Tips to Help Car Wash Fundraising Events

By Lance Winslow
There are always miscellaneous things that no one thinks about at fundraising events. Car wash fundraisers are no different. Having personally run over 100 car wash fundraisers for non-profit groups over the years I think it might be wise to give you some insight to help you with your next car wash fundraiser event.


If the media shows up act uninterested and start talking to customers when they arrive. Pretend that you are very busy and stand near the wash area. If they get a really good picture youíll better your chances of not getting cut in case a late breaking story takes precedence. Itís important that they get a picture of members of your group actually washing a car. Also interviews of customers saying how great this event is. That is good positive news and you know we need more of it.

As soon as they take pictures and interview your customer(s) discreetly walk away to the donation can area. This is where one of your people is talking to customers about how great your group is. Stand there and the reporter will begin asking questions. Tap them on the shoulder and say "Wait one second, our cars are backing up." Then briskly walk to the far side of your car wash. The reporter will then have no choice but to interview your donation person and another customer. By this time the story will be getting big with great quotes and information about your club. When they finally talk to you (the person in charge) give them a great quote about what great team work and how thankful you are for all the generous people. Bingo! Youíre in. Everyone will read that story and next yearís car wash will be great plus this publicity will unite your group and make other fundraisers easier to get sponsors for.

If a radio station comes by let them interview the kids in the group and the adults with the most energy. They will easily draw additional people to your event.


If you are doing a wash-a-thon car wash you must count the exact number of cars so you know how much to collect from your pledgers. We have two sheets in the Appendix Section of this book that you might want to use. For whoever counts cars, this will be their only job. Donít let them get side tracked or help you wash vehicles when you busy or someone needs to run to the bathroom. In cases of large groups every car missed could be $100 or more in missed revenue. If you have a member of your group in a wheel chair, this might be a good job for them. Make sure that whoever does this job realizes how important it is.


I donít recommend vacuuming cars unless you have a lot of extra people to do the work. Youíll also need a lot of extra room. Vacuuming takes a long time and once you start youíre committed to vacuum everyoneís car that wants it. Youíll get mini-vans with Christmas tree pine needles from two years past and customers who expect every needle removed. Whatever you do, if you decide to provide vacuuming do it after the car wash not before. Also do it out of the way so the wash only customers can leave otherwise you will create an incredible bottleneck when you get to that mini-van I mentioned.

If you vacuum you will also be expected to clean the inside windows. Again, more people will be needed for that. If you vacuum youíll need an electrical outlet. If you only have two outlets and you have a P.A. system, that means only one vacuum can be used even though you will probably need three. Use shop vacuums not house vacuums. Your groupís members will not appreciate getting their house vacuum back all bent up or not working at all. Do not run three vacuums and a P.A. system on one electrical outlet. Youíll blow a fuse. And then have no power. If you are at a gas station, then the owner or manager of the station will be upset at having to reset the circuit breaker every fifteen minutes. You may destroy your chances for another car wash there in the future. If you run a P.A. next to a vacuum, the vacuum noise will drive you nuts and you canít hear yourself talk. When you have to adjust the P.A. system too much you will get a screeching sound.

Remember if youíre limited on space forget the vacuuming. If you bring a vacuum just in case someone may request or demand a vacuum, then you will end up vacuuming and once you vacuum one car youíll end up doing more. So decide before the event whether or not you will vacuum. If you decide to vacuum make sure you can vacuum three cars at once and have room for five cars to wait.

If you vacuum the cars the day of the event you will need to add to your list of supplies:

Three 25 foot or longer extension cords - Find the outlet before the event. You may need longer extension cords.

Three (or more) shop vacuums

Three extra window cleaner bottles

Carpet brush

Carpet spot remover

You will also need another supervisor so no customers attempt to accuse your crew of having items missing from their car, it happens even in smaller communities. The customer leaves their mobile phone at home, forgets and all of a sudden one of your kids is called a thief and when they of course deny it they are called a thief and a liar? Sometimes you just canít win, so be aware of these things and have supervision around the vacuum area if you are sure you wish to do this.

I hope I have helped clear up some of the miscellaneous things you have not considered, do think on these items. Remember the Devil is in the Details and Murphy may pay an unexpected visit to your car wash fundraiser this time around.

Lance Winslow IV

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Car Wash Fundraising Event
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