Special events: April 2010 Archives

April 30, 2010

Fundraising Bake Sales: Beware the Cream Pie!

Is it my imagination, or was there a lot less regulation of bake sales when I was a kid?

I've been noodling around the Internet, and a surprising number of cities and counties -- from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois to Lewiston, Maine -- require nonprofit groups (and others) to get a permit before holding a bake sale.

Not all areas charge for the permit, and the majority still let you go ahead without one. But even the no-permit areas are paying increasing attention to the health issues surrounding selling food to the public, and expect bake sales to comply. And I wouldn't want to be the group that makes the paper because of a "permit bust" or a Salmonella outbreak.

Who knew that the humble cream pie was such a villain? I'm seeing it over and over again, on everyone's "DO NOT SELL!" list even for groups that have a permit. Apparently all the milk and eggs make a lovely recipe for not only custard, but for bacterial growth when left outside a refrigerator.  

In the absence of any national rules, here's what I'd suggest if you're planning a bake sale:

  1. Call your local health or food service department to find out the permit and any other rules. Follow them.
  2. Take your own steps to avoid being the cause of health problems, such as reminding your bakers to be extra careful about cleanliness in the food prep process, wrapping or covering everything in plastic at the sale, and serving with tongs.
  3. Ask bakers to create labels with full and accurate lists of ingredients, in case buyers have allergies. (Peanuts, wheat, and dairy are common concerns.)
  4. Whatever you do, don't serve cream pies. Or pumpkin, or meringue.
How did we all survive childhood, I wonder?

April 16, 2010

Fundraising Kudos to: Lawrence Hall of Science

The Lawrence Hall of Science, in the hills above the UC Berkeley campus, is known primarily as a place to take your kids to learn about math and science. So you've got to hand it to whoever there thought up "Geek Out Night," their new-ish monthly event where adults can mingle, meet scientists, play with the exhibits that are usually surrounded by a crowd of kids, and visit a cash bar.

It's not an event that every nonprofit can repeat -- but worth noting is how the organization took its existing assets and found a new (and fun) way to use them, reaching a different audience.

Too bad I missed the one where you bring in your broken old electronics (toasters, DVD players, etc.) and their experts helped you take it apart, put it back together, and see if you could make it work!