Over the last thirty years, Church of the Rock’s Pie Auction has raised millions of dollars auctioning pies. Yes, Pies, and cakes too! Keep in mind that their very first pie auction was in 1997 and raised $800.
These sweet confections are baked with love and support projects in the 10/40 Window funding medical clinics, fighting malaria, healing burns, providing oral health and so much more while sharing the love of Jesus.
The recipe is much more than eggs, butter and sugar. It’s the people and the process behind collecting, auctioning, and delivering perishable goods in a twenty-four-hour period. After running the Pie Auction for 30 years Church of the Rock has this down to a precise process. Wendy Coker, auction accounting lead shares the behind the scenes for processing over 175 pies and desserts. This starts with being organized before, during and after the fundraiser and making it fun for both the bakers and the audience. They carefully plan for the process, and train and schedule volunteers to turn all this around in a matter of hours. Here are Wendy and the team’s tips so you too can raise money with pies.
- Planning for the incoming pies
- People & process
- Promotion before, during, and after
- Delivery of winning pies to winning bidders
Planning for the Incoming Pies
With hundreds of pies incoming the team likes to gather as much information as possible in advance. Using an online form they ask bakers to pre-register their intent to bake asking:
- Bake name and contact information
- Type of pie or cake
This information is imported into Auctria so on the day of the Pie Auction there is a record of the pie to build from. They will know how much room they need in the refrigerator for items that require refrigeration, they have an idea of what sold best last year and plan for which items will be auctioned off silently or online vs live from the stage.
Must have, is a Saskatoon Berry Pie. Wendy shares the Pie Auction must always include a Canadian prairie favorite Saskatoon Berry Pie. This pie alone will generate thousands of dollars. Because of the popularity, it will be auctioned off live with lots of bidders' enthusiasm.
Planning also includes a well-organized floor plan. Here is what the Church of the Rock created and implemented.
People and process
Intake Stations are Staffed and Trained. Because of the nature of baked goods, they arrive on the day the auction takes place to maintain freshness. They are auctioned off within hours so this means intake of the goodies needs to be organized and swift. Key roles are filled by staff to maintain consistency however volunteers by the dozen provide the leg work to make it all happen. They greet the baker, tag the pies, input the data and help with photos. Using the volunteers' knowledge of the audience helps maximize the auction income.
Photograph the pie. Not all pies are on display so photos need to showcase the pastry. Just because time is limited does not mean that photos are just thrown together. We eat with our eyes so several photos of each are shot. The desserts are displayed on a decorative cake plate, with a neutral background. At a minimum, a photo is taken from the side and overhead.
Triage the pie. As the pies come in they need to be triaged for holding temperature and auction type. Depending on the ingredients the deserts that require refrigeration will be marked as moved into cold storage. The pies vary from rustic and home made, to specialty.
There is a little for everyone. Here is just a sampling of the offerings:
Fresh Fruit Cheesecake
Carrot Cake Torte
Black Forest Torte
Carrot Cake Torte
Fresh Fruit Cheesecake
Triple Berry Cheesecake
Oreo Cookie Cake
Fit for a Queen - Opulent & Extravagant Carrot Layer Cake
Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake
Caramel Pecan Cheesecake
Deep Dish Apple Cinnamon Pie (Homemade)
Deep Dish Homemade Strawberry Rhubarb
Deep Dish Homemade Apple Cinnamon Crumble
Deep Dish Homemade Strawberry Rhubarb
Homemade Blueberry Pie
Deep Dish Blueberry Pie Joyful We Adore Thee
Really Tasty Blueberry Pie
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Homemade Cinnamon Buns with Vanilla Drizzle Icing
Niagara Peach Pie
Saskatoon Blueberry Pie
Triage for auction. In addition to temperature, the pies are cataloged for auction type - either Silent Auction where bidding is online or Live Auction in front of the sanctuary. Using past sales data and experience volunteers choose the most coveted pies to place in the live auction. This is where the Saskatoon Pie takes its righteous place. Alongside the sixty other decadent desserts.
Not all the pies are auctioned at one time. There are groupings for Saturday, Saturday night and Sunday morning. Each of these times are paired with service, sermon and pies!
Church of the Rock knows that in order to make the day run smoothly everyone needs to know their job with clear instructions. Their team trains volunteers and they pair up with prior volunteers in a mentor experience. In addition they conduct a mock auction during the day of training. Printed materials are provided to act as guide and step-by-step instructions. Everything is covered from receiving → bidding → payment.
Watch an example of the live pie auction here. Described as Burnt Basque Cheesecake is an alter ego to the New York-style cheesecake. A very light and a crustless cheesecake with a mixture of flavors that will surely delight your palate. From a burnt exterior that is a little caramelized to a sweet, creamy and custardy interior and with the berries adding a little tartness - this cheesecake will surely give you an explosion of combined flavors and texture.
This was a stage auction and sold for $1900. Watch the video here.
Promoting the Pie Auction
The Pie Auction has a reputation all on its own. After 30 years this is the event so many in the congregation look forward to annually. Some groups of friends and family will pool their bidding together and bid on a pie and enjoy them as a group or at a home party after winning.
The team does purchase a few fancy cakes, and a few cupcakes and cookies to sell for those that want to make a quick purchase. They also sell slices of pie served a la mode satisfying the need for immediate sweet tooth gratification.
The desserts are scrumptious however it is the cause that triggers huge final bids and donations. Promotion starts at the conclusion of the last auction. Sharing how much was raised and how the funds are being utilized.
The Pie Auction has its own section on the church website. On the page are current events showing how the funds are being spent. On the page alongside the text are short videos as well.
Recently updated are donations to Ukraine.
Thanks to your generosity during our recent Pie Auction events, we have already been able to forward $25,000 to Hungry For Life, and another $10,000 to Tearfund, both working in Ukraine!
Hungry For Life is working with several local churches to build a team in western Ukraine which is receiving and caring for thousands of refugees coming from the east and the capital city of Kyiv. They are providing the basic necessities for thousands of people by purchasing food, mattresses, bedding and hygiene products, and providing interim shelter and accommodations for fleeing refugees. Their current response phase includes warehouse distribution centres in both western and central Ukraine and a fleet of vehicles to distribute aid to both refugees in the west and affected people in the war zones areas in the east.
Tearfund is an international Christian relief and development agency based in the U.K. It currently works in around 50 countries, including Ukraine, with a primary focus on supporting those in poverty and providing disaster relief for disadvantaged communities. In Ukraine they are partnering with local churches to provide families with emergency housing and supplies such as blankets and food.
The mission is the Promotion. This is part of the broader work that Church of the Rock is doing to support the 10/40 Window.
Special thanks to Wendy Croker, CPA, CGA, Church of the Rock, Accounting Manager, and Pie Accounting Auction Lead. To learn more about Church of the Rock click here. To learn more about the Pie Auction click here.