The free car wash

In my opinion this is the best fundraising idea out there. The idea is to hold a free car wash. There’s no catch to that, it’s totally free and you do not ask for donations. You wouldn’t raise nearly as much money if you just asked for donations.

The Car Wash

Enlist about 20 people to participate in the free car wash. The whole group will participate in washing every car. Someone sprays the car with a hose, someone washes the right fender, someone the left fender, someone washes the hood, and so on. Assign a different job to each of the 20 people so every single person has a role to play in washing every single car.

Be warned: if you think you can just hold up a sign saying “Free Car Wash” and people will flock in, you are sadly mistaken. People will think there’s a catch and they will not come in. You need some outgoing member of your group to approach people as they are parking or getting into their cars. Assure them that people have already sponsored you and it is absolutely free. Tell them they would be doing your group a big favour by letting you wash their car for free. That works 80% of the time.

Ideally your car wash location will be fairly close to a mall or downtown area for this reason. You can also call up people you know or who have sponsored you and ask them to bring their car in for a wash. This is best done before the car wash itself to save time as you should be done washing 20 cars in less than 2 hours.

Getting Sponsors
In the time (days, weeks) leading up to the date of the car wash, each of the 20 participants takes a sheet of paper and contacts friends, family, neighbours, co-workers, etc. asking them to sponsor them. The sponsor agrees to pay some amount for every car the participant washes. You can tell them there will be a limit like say 20 cars so if they agree to pay you 25 cents per car their total donation will be just $5. Of course if they want to sponsor you for 50 cents or more per car, by all means take it but, in my experience, if you suggest a particular figure you will get it, whereas if you don’t suggest a particular figure you will only get a total of about $2 per sponsor.

You just say something like, “Hey John, my church group is raising funds for a trip. We’re holding a free car wash. Would you be willing to sponsor me? Any amount is fine but most people give 25 cents for every car I wash. I’ll wash 20 cars so that’s a total of $5 you’d be giving. Does that sound ok?”

They might remark that $5 to wash 20 cars isn’t very much. You can answer by telling them that they are welcome to sponsor you for more than 25 cents per car. You can also tell them that you won’t be the only one washing the cars and that other people will be getting their own sponsors too.

Be sure to write down who has agreed to sponsor you and for how much. Many will just give you the total amount right then and there so be sure to keep track of who paid and who didn’t.

Always invite your sponsors to come get their own car washed but warn them to come early so they don’t miss out. Most will not bother but it’s nice to offer.

So let’s take a look at the numbers. If 20 people have each obtained 20 sponsors at 25 cents per car and each person takes part in washing all 20 cars you get:

20 people x 20 sponsors x $0.25 x 20 cars = $2,000. Now how else can you raise $2,000 that easily?

1. If you have some way of carrying water you could make this a mobile car wash and knock on doors or spot people in their yards and ask them if they will do you a favour and let you wash their car as part of a fundraising project. Assure them that people have already sponsored you and it is absolutely free.

2. Instead of a car wash, organize it around a spring cleanup of people’s yards (older people?) or streets (so many kilometres of a long road or several smaller streets).

3. Do it for leaf raking in the fall. Seniors or public areas.

4. Do it for snow shoveling in the winter. Have a bunch of people lined up who have agreed ahead of time to let you shovel their driveway after the next snow storm. Or just drive around at a convenient time for your group shortly after a snowfall and spot uncleared driveways and volunteer.