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Focus on Fundraising:
Spring Clean Up - Garage Sale

by Deane Brengle

A garage sale is a great way to turn junk into money for your group. If you make this a yearly event it will grow in size (and money) every year.

To make your garage sale a successful one your group will need to make it as large as possible and promote it to the entire community.

Pick a date for your garage sale on a Saturday. Make sure there are no other large community events happening that weekend. Plan an alternate rain day if you plan to hold your event outdoors.

Pick a central location in your town that is on a well traveled road. A large parking lot of a professional building is ideal because they won't be using it on the weekend. Call and ask permission, then get it in writing. If you can secure an indoor location, all the better. A vacant building that is up for sale is ideal because you will be able to store items ahead.

Consider having light snacks and beverages available for purchase at your sale. Popcorn and bottles of soda pop are always favorites.

Check with city hall to see if you need any permits to hold your sale or serve food (if you're going to have a food booth).

Take ads out in community newspapers advertising the sale, place, date and alternate rain date (see if the paper will donate the ad space). Make large signs to mark the event site for the day of the sale.

Make two flyers. One advertising the event, date and place and asking for donations from the community is posted on bulletin boards in grocery stores and other stores that will allow it to be posted in their windows. List a number to call for pickup. Have a parent with a pickup truck volunteer to pick up donations and store them until the sale day. The second flyer goes home with your groups members asking for donations from their parents and for delivery on the morning of the sale.

Form a phone committee and divide your groups telephone list among them to phone. The first phone calls should be 4 weeks before the sale and then weekly until the sale date. Ask your groups members to start pricing items the week before the event. Keep your prices in $0.25 increments to keep making change easier.

Make signs for prices, hours, and parking.

Schedule your personnel. who will set up, who will put up posters, who will sell, who will handle money, who will work the food booth, who will settle disputes.

A couple of days before the sale have your groups treasurer get $50 in change ($1 bills and a roll of quarters).

The day of the sale start setting up at least an hour early. Have your members bring as many folding tables and saw horses with plywood as they can muster. Post your large signs identifying your sale and parking areas.

When someone is purchasing something for an odd dollar amount (.75, $1.50, $4.75), ask them to round up their bill to the next dollar and donate the change to your group.

One person should act as cashier at a time, unless the size of the sale calls for more than one for efficient service. The cashier should have a comfortable chair. Set up a table so you have somewhere to make change and for your customers to write checks.

When your sale ends arrange to have the Goodwill or Salvation Army pick up any unsold items. Make sure to remove all sales signs you posted.

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About the Author:

Deane Brengle is the editor of several free online publications that cover fundraising for small nonprofit groups. You can visit these publications and read more about fundraising in articles by him and other experts in the field at The Fund$Raiser Cyberzine, The Fundraising for Small Groups Newsletter, and Fundraising Booklets.

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