How to Hold a Fundraising Yard Sale to Raise Money for Your Nonprofit Organization


Are you looking for fundraising ideas for your nonprofit club, organization, school, or team? How about holding a yard sale?

Garage Sales, tag sales, rummage sales, yard sales. Whatever you call them in your part of the country, we’ve all been to them, and we all know that people love to find a bargain at a garage sale. Some nonprofit organizations hold a yearly “spring cleaning” garage sale. Or, your club could also hold a sale twice a year, one in the spring and then again in the fall. Members of your organization can save things all year long and accumulate lots of items to donate to the cause. Most members are usually very happy to get rid of their unneeded items.

Anyone who has ever conducted a garage sale knows that they require a lot of planning and labor but the rewards can be substantial. Your club should plan for it well in advance and allow about a month to gather all the donations and prepare for the sale.

Tips for a successful Fundraising Garage Sale

Before the Sale

Check with your city to find out if you need to have a permit to hold a garage sale. Ask if there are regulations concerning when and where you can place signs to advertise your garage sale. For example, some cities forbid placing signs on light poles.Announce the sale to the group. Tell them when and where it will be held and when and where to drop off donations. Decide on whether items will be priced by the person donating them or by the organiizers. Designate a person in charge of receiving the donations and choose a place to store the donations

Advertising – Plan your advertising well in advance in order to put classified ads in your local newspapers. Send press releases to your local newspaper and radio stations. Place flyers in public places such as grocery stores, libraries, bookstores, schools, and churches. The night before the sale place posters and signs on the street advertising your sale. Make sure you take down your signs and posters after the sale.Contingency Plans – It’s best to plan to hold the sale in any kind of weather. Try to hold the sale indoors or under tarps. You will have placed advertising and engaged the services of your volunteers for a specific day. If you have to cancel your sale because of weather you will have lost your advertising and your volunteers may not be available for a later date.

Pricing garage sale items – Pricing should be in round numbers. This will make pricing and selling much easier. You can buy pre-made pricing stickers at office supply stores or make your own on a printer. Generally speaking, items in good shape should be priced at one-third of their retail price. Of course there will be expections. For example, you might want to price hard cover books at $2.00 a piece no matter what the retail price was. Or, you may want to price CD’s, DVD’s, and tapes at $2.00 each. You should group like items together during the sale and sell them all for the same price unless otherwise marked.

Supplies needed – Tables, chairs, umbrellas, extension cords, clothes racks, boxes, plastic bags.

The Day of the Sale

Have as many volunteers on hand as possible. You will need people to help shoppers and keep things running smoothly. You’ll need people to take the money and provide security. You may want to offer to deliver items if your group has access to a willing person with a truck. Be aware that you will have “early birds” show up so try to be ready to sell up to one hour ahead of your advertised start time. In order to bring in drive-by traffic you can have volunteers hold up signs on nearby streets

Have a check-out table with chairs so that your volunteers can sit. At the table have plastic bags, boxes, scissors, a yard stick, measuring tape, and wrapping supplies such as newspapers. and tape Make sure that you have access to electricity so shoppers can test items. Display valuable items such as jewelry at the check-out table in order keep them from being stolen. You can use a cash box or fanny pack to hold the money. A fanny pack is recommended for security purposes. Make sure your money is never left unguarded. Have plenty of change in small bills at the beginning and throughout the sale. You will no doubt be receiving lots of twenty dollar bills. Take cash only, unless you are willing to take a check from a person who is known to you.

If the sale is being held at a personal residence take precautions against theft from shoppers. Never allow shoppers into the home and make sure outside items that are not for sale do not get stolen. Pets should be locked up also. As your cash builds up throughout the day take it inside to keep it safe.

Selling Tips to Maximize Your Sales and Raise More Money

Let your shoppers know that your yard sale is a fundraiser. Make sure your signs say what you are raising money for. You may want to make a display board at your check-out table the gives information about your organization and cause. Have your volunteers wear your club’s t-shirts or uniforms, if you have them, so shoppers will know who is working at the sale.

Decide in advance if you will bargain on prices. Expect that your shoppers will want to bargain. You may want to tell shoppers that you can’t lower prices until the afternoon. Let your shoppers know that your yard sale is a fundraiser and tell them how the money that the sale brings in will be used.

Additional Ways to Make Money During a Yard sale

Have a donation jar at your check-out table to collect donations.

Hold a raffle for a special item. You can display the actual item or a picture of the item you are raffleing. Sell tickets throughout the sale and have the raffle drawing at the end of the sale. Or, sell raffle tickets to a raffle that is ending at a later date.

Sell baked goods, hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, sodas, coffee, tea, bottled water, candy, etc.

Sell products your organization has produced such as cookbooks, calendars, CD’s, shirts or other spirit items.

Sell fundraising products such as cookie dough, candy bars, wrapping paper and more. There is a wide variety of items available from fundraising companies that nonprofit clubs and organizations can sell to raise money.

In addition to raising money, yard sales are a good way to raise raising awareness for your cause and nonprofit organization. Who knows, you might even recruit some new members during your yard sale.

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