Car Wash Fundraising

How to Run an Easy, Profitable Carwashing Fundraiser for Your Church

If it's summer time and the weather is warm, that means one thing -- people are ready to hit the road! Vacationers abound, travelers are plentiful, and traffic is at its high point for the year. It's the perfect time for your church or religious group to stage a carwash fundraiser! With some careful planning, great volunteers, and these helpful tips, your organization can make thousands of dollars with just a few weeks of work.

Planning Your Carwash Fundraiser
When planning your carwash, try to start about six weeks in advance. This will give you plenty of time to coordinate with your volunteers and to figure out the best way to sell your event to the public. However, if you need money fast, not to worry -- you can pull off a successful carwash far more quickly. Just shorten your timeline and keep your lines of communication clear.

Depending upon how much money you'd like to raise, you'll need anywhere from five to twenty volunteers on the day of your carwash, and potentially many more (how many more will be determined by the type of carwash you decide to run). When choosing volunteers, look for people who are strong, motivated workers -- those who will be enthusiastic about the carwash event, which is generally a lot of fun. Summertime carwashes are pretty much guaranteed to be a blast, as long as your volunteers don't mind getting wet!

And, speaking of getting wet, be sure to set a rain date for your event, in case the weather isn't in the mood to cooperate. We recommend making this date about a month after your initial date -- that way, if the weather is nice and you'd like to raise more money for your organization, you can hold a second carwash on your backup date!

In order to run a successful carwash fundraiser, you'll need to take care of the following tasks:
  • Administrating: somebody needs to be in charge, making sure the members of the team are communicating with one another and that everything is progressing according to the proper timeline.
  • Advertising: you'll need a volunteer to take care of spreading the word for your event. This person will call local newspapers to place the event in the community calendar, contact radio stations to arrange for public service announcements, create signs for the day of the carwash, etc.
  • Location: you should have your site locked in about three weeks prior to your carwash. Look for a gas station or a parking lot in a visible, high traffic area. The person responsible for location will need to explore insurance options, and will also be in charge of a thank you for the location's owner when the event is over.
  • Supplies: buckets, sponges, brushes, hoses, soaps, waxes, window cleaner...you name it! Anything and everything that you'll need for your carwash should be gathered up a week prior to the event. In case anything has been forgotten, this leaves you plenty of time to go and get it before the big day. The person responsible should also monitor supplies for low levels on the day of the drive.
  • Tickets and Pledges: depending upon the type of carwash you're running, this person will be in charge of coordinating volunteers and keeping track of tickets distributed, pledges collected, and moneys gathered. He or she will also be responsible for printing tickets and pledge sheets, which should be simple, clean, and informational -- tickets, in particular, should contain little more than the location, date, time, and price of the carwash, in addition to the name of your church or religious group.
  • Cleanup: after the drive, you'll want to leave the location you've used spic-and-span. This person can also take care of writing thank you's to other people who may have contributed time or money to your fundraising effort.
Obviously, these jobs need not all be done by different people, but it does help to share the load of responsibility. People are at their best when they have just enough to do.

What Kind of Carwash?
Though it's possible to run a successful carwash fundraiser strictly on drive-up traffic, there are a number of ways to help you maximize your profit. Consider pre-selling tickets with your volunteers at five dollars a pop. Generally speaking, about eighty percent of the people who buy these tickets will not show up for the carwash, which means less work for you, and far greater returns.

Another incredibly lucrative form of the carwash involves a pledge drive beforehand. Your volunteers will gather pledges from a penny and up for each car that gets washed on the day of the drive. Then, rather than charging a specific price per car, you'll wash them all for free! This will give you at least as much traffic as you can handle, and can produce enormous returns with the right volunteers -- cute children often garner the best responses.

Try to get everyone who's volunteering to secure between fifty and sixty pledges. For potential contributors who would rather make a flat rate donation, have a separate sign-up sheet handy, so these folks don't put others off from pledging, which is really a much better way to raise large amounts of money for your church. If you've got fifty volunteers who each manage to get pledges per car totaling one dollar, and you end up washing two hundred cars, you'll have grossed ten thousand dollars in one afternoon!

The Day of the Wash
Finally, the big day is here! Keep the hours you run your carwash to a minimum -- 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. is a great range for which to aim. You'll catch morning traffic and the heat of the day, when people are most likely to want to be around sprays of water. It will also keep your volunteers from becoming too pooped to work effectively.

If you've got lots of volunteers, you might consider dividing them into teams for morning and afternoon work, so that everyone is smiling, friendly, and at their best. With careful planning and the right attitude, your church fundraising carwash is sure to be a smashing success!

Written by: Bob Robertson