Is This Enough To Cover My Rear End?

Business By banananutmuffin Updated 22 Jan 2009 , 9:14am by Evoir

banananutmuffin Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 1:01am
post #1 of 37

I don't make cakes for $$... so I don't have a license or anything. I just make cakes to give away. I want to issue a press release so the public knows about my service. Does this sound like it's enough to cover my rear end so that the govnt doesn't come after me for baking without a license? (The most relevant part is probably the third paragraph.) Thanks for any opinions!

Local Sweets Decorator Bakes For Charity

January 16, 2008 (town, STATE) A local cake and cookie decorator has discovered a sweet way to give back to the community. Charity Name bakes and decorates free goodies for charitable causes.

I just want to help people, says Baker X, who started spreading her sweet deeds after the death of her mother in 2008. My mom, Mom X, was known for her compassionate heart, her kind soul, and her charitable deeds. This is my way of carrying on her legacy.

Since Baker X isn't a professional pastry chef with a commercial kitchen, she only donates her goodies to events that permit homemade items (such as bake sales and church bazaars). If you're having a bake sale with home baked sweets to raise money for someone who needs help, just send me an email, Baker X says. I can usually make you a cake, some cupcakes or some decorated cookies.

And don't let the word homemade fool you. The cakes made for charity by Charity Name are bakery quality, with rich buttercream frosting, moist cakes and fondant decorations. Her cookie designs are pretty enough to serve as a party favor. I make my baked goods top quality so that they make as much money possible for charity, says Baker X.

However, Charity Name won't make a cake for just any cause. My mission is to help people at a very personal level, says Baker X. As a result, you're likely to get a cake if your bake sale profits are helping a local family whose house was destroyed in a fire, or if you're raising money to pay medical bills for a disabled child. Mostly my cakes are made for needy individuals or families who don't have a lot of resources rather than organized charities or groups that are already pretty well-funded, explains Baker X.

Availability is limited, so it helps to contact Charity Name as soon as your event has a date. I'm only one person, Baker X says, and my cakes are more than just a box mix and canned frosting. They take time.

All materials are donated by Charity Name. I don't expect nor accept any compensation, says Baker X.

To learn more visit website.

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36 replies
OhMyGanache Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 2:22pm
post #2 of 37

I think it sounds fine except the end kind of leaves you hanging. I think there needs to be a summation at the end.

-Tubbs Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 2:27pm
post #3 of 37

Yes, I also think it sounds good - you write well. You should probably check with your health department first, to ensure that you're not breaking any rules though.

I don't want to sound cynical, but I'm just wondering what your long-term intentions are here. Are you planning to be legal, ultimately, or are you going to be the cake fairy forever? Can you afford to do that? Will you become jaded when someone wants a cake and you don't feel like making it? If you want one day to charge for your cakes, will you find it difficult to tell people that?

Just some thoughts.

banananutmuffin Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 2:56pm
post #4 of 37

Thanks for the thoughts!

Tubbs: Yes, my intention is to be a cake fairy forever, but to limit myself to a max of two cakes per month (to keep it affordable and from being overwhelmed). I live in a small town, so I don't suspect I'll get more than one or two requests per month anyway. Once I reach that limit, I'll simply tell people that I'm booked for the month. I will never want to charge for my cakes, simply because I know that cake making will stop being enjoyable for me the moment it becomes a job.

indydebi Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 3:05pm
post #5 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by TubbsCookies

Yes, I also think it sounds good - you write well. You should probably check with your health department first, to ensure that you're not breaking any rules though.



good idea

j-pal Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 3:07pm
post #6 of 37

Ummm - it's my understanding (correct me if I'm wrong) that the Health Department doesn't care if you charge or not. They are not a financial institution. Their concern is an unlicensed facility baking cakes for the general public. My understanding is that they only bring up $$ in reference to determining when you might consider yourself a business over a hobbyist. I would really check with them first. My Health Department made it very clear... if I'm baking for the general public, then it poses a health risk to the general public - doesn't matter if I charge or not.

Now... charging or not charging... that would have to do with the IRS and wether or not you're claiming it... but that's a whole different issue!

indydebi Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 3:12pm
post #7 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by j-pal

Ummm - it's my understanding (correct me if I'm wrong) that the Health Department doesn't care if you charge or not. They are not a financial institution. Their concern is an unlicensed facility baking cakes for the general public.



It may depend on each state's rules. I can make cakes out of my home all day long if I am giving them to friends and family. I cannot SELL cakes that are made in my home.

If was strictly an issue of "baking cakes for the general public", where would you draw the line? Ok to make cakes for your sister but not your cousin? Ok to make a cake for your pitch in at work, but not for your church dinner?

But it's a very good question and a good reason to check with the local HD just to make sure everything is ok.

grama_j Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 3:20pm
post #8 of 37

I'm thinking, if it is a small town, everyone already KNOWS what is going on.... (they do around here!)and there would be no need to advertise free food........ Tell the Pastors at the Churches, a couple of teachers, Girl Scouts, etc...... My point is, if the Health Dept. wants to give you a hassle, why make it easy for them ? It has gotten so bad that some schools will not even allow homemade goodies to be brought in anymore..... Watch your back.....

summernoelle Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 3:27pm
post #9 of 37

I don't mean this to be rude, I really, really don't, but writing about yourself in the 3rd person in an article format seems strange to me. Have you thought of just writing it like a bio on yourself?

j-pal Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 3:29pm
post #10 of 37

[quote="indydebi"]

Quote:
Originally Posted by j-pal

If was strictly an issue of "baking cakes for the general public", where would you draw the line? Ok to make cakes for your sister but not your cousin? Ok to make a cake for your pitch in at work, but not for your church dinner?

But it's a very good question and a good reason to check with the local HD just to make sure everything is ok.




I agree, it may very well be different for each state, and it would be very difficult to "draw the line", so-to-speak.

What I was told was that if I do a cake for my family and it's served at their birthday party, everyone knows where it came from. However, if I give away a wedding cake (or graduation cake...) and it's served to dozens or hundreds of guests... that's the general public... they don't know where the cake came from. It's not their risk.

I know of several people who have been turned in to the health department. I was turned in. When the HD called, they did not ask me if I was "selling" cakes, they asked me if I was doing cakes out of my home. They told me I had to stop baking cakes for other people from my home. I realize it seems like symantics, but I'd just recommend everyone to be very careful.

One other quick note... when checking with the HD, always ask for the person in charge... or someone who's been there for a long time. You can talk to 3 different people and get 3 different answers. Get their name and any pertinent information and document it well!

Doug Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 3:30pm
post #11 of 37

and re IRS & State Tax Dept.

as long as she strictly DONATES them with no "material benefit or return" she's in the clear.

would be treated as would any charitable contribution....

with the following asterisk....

she could only deduct as a charitable deduction on taxes if it was to a recognized tax-exempt charitable organization, a 501(c)(3). Example: for church, cancer society: deductible. For the ad-hoc benefit for the kid hurt in the car wreck: nope.

-----------------

sounds like an interesting "ministry" to me -- one of care and compassion.


Instead of I don't expect nor accept any compensation, might you say "Knowing I've helped is my only compensation."?

-K8memphis Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 4:15pm
post #12 of 37

Me, I would just contact places and ask what's on their calendar. Most non-profits have fund raisers planned through out the year. Go for the silent auctions maybe.

Other examples, children's homes, the police and fire departments, senior places. But the deal is you have to be way above board in the sanitation department to bake for the public. Not that you're not but I mean it's a great idea but I think I'd just keep my eyes open for oppourtunites rather than advertise. But that's just me.

Virtuous idea. I think advertising will bring out the kooks. If you go person to person or person to organization you will have more success perhaps.

Auryn Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 4:40pm
post #13 of 37

ok
at the risk of putting my foot in my mouth as i have done before, writing a press release on how great of a charitable cake fairy you are ( I am saying it in generality not you specifically) makes me feel like the person is not charitable at all but rather does it to stroke their own ego and are looking for recognition.

i know you think that you will only get a couple of requests, but trust me when something is free people crawl out of the woodwork- example people standing in 3 hour lines in the cold yesterday to get a free $15 mascara.

if you really want to be the cake fairy, i agree with what others said- find a couple of local organizations and work with them, maybe a women's/children shelter, a nursing home or a soup kitchen

OhMyGanache Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 5:51pm
post #14 of 37

She is doing something nice - is it really necessary to question her motives?!? Sheesh!

I do free cakes for the children's hospital - and I have NEVER been able to turn down a child no matter how busy I have been. Just wondering if you think you'll really be able to say "no"... I never can! LOL!

snarkybaker Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 5:57pm
post #15 of 37

I really think you should not take legal advice from cake decorators no order birthday cakes from an accountant.

My singular concern is the liability you create by making cakes for people you don't know. If your nephew gets salmonella from your undercooked smbc, your sister probably wont sue you. A complete stranger is another case entirely. Just because you are donating doesn't make you exempt from liability.

__Jamie__ Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 6:05pm
post #16 of 37

In my opinion, something like this should be reported by someone other than yourself. If the place you are doing this charitable work for won't put something together to report to a local newspaper or tv station.....I don't know. But writing it yourself? Seems odd to me. Just my thought, don't hurl muffins at me.

summernoelle Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 6:11pm
post #17 of 37

I hope you don't think that I was meaning what one previous poster said, that you were blowing your own horn and talking about how great you are. I absolutely do NOT feel that way-I think what you are doing is amazing, and kind, and incredibly generous. Just to clarify, I just thought that it might be a good idea to write a bio about yourself, not an aritcle, and that it may make a better impression.

Good luck to you!

Auryn Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 6:11pm
post #18 of 37

im not questioning her motives,
I'm just pointing out how it might look to someone reading it.

If someone else was writing it about her, it would give me warm fuzzy feelings about how great a person she is.
If I know she is writing it about herself,not so much.

*edited to ad* I spent 4 years studying marketing and another 5 doing it as my job, so I see everything from a different perspective.

__Jamie__ Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 6:13pm
post #19 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Auryn

If someone else was writing it about her, it would give me warm fuzzy feelings about how great a person she is.
If I know she is writing it about herself,not so much.





Basically, exactly my point. And I think saying this is along the lines of constructive criticism...all in the spirit of being helpful.

banananutmuffin Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 6:14pm
post #20 of 37

Well, regarding my motives, I won't be using my real name in the press release (which, as a standard, are written in third person not first), just the charity name, so it's not about recognition. The purpose is to let people know it's out there.

I guess I didn't think it through... or perhaps I don't understand. Around here it's very common to have bake sales for fundraising (like if a family's house burns down, their neighbor will have a bake sale to raise money to help them buy clothes, food, etc.). In those cases the baked goods offered for sale are almost always made by the victim's family and friends in regular ol' kitchens. They don't get visited by the health department. I was offering to simply do the same thing for people, so I guess I didn't really see where health regulations or liabilities might come into play. This type of bake sale is common here... Is it different other places perhaps?

Also, I have tried spreading the word through churches and friends and stuff. It just seems like nobody wants my cakes. Of course, that might be more reflective of my baking... And though I hadn't considered it, I suppose it IS possible that this type of press release could bring out the kooks. Definitely food for thought...

OhMyGanache Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 6:17pm
post #21 of 37

A press release is something that is usually written by the person it's about - or someone they hire to write it professionally. It's not an issue of "tooting your own horn" - it's standard.

-Tubbs Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 7:40pm
post #22 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by PoleKitten

A press release is something that is usually written by the person it's about - or someone they hire to write it professionally. It's not an issue of "tooting your own horn" - it's standard.



Yup, totally standard, and I think you did a good job of writing it. Whether its publication is going to cause you problems with the local weirdos wanting a free cupcake is another issue, and only you can know how likely that is in your small town (presumably you're only hoping for publication in your local paper).

FlowerGirlMN Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 8:07pm
post #23 of 37

I'm shocked at how little knowledge there is here about something as standard as a press release!

Haven't read through to the end yet, but I *HAVE* to address this.

As a press release, it's just fine. You do NOT write a press release in the first person, the whole point is to provide something that the news outlets could use just at face value (though they rarely - if ever - do that.

Now, as for the motivation / wiseness of doing this..

IMHO, it goes beyond getting paid. You're opening yourself up to an awful lot of hassle, doing what you're doing. Off the top of my head:

- Liability. I seriously doubt that your home insurance would cover you in the event someone gets sick (or just wants to make a quick buck off you!)

- Intent. You know, the appearance of impropriety is almost as bad as actual impropriety. I can understand where you're coming from, but I CAN see something like this getting people to talk - and not necessarily in a good way.

- Hassle. This will definitely put you on the health department's radar, whether you eventually go on to sell cakes legally or not. It does scream "ramping up to go legal", and I could see the health/ag dept(s) getting on your case if they think you're using it to slyly advertise under the table.


- Bad will with local businesses. Donating cakes is a source of advertising and tax write off to professional cake companies. You would be taking (at least some of) that away from them, without even having a business. You combine this with the assumption that you're either selling illegally on the side, or ramping up to go legal, and I can almost guarantee there will be bad blood.

Whatever floats your boat, I guess. I'm not trying to attack you, just pointing out a few considerations.

banananutmuffin Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 8:30pm
post #24 of 37

You know, when I told hubby that I wanted to do something charitable with my cake decorating hobby, he said "No good deed goes unpunished."

Such a shame that making a couple of cakes for charity bake sales could cause such a stink...

And no, I don't now--and never will--sell cakes... not even to family.

FlowerGirlMN Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 8:37pm
post #25 of 37

I hope you don't think I'm causing a stink. Your hubby is definitely right - but when a person comes up with a "great idea", it's really easy to avoid looking at the big picture.

I had assumed that you wanted honest answers when you posted your questions. Guess I fell for the "please tell me what I want to hear!" trap again.

FlowerGirlMN Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 8:41pm
post #26 of 37

Oh and fyi, the "combine this with the assumption" does not mean that *I* am assuming you're selling on the side. I'm fine with taking your word, as it really doesn't affect me.

Bakers and inspectors in your area are very likely to be a different story, and THAT is what I was warning about.

Deb_ Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 8:54pm
post #27 of 37

To the OP, first I'd like to say that I am very sorry about your Mom's passing and I think your idea is making her smile down on you.

Every state has different laws, heck they vary from county to county in the same state sometimes.

The best advice any of us can give to you is just call your local Health Dept., and tell them your idea. See what they suggest and get it in writing so you cover yourself.

You remind me a lot of me. I baked for free for over 20yrs until I got a licensed kitchen 4 yrs ago. I still keep cake orders to a minimum, it's my "therapy" that I happen to get paid for after a long day cutting hair. Anymore than that and it's not "fun" for me anymore, and I love it too much to give up that part of it.

I hope your dream can be fulfilled, you will certainly make a lot of people happy if you can go through with it!

Good luck!
Deb

banananutmuffin Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 9:02pm
post #28 of 37

Oh no, Flowergirl... I didn't mean you or any other poster was making a stink. It's just now that you guys have shown me some of the possibilities, I realize more about the potential stinky problems that might arise from charity baking, kwim?

Yeah, I definitely wanted honest answers. IF I do this, I want to go into it with my eyes open.

Carolynlovescake Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 9:44pm
post #29 of 37

I think it's a great idea.

My best advise, call your HD and ask them what you need to do this with in their guidelines. They can direct you from there.

Good luck with this adventure and I hope the best and that it works out for you.

CakeForte Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 10:24pm
post #30 of 37

To the OP....can you keep youridea and find a church or other non-profit that has a kitchen for you to use? That way you can get your legalities taken care of and still donate like you have intended?

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