As a business that touches so many lives, carwash companies have the opportunity to celebrate their success and give back to their local communities with fundraising events. Many charities and nonprofit organizations use carwashes to raise money for local causes, and you’re perfectly positioned to partner with them.
However, it’s also a great idea for your business to spearhead its own fundraiser. Here are five steps you can take to brainstorm and put on a successful fundraising event at your carwash.
Choose a cause
The first step toward organizing your fundraiser is to find a cause you want your business to support. The options are limitless — you could donate to an environmental organization, send funds to a center that helps refugees, give to a local homeless shelter or raise money for a substance abuse rehabilitation center, as examples.
The best charity or cause to focus on depends on your business’ unique values, employees and location.1 For a consistent marketing message, choose a charity that aligns with one of your core values and makes sense with your brand. For example, a carwash in Kentucky that uses a horse logo could fundraise for a charity that rehabilitates former racehorses.
In order to get your employees involved, pick a range of options and then choose the winning cause by a vote. Choosing a local cause is usually best because it connects with community members, and you’ll raise more over the duration of the fundraiser.
Some carwashes offer free services in response to a sudden need, such as the passing away of a valued citizen or family member. Ask yourself what problems you see or hear about in your community and then find a charity working to meet that need locally. After you’ve committed to a cause, you can find ideal partners for your event.
Look for partners
You don’t have to have partners to hold a successful carwash fundraiser. For example, some carwashes hold fundraising events where they wash cars for free in exchange for a charitable donation. Others may donate 100% of the carwashing proceeds to a charity or a local family in need.
You can spice up your event without a partner by selling car-friendly snacks as part of the fundraiser. Consider your demographic and offer beef jerky, lollipops and chocolate bars, depending on your customer base. Another option is to set up an ice cream sundae station for customers to patronize while their cars are being washed.
However, working with a partner is a great way to bring in more donors and reach a high fundraising goal. Reach out to local businesses that serve a similar customer base and see if they would be willing to coordinate with you to raise money for your cause. For example, the auto refinancing company RefiJet partnered with a nonprofit called Protect Our Town to donate soup to needy families.2
Another example is partnering with a local salon for a fundraising event where people can get two chores done at once — washing the car and getting a haircut. You could also host a one-time farmer’s market in your parking lot so patrons can wash their cars and grocery shop at the same time.
Market your event
Although some donors will come to your event through word of mouth, the best way to ensure a good turnout is by implementing a solid marketing plan. As soon as you know the basics about your event, you should start posting about it on your social media accounts. A good time frame for this is at least four weeks out from your event.
As you get closer to the big day, you should post more frequently so customers remember it’s happening soon and can make concrete plans to come. Of course, it’s important not to annoy customers with too many notifications and announcements.
In addition to posting on social media, you can also send emails to customers who are part of your loyalty program or on a membership plan. Emails are incredibly effective because they’re professional, don’t get lost like paper flyers and can be tailored for individual customers.3
You should also take out advertisements in local newspapers. However, before you invest too much in advertising, think about your customer base and strategically post your content on platforms they regularly check. For example, older customers might read the paper and use Facebook, while younger customers prefer platforms like Instagram and TikTok.
Plan the logistics
Your next step is to ensure all the details are ironed out before the day of your event. The success of your event partially depends on the weather, since fewer people are likely to come out if it rains or the temperature drops drastically. Make sure you have a backup date in case the weather decides to surprise you.
To ensure you have everything you need, think through each element of your fundraiser. Do you have enough supplies to cover washing a higher number of cars than usual? How many employees will be helping out? Do you have snacks and drinks to carry your employees through the day? What about sunscreen?
If you’re partnering with another organization, they’ll bring everything they need to complete their part in the fundraiser. However, you may want to buy snacks for them as well or set up a tent to create some shade in your parking lot. Other supplies you might need include donation buckets and any special decorations or costumes.
Good signage is also essential for a successful event. Ideally, your carwash is located by a main road where it’s visible to many potential donors. If your business is more out of the way, you’ll want to post signs that help people Mfind you on the day of the event. Bright colors, bold fonts and simple messaging are most effective.
Make it fun
Although planning a fundraiser is a lot of work, your event should also be a lot of fun. The more fun you have with it, the more excited your employees will be and the more people will want to come. Adding food, decorations and games can take your fundraiser to a whole new level.
If the majority of your customers have kids, rent a bounce house or create a gigantic hopscotch on the pavement for families to play in while their cars are cleaned. You can also offer free candy or partner with kid-friendly businesses, like an ice cream store or toy shop.
An older demographic may enjoy a vintage car show.4 Contact as many local people with vintage cars as you can and have them park their vehicles in your lot for display during the event. Choosing a theme like “vintage” can make your fundraiser feel more cohesive, give you direction for choosing partner organizations and attract more donors.
You could also incorporate a contest to get donors excited about your event. For example, you could hold a race to emphasize how quickly your business washes cars. You could also organize gift card prizes for the winners to bring them back to your carwash later.
Impact your community
Holding a fundraising event is a fantastic way to make a difference in your local community while forging a stronger relationship with your customers. It will also help your employees bond and feel good about where they go to work each day.
Use these five steps to hold a fundraising event at your carwash that’s wildly successful and brings value to your community. Although planning a fundraiser takes time and thought, it’s well worth the effort to connect with your local area and demonstrate your core values with meaningful action.
Oscar Collins is the founder and editor-in-chief of Modded, where he writes about cars, car trends and auto news. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for frequent updates on his work.