Youth Ministry Outreach Idea: Cupcake Day

One of the most successful youth outreach ideas I’ve used is something we call Cupcake Day. Once a year, our ISCF (Inner-School Christian Fellowship) club at the local high school gives away hundreds of free cupcakes to the students and staff, all for FREE! It’s simple, fun, and reaches tons of people you’d never otherwise connect with. To get a better understanding of how it works, here is some of the details. Feel free to totally steal this idea or morph it into something of your own creation!

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Having a ridiculous amount of cupcakes is key to making this event successful. Most high schools have bake sales and things of that nature, but Cupcake Day must stand out! One important thing is that we’ve always made Cupcake Day totally free. We also make at least enough cupcakes to give one per student and staff. In order to make that happen, the church family needs to help out. We typically ask people in the church to donate baked, un-iced cupcakes for a specific day (usually two days before Cupcake Day). Then, the day before, we have the students ice them and add their own decorative touch. This system works well for a few reasons. One, baking about 1,000 cupcakes is really hard to do at one time, but if many families make 3 or 4 dozen it becomes more reasonable. Second, many church members want to support youth ministry but simply can’t. Yet virtually anyone can make cupcakes, so I have found that people support this event like crazy. It helps people feel like they are contributing (which they are), spreads the work around, and is cost-effective. A third reason it works is that having the students ice the cupcakes causes them to have some investment in the prep work, even if they didn’t bake them.

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We have found that the best place to have Cupcake Day is in the cafeteria. The first time we tried it, we had it in the room our ISCF group meets in (with the hope that people would easily remember where it is for the following week). What we found was that cupcake wrappers got EVERYWHERE, which made the custodial staff upset. Better to have it in the cafeteria where the mess is contained. It also makes the event more visible.

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Cupcake Day is always free but on one occasion we made available a donation jar. The money raised went to help support the 2 foster children our group has financially adopted. Most students didn’t donate but staff usually does. Again, this isn’t meant to be a fundraiser but an outreach, so making money isn’t all that important.

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Another twist you can add to this event is giving away something evangelistic in nature. In the past we have had the Gideon’s help us give away New Testaments, other times we gave out gospel tracts, and yet another time we gave away info cards about our group with an invitation to come to our next meeting. If you take the last approach, it’s good to have something specific and interesting you are inviting them to.

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One thing students regularly asked us was “Why are you doing this?” We would respond with simple answers like:

  • We just want to make the school a better place.
  • We are Christians who just want to share the love of God.
  • Because Jesus said we should love our neighbour…and who doesn’t like cupcakes?!

Make sure you share that the motivation for this event is love.

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One of the greatest challenges to Cupcake Day is transporting cupcakes from the church to the school. One thing that can make this easier is getting stackable boxes from local grocery stores. I have brought as many as 1,400 cupcakes in my small car by being strategic with packing them and living by the motto where there is a will, there is a way!

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In the end, all the hard work is worth it when you see so many people enjoying free cupcakes. It leaves a positive vibe in the school and helps share God’s love in a practical way. Try your own Cupcake Day and let me know how it goes!

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