Bake Sales: A Recipe for Success?


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NYU sorority Alpha Sigma Tau is increasing fundraising efforts to fight childhood cancer with Be Positive Foundation in Washington Square Park on October 5.

Lianna Rada, Contributing Writer

Student organizations at NYU seem to have concluded that donuts make the dough. On-campus groups like Out in Science, Engineering, Technology and Math, Women of Excellence Strength and Tenacity and Alpha Sigma Tau have held bake sales with a sizable net gain in the past month to raise funds for causes like Hurricane Maria relief, the American Breast Cancer Foundation and the National Organization for Women.   

Bake sales have become common practice for community fundraisers as they have proven more effective than anterior methods of money collection. Even after accounting for the cost to make and buy the goods being sold, the clubs still reported making a net gain.

The bake sale on Oct. 6 hosted by the Out in Science, Engineering, Technology and Math club proved effective, raising $300 for hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico. The bake sale consisted of donuts, cupcakes and cookies, among other things donated by club members. According to the group, the club has also used bake sales in the past to raise money for other club activities.

Vice President of the club Angie Gonzalez, a fifth year undergraduate at CAS and Tandon, said that people are more likely to give money to a bake sale for a notable cause rather than for simply club funds.

“I think a lot of people donated because it was Puerto Rico and because it was going to a good cause,” Gonzalez said.  “We said to one person, ‘Our proceeds going to Puerto Rico,’ and they whipped out like five dollars and didn’t even buy anything.”

Gonzalez also said that the club hosts bake sales to supplement its financial resources.

“We use [bake sales] to raise money to buy shirts or go to conferences because with our initial allocation, you can’t do that,” Gonzalez said. “I definitely think you get the return on your investment so quickly.”

The Women of Excellence Strength and Tenacity held a fundraiser for American Breast Cancer Foundation from Oct. 18 to 20.

“[The first day] went pretty well,” Steinhardt freshman and WEST member Chace Jones said. “We were selling coffee and hot chocolate and we actually had more donations than people actually buying.”

However, Jones said that on the second day, without the sale of the beverages, WEST saw a decrease in donations.

“There hasn’t been as many people coming to the table,” Jones said. “[A treat] is an extra incentive.”

There are exceptions to the success of the bake sale model, such as if the cost of the goods puts a significant dent in the total proceeds. Alpha Sigma Tau held a bake sale on Oct. 4 offering up Insomnia Cookies in return for monetary support for the National Organization for Women.

“Insomnia Cookies are just expensive on their own to buy, so if you’re trying to sell them for profit [and charge even more], a lot of people aren’t going to buy them,” Stern senior and Vice President of Finance for Alpha Sigma Tau Nicol Olliverre said. “We haven’t had a lot of success with bake sales.”

Instead, the sorority has seen success in putting its own spin on fundraising outside university buildings. The NYU Dance Marathon has been an effective way to collect donations from people visiting Washington Square Park.

“It’s amazing, people will just drop change in and we add it up at the end of the day and sometimes it’s close to $100 an hour,” Olliverre said. “College kids don’t usually carry cash anyways, just trying to get them to give 50 cents here and there — that’s not going to happen.”

The sorority also held a successful clothing drive that turned into a vintage pop-up shop as well as an annual talent show, Greeks got Taulent. The low cost of these events make them viable alternatives to bake sales, though the minimal planning and ease of a bake sale is hard to beat. Some college bake sales are even accepting Venmo as a payment option.

Martinez said that the oSTEM bake sale for Puerto Rico relief was personal for her.

“I was so happy,” Martinez said. “I’m Puerto Rican, so all of that hit close to home.” 

Correction: Oct. 23, 2017

A previous version of this article omitted the organization WEST was fundraising for, which was the American Breast Cancer Foundation.

Email Lianna Rada at [email protected]