When Emily Dubner was a kid, she took her school's bake sales seriously. She worked with her mother to prepare brownies and cookies from scratch, carefully packaging them for sale. And her efforts didn't end there. "I was usually the one running the bake sale, too," she says.
Last year, Dubner was visiting her parents when a package arrived at the door. A friend had sent a gift of baked goods. Seeing her mother's delight made Dubner think of how well received baked goods are as gifts. Then, an idea began to form.
"There's such a great tradition of using baked goods as a way to raise money," she says. "Since everything is online these days, I began to think about what a bake sale would look like if it was brought online."
It would look like BakingforGood.com, the company she founded in September, within a few months of her mother's special delivery. The concept is simple: Buy baked goods and support worthy causes.
Fifteen percent of every purchase (exclusive of shipping) goes to one of 100-plus nonprofits the buyer selects. Dubner expects those charitable contributions to add up to more than $20,000 by the end of the year.
Every few weeks, the site highlights new causes, making more people aware of them. In addition, Dubner says she welcomes suggestions from customers and will often add charities at their request.
Leaving a cushy management consulting job to become a fledgling online baker may seem half-baked, but Dubner had previously drafted a business plan for a storefront bakery--a plan she stashed away when the recession hit.
But the downturn made her prospects at the firm murky, and an online bakery requires much less overhead than a storefront. So Dubner acted on her idea. She partnered with a bakery in Hermosa Beach, Calif., that could handle the volume she anticipated--an impossible feat from the home base of her New York City apartment. And she's still using her treasured family recipes.
"I used my down time when traveling for my previous job to taste goods from bakeries around the country," she says. "The products from this baker were the most delicious I had tried."
The online bake sale (where the cost of a dozen cookies ranges from $14 to $35) has expanded to include customized cookies, snacks such as granola, caramel corn and cinnamon sugar pecans, allergen-free and gluten-free sweets and even a treat-of-the-month club that ships every 30 days.
"Baking is a dying art," Dubner says. "People are so busy. So, it's important for me to use this business to both make a difference and keep that alive."