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Fundraising for Walk the Walk – Cake Sale at Manchester Piccadilly

The grand total which we raised was £553 which I think is an incredible amount for a cake sale. Everyone’s hard work really paid off and it proves that a simple idea can often be the best especially if you put time and effort into making it the best it can be.

A cake sale is always a great way to raise money, they’re relatively simple to organise and great fun to do. Plus it’s an excuse to eat cake and who doesn’t love that?

How did I get started?

I’m lucky because I actually work at Manchester Piccadilly Station and have been involved with previous charity cake sales. I knew they were always successful especially with the addition of a tombola so when I signed up for The MoonWalk it was only natural that I would do a cake sale as part of my fundraising.

Through my job I was able to book Saturday 14th March for the cake sale. Most big stations will let you book a charity event as long as you can provide proof you are fundraising for that charity (the authorisation letter that you can request from Walk the Walk is great for this) so if it’s something you’re interested in just ask at the station reception and see what they say.

After booking the date my next task was to rope some people into helping me. One of my colleagues Jayne and my Mum stepped up to the mark and helped me with the rest of the organisation as well as running the day itself. I also got the event onto social media as soon as I could and I had my friends and family spreading the word to encourage people into the station.

Tombola
By far the biggest undertaking when it came to organising the event was sorting out the tombola prizes. I did a lot of research online about how best to approach companies for donations and it clearly worked as we had several meal vouchers for various restaurants, gift cards, a box of chocolates and a huge hamper of goodies from Boots.

I advise starting by listing every company in the local vicinity that you can think of. Include small independent businesses as well as the larger corporations. Next I phoned round them all and tried to get a specific contact name for someone who deals with charity requests. This wasn’t always possible but I did find people were very honest on the phone about whether or not they’d be able to help. Some flat out said no straight away so I didn’t waste any more time pursuing them.

For those who I’d manage to find contact details for I then wrote a letter and either posted it, emailed it or dropped it in store with the authorisation letter from Walk the Walk. Tips for the letter are to make it personal to each company, be very clear about what it is you’re asking them to do and try to make it personal to you as well by giving a brief explanation of why you are holding the event. This sounds like a lot of work but the more work you put into it the more donations you will get. You want your letter to stand out from everyone else so it pays off to spend time getting it perfect. Also never underestimate the internet! With a bit of digging you can find contact details as well as any charities that the companies already support. Some companies make it clear online what they will and won’t support so do your research and don’t waste your time on companies who aren’t going to consider your request. It’s likely you won’t hear back from a lot of places or will just get flat out rejections. Don’t let this get you down and keep persevering.

Another great source is friends and family. Ask around and see if anyone has any unwanted gifts or bottles of wine that they would be willing to donate and use as prizes. I got a lot of prizes this way and it didn’t cost anything.

On the day we charged £2 a ticket for the tombola but by the time it got to the last couple of hours we still had quite a few prizes left so we reduced the price to £1 to try and get rid of as many as possible. This really worked as we had a late surge of people about twenty minutes before we packed up.

The Cakes
This is where it gets fun. I spent weeks deciding which six items I was going to bake (yes I baked six, yes I’m crazy but it was fun in a weird slightly stressful way!). Jayne and my Mum both baked plenty of yummy cakes and biscuits too and we managed to get a couple of other staff members to contribute a thing or two. By the time the cake sale rolled round the only item on the table that wasn’t homemade was a glorious chocolate, delightful, mousse cake which Druckers Patisserie in the Arndale Centre had donated for us. Everyone who came up to the stall was really impressed that everything was homemade so if you can I’d advise avoiding shop bought cakes. People can usually taste the difference and it may affect how much they’re willing to donate.

For the actual baking we all went with things that were pretty easy to make but that would serve lots of people. Anything like cupcakes, tray bakes or loaf cakes are always great because they’re easy to slice and serve to people. Also try and go for a wide range of flavours, not everyone is going to want a chocolate and vanilla cupcake. I did find that crispy cakes topped with mini eggs went down a real treat with kids and they’re really simple to make. Another piece of advice is to know your ingredients. Lots of people asked what was gluten free or suitable for vegetarians so make sure you know this information before you start selling so you can advise people accurately.

Decorations
We wanted our cake stall to stand out amidst the crowds on the main concourse. We went for a pink and white theme and had pink balloons and table cloths with matching napkins and paper plates. Home Bargains and pound shops were brilliant for finding cheap decorations, napkins, plates and even cardboard cake stands and cake boxes. These helped make everything look attractive and also professional. We bought some brown paper lunch bags too so that people were able to carry their purchases onto the train and when these ran out we used standard plastic sandwich bags.

Jayne also went to the effort of making a banner which read ‘fighting cancer’. We placed this along the front of the table so it was immediately clear what we were raising money for. On the table I made sure we had some leaflets about the MoonWalk and quite a lot of people took these away to read. Overall we wanted the tables to stand out but not be so overcrowded with decorations that it took away from the cakes.

The Day Itself
When the big day rolled around I thought I would be really nervous but I was surprisingly calm. I think baking whilst watching Comic Relief the night before had helped slightly! I was prepared for it to be a very long day so I made sure I wore comfy shoes. Actually I went in full power walking regalia and had my trainers on along with running leggings and a Walk the Walk t-shirt, which helped attract people over as they wanted to know what was going on. Why not contact the Walker Support Team for lots of fundraising advice.

My advice for the actual day is allow more time than you think it will take to set up and clear away and make sure you have plenty of water to drink at the stall. None of us took a break and were on our feet from 8.30am when we started setting up until gone 4.30pm when we had cleared up. Also make sure you have people helping you! Having the three of us meant that one of us could run to the loo or to grab a snack but the stall was still being manned effectively.

Another tip is to be prepared to encounter all sorts of people. 99% of them will be lovely and friendly and interested in what you are doing but we did have a couple of rude people who were ungrateful and in some cases just plain out of order. Don’t be surprised by this and make sure you take it in your stride. Just remain polite and keep smiling. After all, you’ll be surrounded by cake so there will be plenty to smile about.

The grand total which we raised was £553 which I think is an incredible amount for a cake sale. Everyone’s hard work really paid off and it proves that a simple idea can often be the best especially if you put time and effort into making it the best it can be.

Sophie

Let us know what you have planned and we can add your event to our fundraising calendar blog and support you from afar! We can also help with logos, posters and leaflets and offer you a Thank You Certificate once your event is complete. 

 

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