A garage or yard sale can be a very effective way to fundraise. These tips can help make it a huge success.
The planning and organizing before the date of the garage sale are more important than anything you can do during the actual sale.
1. The first step in pulling off a huge garage sale fundraiser is gathering as many donations as possible. Ask everyone! Many people are eager to de-clutter their homes and are happy to support a good cause. Let them know exactly what the sale is raising funds for and also include the dates and times of the sale. This will promote the actual sale and spread the word that you are looking for donations of items. Use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to your advantage. Be sure to make it clear in your communication when and where items can be dropped off. Also, be sure to ask them to help you get the word out. Make up fliers and deliver them to houses in your neighbourhood. This will not only possibly increase the donations you receive, but will go a long way in creating tolerance during the day(s) of the sale if your neighbours know that it is a fundraiser.
2. When you are asking for donations, take this opportunity to also ask for volunteers to help during the sale. Have a sign-up sheet with different shifts listed. Be aware that the first day of the sale will likely be the day with the most traffic, so try to schedule the most volunteers for that day.
3. Consider your location. If you live in a high traffic neighbourhood with ample parking and have a large garage and yard, having the sale at your place is a viable option. If this is not the case, consider the option of phoning churches or community centres and asking them to donate space. It is most likely not worth the cost to rent a hall, but if you are not able to get space donated, a school or church may be willing to let you use their parking lot and you could rent a tent.
4. Borrow tables. If you are able to use a church or community centre, they may also have tables that you can use. If not, you will need to borrow tables from people you know or from local businesses or schools. Sketch out a rough map of the space you have, how many tables you will need, and what item categories will go on each table.
5. Using coloured paper and preferably typed print or very neatly printed in thick marker, label the sides of boxes with dollar amounts. As an example, one box should say “$1 each” while others say “25 cents each”, and “10 cents each”. Make other box labels more specific such as “Books $1 each” or “Toys 25 cents each” or “Stuffed Animals 50 cents each”. By preparing these boxes ahead of time, not only will things look more organized, but if people drop items off at the last minute, you will be able to easily put them in the appropriate box.
6. Price items as far ahead as possible. It is almost always a good idea to keep item prices low. You don’t want to end up having too much left at the end of the sale. Have a plan for what you will do with the leftovers. There may be a community charity that accepts donations where you can drop off any unsold items.
7. Set things up in a neat and organized fashion. This matters as people are likely to slow down and then drive on by if it looks disorganized or junky. This will also help your volunteers be able to easily find things. Group all the items for children together, all kitchen items together, sports equipments, movies, books, etc.
8. Create signs that clearly indicate where the money is going so that those who come to the sale will know that it is a fundraiser. In doing so, people will often pay the price asked instead of dickering, and many will tell you to keep the change if they know that the money is going towards a worthy cause.
9. If you are able to, display clothing on hangers on clothing racks or rods. Clothing in boxes or on tables does not sell as well. Many department stores have hangers that you can have at no charge, especially if you ask in the children’s clothing section.
10. Advertise well. There are many online sites such as Kijiji that allow you to advertise at no cost. Many newspapers charge to advertise in their print paper, but their online ads are often free. I would suggest that you do consider paying for one print ad in a local paper as it is usually worth the cost. Other ways of advertising include putting up fliers on public notice boards, using social media, and the most powerful one…word of mouth. Be specific in your advertising. Be sure to include the dates, times, location, cause, and what items will be for sale.
11. Signs. Good signs are the most critical part of any garage sale. Keep in mind that rain or strong winds can ruin a sign that is not made to withstand those elements. Use as many signs as you can to help people to find the location. Make them visible and clear and be aware of what your community’s sign laws are.
12. Be organized on the day of the sale. Many eager garage sales enthusiasts will arrive well before the scheduled opening time, so be prepared to start early. Weekdays, such as Thursdays, draw more of a crowd than weekends do in most areas. If possible, have the sale on more than one day. Be sure to have a float in order to be able to make change. Fanny packs work well for money, as then customers do not have to wait while you open a lock box. If you are having a concession, be sure that you have ice to keep the drinks cold in a cooler and that all the items are ready to go. Have a plan in case people ask you to put larger items on hold such as an area in the back where you can store them or SOLD signs that you can put on. Have extra pens, price stickers, a calculator, and paper.
At our first garage sale fundraiser to raise money for our adoption of two children from Ethiopia, many people (strangers) who came to the sale asked if they could drop off more items for us to sell. We held the sale over three days and ended up making signs that said “new items arriving daily” because of all the new donations that continued to be dropped off. People were so generous! Many people came every day to see what was new, so it worked out really well. We raised over $4,500 at the garage sale! A year later, we held another one to raise money for an Orphanage. We threw it together at the last minute and it was held in a much less populated area and we still managed to raise over $600!
A garage sale fundraiser is not only a great way to raise money for your adoption or for an Orphanage in the country your child is from, but also a great way to allow friends and family a way to get involved and a way to increase awareness about adoption and orphan care.
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Sharla Kostelyk is the mother of seven, two through the miracle of birth and five through the miracle of adoption. She is the author of a number of books and the founder of Adoption Magazine. You can find her blogging about life, homeschooling, special needs, food, and parenting at The Chaos and The Clutter.
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