallholders the option of buying into their policy rather than having to take one out on their own – Rozelle Markets charge $10 for this service. If the red tape all seems a little too much, you could always consider a more guerilla approach and just set up on the street and not notify the council… but of course we would never advocate that!
On the day, try and coordinate your friends to stagger the arrival of their baked goods. This will help ensure food is fresh and hasn't been sitting in the sun all day. Make sure goods are non-perishable – cupcakes and cookies are great. Also steer clear of wrapping food in cellophane, whilst it seems like an attractive way of ensuring hygiene the food will inevitably start to sweat. It's worth having a couple of umbrellas handy too, to open up and create a bit of shade if it starts to get hot.
Make sure you have a clearly visible sign explaining what you're fundraising for. Try and keep your wording to a minimum, though, as passers by will likely just glance at your sign. I saw many people abandon my sign half way through reading it because it was too wordy.
Lastly, we found as soon as we had one customer there would immediately be 5 others behind them. We realised that people were curious, but feared coming over for a gawk on their own, so whenever we had a quiet spell, we'd plant a couple of friends as fake customers to generate a crowd and everything would suddenly start selling like… well, cupcakes.
You can make a real day out it: enlist a group of friends to keep you company and get all the generations involved - my mum and her friends brought along goodies, and kids make great peddlers! It's also a really positive way to engage with your local community. I found many locals not only stopped to buy a cake, but also for a chit-chat and to share some kind words of encouragement.
Wow Laura that's so impressive! To go from $10 to $750 in just a few hours... What an awesome effort!! It's a shame that getting a stall and public liability insurance is so expensive! (We’d all be rich). Also I don't think your sign looks too wordy at all!!
By Ashleigh - senior reviewer Monday, 29th of November @ 11:25 pm
With regard to the council fees and public liability, a wise old friend once said "it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission".
By Dora Bona - senior reviewer Sunday, 13th of February @ 11:02 pm