Let Them Eat Cake…and Raise Money Too!

Premium Dessert Frenzy Heats Up Your Benefit Auction Bottom Line!

With holiday spirit, our thoughts often turn to desserts. Did you know that decadent desserts can bake up some serious revenue at your next charity auction? Pop a Premium Dessert Frenzy into your fundraising auction oven. Here’s my favorite charity auction recipe for more fun and profit.  Read on and learn how to turn a homemade pumpkin pie into hundreds – even thousands of dollars for your nonprofit cause.

Kingston Trio of Benefits

When I’m consulting with a nonprofit or school, I point out this type of fun revenue generating activity has three key benefits, which I call the “Kingston Trio.”  First, it is highly Interactive – it’s fun and stirs energy in the audience.  Second,  it is Inclusive  – all of your guests can bid because it’s started at a low price point at which everyone can get in on the fun and bidding. Third, it’s Income-Producing.

An interactive fundraising game like Premium Dessert Frenzy teaches your guests the all important charity auction philanthropy lesson: “It’s not what you get that matters, it’s how much you can give to make a difference.”  So get ready to raise some serious dough with just a few delectable desserts at your next benefit auction!

How does the Premium Dessert Frenzy work?

Several months prior to your auction event, solicit two to three fabulous donated desserts – the more creative, the better. During the Live Auction your auctioneer auctions each premium dessert quickly in succession to each highest bidder. Even though all your guests are served the regular dessert, the winning bidder can enjoy their Premium Dessert at their table or take it home with them.

Premium Dessert Frenzy is a blast, it’s like a bake sale on speed!

Premium Dessert Ideas Are Bountiful

Here are some ideas: mmm…can you taste a ten-layer “death-by-chocolate” cake, or a theme dessert such as a two-foot cake of the Eiffel Tower for the Evening in Paris Gala Auction, or a creatively decorated cake covered with the Autism Speaks logo at the Nashoba Learning Center auction, or a signature Tiramisu make by a beloved volunteer. What would you bid to win your weight in chocolate complete with a wheel barrel full of beautifully-wrapped chocolates.  Get super creative!

How Much Can You Raise?

At the Community Connections benefit auction in Cape Cod, I sold the most amazing eight layer coconut cake ever made by board member Richard Johnson. It weighed a ton because it was loaded with butter.  At the auction, it brought $270, and the table that won it was ecstatic.  After it was delivered to their table, they started enjoying it.  Then, the backup bidder said, “Hey, I’ll give you $270, if I can have just one piece.”  The crowd went crazy!  It was loads of fun.  How about $550 for 3 vials of chocolate foam:  white, milk, and dark chocolate.  Cha-Ching! Oh, what about that Eiffel Tower cake? Our professional auctioneer June DeLair dropped the hammer at $700 at the Dream Come True Auction in Connecticut– O La La!

How Many Desserts?

I find that two or three premium desserts is just enough, because you want to stir up fast and furious bidding. The key is to start the bidding low, like at a few dollars and rapidly increase the bidding to a frenzy! Your auctioneer can sell two or three desserts in the span of time you usually spend on one regular Live Auction item, which is about two to three minutes.

Avoid This #1 Mistake

First, never display the premium desserts at the auction. Hide them. Why? Guests and volunteers actually eat them. Yikes! They think it is a buffets.  One time, at an auction in New York, I said, “Now, it’s time for premium dessert frenzy.”  I was just about to have volunteers come out with three lovely desserts, and suddenly they said, “Kathy, go to the next item.  We can not do it.”  Perplexed, I said, “Why?”  She said, “Well, they are gone. Someone ate all the Premium Desserts — everyone thought they were a buffet.”  The lesson learned is that, whether you display them in the auction display area or behind the scenes, it is open season on your desserts.  So, have a volunteer guard your desserts. The premium auction dessert is fun, and everyone gets into it and some maybe more than others — protect your premium desserts!


In terms of volunteers, you need to have one volunteer for each premium dessert to lovingly display and carry each dessert to the stage. Create a little parade of these volunteers and bring them out on stage. Add some music and have fun.  Do not have them parade around the room, but stay up on stage.  Then feature each dessert individually and ask your auctioneer to describe them and the ingredients and of course to profusely thank each dessert donor! Some of these scrumptious desserts really take hours to create — give lots of recognition!

Time for Premium Dessert Frenzy

The best time is right before you bring out the dessert.  Be strategic about when you serve dessert.  Make sure that you have the Fund an Need and the majority of Live Auction completely raised before you bring out dessert.  It is very important to tell your guests before you start the Live Auction not to worry, and that everyone will get dessert.  Explain that the premium dessert frenzy is another way have a lot of fun and to raise money for the organization’s cause.

So, if you are looking to create excitement, fun and engage all of your guests to keep those bid cards waving, look no further. A Premium Dessert Frenzy is just one of the fresh ideas I highly recommend to add a new income stream to your benefit auction.

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