Silent Auction Cake?

Decorating By Debbye27 Updated 13 Mar 2012 , 7:15pm by cakesbycathy

Debbye27 Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 2:58pm
post #1 of 16

I recieved a voicemail asking me to promote my new business by donating a cake for a fundraiser for a private school's silent auction.
Back when I was practicing cakes in October, I donated a cake to my friend's office who works for the New York State Office of the Prevention of Domestic Violence. This call was from my friends boss, who loved the cake, and she wants me to promote at her son's private school, either with this cake for the auction or by handing out cookies in March. (funny, b/c I was not happy with the had major bulging issues, but it was a practice one)

I haven't responded to her message yet, but wanted to get some advice so I sound professional. Has anyone ever donated a cake to a silent auction before? What kind of cake would they be expecting, like how big? I would love the oppurtunity to try out new techniques, and don't mind the expense, but I do have a small thought in the back of my mind that most businesses don't give out free cake. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

By the way I am not 100% in business yet (I mean I do have a local commercial kitchen that I can use, but I really do this on the side and work a full time job for the state for now). I am not ready to do the total transition, I don't have the confidence or experience yet, I've only been decorating for 4 months. But I still take orders, I'm just super slow with everything, I learn a lot from this site and youtube.

15 replies
kweenofengland Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 4:16pm
post #2 of 16

I have donated several cakes to a cake auction. one popular thing i have found is to make a flyer with some of your work on it and donate a cake when they want a cake. I list my name, number and give an expiration date and tell them that i need 2 week minimum notice. This has worked better for me than to make a cake because some people don't need a cake for that day. It is better for a day that they can actually use a cake. i also list the # of servings i am willing to make the cake for because you could be willing to donate a 35 person cake and someone requests a 100 person cake.
One friend of mine made a "hamburger" cake for an auction and it went really high. She also made for my church auction a "turkey" cake which was around thanksgiving, but it did not do as well. Dependent on the time of year, you can make a cake that would be appropriate to have at a holiday event if the auction is close to that event, but its probably not likely. we always did our auctions the Saturday before Thanksgiving and alot of people wanted cakes to serve at family gatherings, cakes like Italian Cream or coconut cakes. i prefer themed cakes myself and have resorted to doing the fliers for the auction. Hope this helps. If you send me your email address i could even send you a copy of the flyer that i make for our auctions if i can find it so you can have an idea.

Debbye27 Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 4:33pm
post #3 of 16

thanks, I am sending you my address!

Amberwaves Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 6:31pm
post #4 of 16

I own a bakery and get a ton of requests for donations for different events. I have figured out that the best sellers for the auction are the delicious looking cakes.

It is tempting to make some fancy, eye popping creation, but it has been my experience that the ones that bring in the most money are the German Chocolate, Black Forest, Lemon chiffon or Ganache covered homemade type cakes that someone can buy and serve for dessert.

The fantastic creations certainly wow everybody and take a ton of your time and materials, but they don't always end up as the high seller and that is the whole purpose of the event. JMO.

Debbye27 Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 6:52pm
post #5 of 16

thanks for the tip! I was thinking of trying my hand at a simple but elegant design- maybe a rosette covered cake....

kweenofengland Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 6:54pm
post #6 of 16


I agree with you! I would have several different types of cakes at our auctions and those are the ones that brought in the most money for us as well.

Sissy_Cakes Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 6:58pm
post #7 of 16

I donate cake items to my civic club's auction. The first year I did so, I brought a finished cake and also brought a "gift certificate" for a cake for that the person could pick the design and date. The gift certificate details what size of cake would be provided (I offered a 6" and 9" tiered cake) or a small carved cake. I give an estimate as to the serving size. Also included on the gift certificate are pictures of my cakes to show them my skill level and give them an idea of what type of cake they would receive.

The gift certificate brings in a lot more money. Bringing a finished cake only works if there is an immedate need for a specialized cake. If the auction is close to a major holiday, it might work. If not, I would go the gift certificate route. You could maybe even include a box of cupcakes??? with the gift certificate to get everyone attention.

Debbye27 Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 7:52pm
post #8 of 16

"You could maybe even include a box of cupcakes??? with the gift certificate to get everyone attention."

Very good idea!!

cdgleason Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 8:19pm
post #9 of 16

I donate dummy cakes to charity auctions a couple times a year, and I have ONE cake that I use, (it's the 3 tier, pink cherry blossom cake in my photo stream) along with a nicely worded information card next to the cake that explains that "this cake is a dummy cake and it's just an example of what you can get if you win the auction".
I add more information about 'the winner of the auction will receive a two tier cake that will feed @ 40 people, chocolate or vanilla, covered in fondant, decoration/ theme will be decided by the winner and planned along with the cake decorator". I failed to put an expiration date on the last one I donated, which I regret, but I will do that for future donations. When the aution is over, I take the cake back home and store it safely in the dark basement until the next charity event!

kweenofengland Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 8:47pm
post #10 of 16

I like the dummy cake idea better than the cupcakes, cause as one who organizes and bids in these type of silent auctions, i think the cupcakes could be confusing. someone might think they are bidding on "cupcakes" only and no one sees that the actual auction is for something much better. it could get overlooked and under bid. If the dummy cake had a sign actually sticking out of the cake or something that clearly says "this is an example cake" then that would get attention and give an idea of your work as well.

cdgleason Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 8:54pm
post #11 of 16

kweenofengland, I've done that many times, and it's always been well received. I even included a sign that says "please don't touch" but of course, someone pinched the edge of the cake....putting a huge dent in the cake!!!
I didn't complain too much because I could imagine my 80 year old grandmother touching/pinching something like that to see if it's real!!

lisa198107 Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 9:22pm
post #12 of 16

I agree with several of the posts here. I donated a cake last year and made a dummy cake as an example, I made a large board that showcased previous cakes and then made a gift voucher for a cake that people bidded on. The voucher specified that the cake would be made to the value of the final auction (ie - if auction only went to $30 then I would donate cupcakes, etc) IF people wanted a bigger cake they could donate more to the charity. I didn't want the charity to lose out. I made the mistake of not blacking out specific dates and the woman who won the auction ended up wanting it right before Christmas which was a crazy busy time for me but it all worked out in the end.

Johnica10 Posted 25 Feb 2012 , 12:31am
post #13 of 16

kweenofengland - would you please be so kind as to email me a copy of the flyer you use as well?
[email protected]

thanks in advance

scp1127 Posted 25 Feb 2012 , 12:50am
post #14 of 16

My daughter attends a small private prep school and it was how I got my start. Everyone there is your potential customer because of the income level. Ironically, three of the about six bakeries in town have a tie to that school and there is plenty of work to go around.

Make sure you have a stand for business cards. Samples would be nice. A small cake to auction plus a gift certificate would be the best of both worlds side-by-side. I would always have a sample there. Some people will not bid on either, but it is your opportunity to get your product to a great target market.

I will say that all three bakeries associated with the school are upscale using IMBC and great scratch recipes. I'm not sure how box mix and shortening frosting would do in that scenario.

tavyheather Posted 13 Mar 2012 , 2:36am
post #15 of 16
Originally Posted by Debbye27

"You could maybe even include a box of cupcakes??? with the gift certificate to get everyone attention."

Very good idea!!


cakesbycathy Posted 13 Mar 2012 , 7:15pm
post #16 of 16

I would go with the dummy cake for display and then a sheet that VERY CLEARLY spells out what the winner gets.
Something like:
"The winner receives a 2 tier cake to serve 40. Choice of (x amount of flavors). A minimum of 2 weeks notice is required and redemption is based on availability. Delivery is not included and will incur an additonal charge. Certificate may not be redeemed for cash and no substitutions or upgrades are available."

Make sure there is an expiration date on the certificate. Also put the value of the certificate. If you would normally charge $200 for the cake, make sure you it's on there.

YOU set the terms of certificate, based on the amount of work YOU are willing to do.

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