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How to Host Your Next Successful Car Wash Fundraiser

How to Host Your Next Successful Car Wash Fundraiser

Hosting a car wash fundraiser is a popular method for organizations to raise funds while engaging the community in a fun and active event. This type of fundraiser is effective in raising money, promoting your cause, and building community support–especially when it comes to creating memories for young student volunteers.

So, how can you make your car wash fundraiser successful? This in-depth guide has the answers you’re looking for. We’ll explore the benefits of a car wash fundraiser, plenty of car wash fundraiser ideas and best practices, and FAQs to help make your next car wash more profitable.

Benefits of a Car Wash Fundraiser

Let’s start by exploring the benefits of hosting a car wash for your organization.


A car wash fundraiser is notably cost-effective. The required supplies—such as soap, sponges, and buckets—are usually inexpensive or can be borrowed or donated. This minimal investment allows a significant portion of the earnings to benefit your organization directly.

Community Engagement

Car wash fundraisers excel at fostering community engagement. They offer a platform for volunteers to interact with community members, enhancing the cause’s visibility and awareness. This increased engagement can strengthen community ties and potentially lead to ongoing support.

Flexible Fundraising Options

These events are versatile in their fundraising approach. Organizers can adapt the payment structure to suit different preferences, such as setting fixed prices, accepting donations, and offering additional services for extra fees. This flexibility helps maximize the appeal and effectiveness of the fundraiser.

Educational Opportunities for Kids

For younger participants, car wash fundraisers provide a practical lesson in teamwork, responsibility, and the importance of contributing to community efforts. This makes it a fundraising opportunity and a valuable educational experience for school fundraisers.

How Does a Car Wash Fundraiser Work?

You’re not alone if you’re wondering how a car wash fundraiser works. Don’t worry–we’ve got you covered with the basics (and beyond).

Here’s a simplified step-by-step process for a nonprofit to organize a car wash fundraiser:

  1. Set Goals: Define what you want to achieve financially and socially from the fundraiser.
  2. Plan Logistics: Choose a visible and accessible location, and select a date and time that maximize potential attendance.
  3. Gather Resources: Organize supplies needed for the car wash, such as hoses, sponges, and soap, and consider borrowing or seeking donations to reduce costs.
  4. Recruit Volunteers: Assemble a team and assign roles for washing cars, handling payments, directing traffic, and running additional fundraising activities.
  5. Promote the Event: Use flyers, social media, and local partnerships to advertise your car wash. Engage community members and local businesses for support. Click here to get your car wash fundraiser flyer template.
  6. Host the Event: Set up efficiently, manage the flow of cars, and ensure a pleasant and engaging experience for participants.
  7. Follow Up: Thank participants and volunteers, assess the event’s success against your goals, and gather feedback for future improvements.

By following these steps, your nonprofit can effectively plan and execute a successful car wash fundraiser.

Real World Example

1. Set Goals

Real World Example - Set Goals for the Car wash

A local animal shelter decides to host a car wash to fund a new puppy adoption area. They set a goal to raise $2,000. This clear financial target helps them plan the scale of the event and measure success.

2. Plan Logistics

After deciding on the goal, the shelter picks a popular community park with high visibility and traffic on a Saturday when most people are off work. They check with city officials to ensure all permits are in order and arrange to use the park’s public water supply.

3. Gather Resources

The organizing team contacts local businesses for donations of buckets, soap, towels, and sponges. A nearby car dealership donates high-quality car wash soap, and a grocery store provides sponges and towels in return for advertising at the event.

4. Recruit Volunteers

Real World Example - Recruit Volunteers to wash cars

The shelter uses its newsletter and social media pages to recruit volunteers. A week before the event, they organize a meeting to assign roles: washers, dryers, donation collectors, and people to manage traffic and promotions.

5. Promote the Event

The team creates eye-catching car wash flyers and distributes them at local businesses, community centers, and schools. They also run a social media campaign with regular updates and behind-the-scenes preparations to build excitement and remind the community about the event.

6. Add Additional Revenue Boosters

Consider more ways to raise funds at your car wash. The shelter sets up a fundraising website to take money online and organizes the following:

  • Upsells on the car wash, like waxing and tire detailing
  • Provides food and drinks for sale – pastries, sandwiches, cookies, coffee, and cold drinks
  • Sells raffle tickets to win a prize
  • Sells the organization’s branded merchandise, such as t-shirts and baseball caps

7. Host the Car Wash

On the day of the event, volunteers set up early with clear signs for different services and prices. They use two lines to manage the flow of cars efficiently. As cars arrive, greeters explain the services and suggest additional donations for premium services like waxing. Volunteers,  wearing the organization’s custom-branded t-shirts, chat with the car owners, explaining more about the shelter’s projects and how the funds will be used.

8. Follow Up

After the event, the team sends out thank-you cards to all volunteers and sponsors. They also post a detailed thank-you message on social media, sharing pictures from the event and the total amount raised. The shelter conducts a debrief meeting to discuss what worked and what could be improved, storing these insights for future fundraisers.

Who Can Host a Car Wash?

All kinds of organizations host car wash fundraisers, but they work particularly well for school groups and clubs. Car washes are popular with sports groups, from the cheerleaders to the soccer team. Youth groups such as church groups and Boy Scouts also favor car washes for fundraising.

Car Wash Fundraisers Best Practices Cheatsheet

Here are the best practices to organize a successful car wash fundraiser for your nonprofit.

Download the Cheat Sheet

Note: After you open the document, click File->Download to make a copy, then edit as necessary.

1. Set Goals

  • Be Specific and Measurable: Clearly define what you aim to achieve financially and in terms of community involvement.
  • Align with Mission: Ensure the goals reflect the organization’s mission and resonate with potential donors and volunteers.

2. Plan Logistics

  • Location: Choose a high-traffic area that is easily accessible and visible.
  • Timing: Select a date and time that maximizes potential attendance, avoiding major community events or holidays.
  • Permissions: Secure all necessary permits and permissions well in advance.

3. Gather Resources

  • Source Donations: Reach out to local businesses for donations of supplies to reduce costs.
  • Prepare for Shortages: Have extra supplies on hand to avoid running out on the day of the event.

4. Recruit Volunteers

  • Diverse Skills: Recruit volunteers for various tasks.
  • Clear Roles: Assign clear roles and responsibilities to each volunteer to avoid confusion.

5. Promote the Event

  • Multichannel Approach: Use a combination of online and offline marketing strategies to promote the event.
  • Community Engagement: Engage local businesses and community leaders to help spread the word.

6. Add Additional Revenue Boosters

  • Upsells: Provide more ways to raise funds at your car wash, including food and drinks.
  • Set up a Free Fundraising Website with DoJiggy: Sell car washes, raffle tickets, and take donations online.

7. Host the Car Wash

  • Efficient Setup: Ensure the setup maximizes efficiency and safety for volunteers and participants.
  • Customer Experience: Focus on providing a pleasant experience to encourage donations and repeat support.

8. Follow Up After the Event

  • Thank Donors and Volunteers: Send thank-you notes or emails to everyone who participated.
  • Evaluate and Learn: Hold a debrief session to discuss what worked and what didn’t, and document lessons learned for future events.

Implementing these best practices will help ensure that your car wash fundraiser is well-organized, effective, and successful in meeting your goals.

10 Car Wash Fundraiser Ideas to Maximize Earnings

10 Car Wash Fundraiser Ideas to Maximize Earnings

Car wash fundraisers are excellent for raising funds and can be even more profitable with the right strategies.

Here are ten effective ideas to consider to boost your earnings:

  1. Secure Sponsorships: Approach local businesses to sponsor your event. Offer sponsorship packages that include logo placement on t-shirts and event materials and the opportunity to set up a promotional booth.
  2. Dual Washing Lines: Set up two lines to wash cars simultaneously, increasing throughput and reducing wait times for customers.
  3. Donation-Based Washing: Instead of a set price, offer the wash for free and encourage donations.
  4. Interactive Activities: While cars are being washed, engage drivers and passengers with games and raffles. Set up a shaded area with seating where they can watch the activities or relax.
  5. Sell Food and Drinks: Offer snacks and refreshments for people waiting. This not only improves the experience but also boosts your fundraising.
  6. Merchandise Sales: Sell branded merchandise such as t-shirts, hats, or car accessories to raise additional funds.
  7. Eco-Friendly Wash: Promote your event as environmentally friendly by using water-saving wash techniques and eco-friendly soap, which can attract more environmentally conscious patrons.
  8. Advanced Booking Discounts: Encourage pre-bookings by offering discounts, which can help manage flow and guarantee a certain number of washes.
  9. Corporate Car Wash Days: Offer special car wash days for local businesses where employees can get their cars washed during work hours. Companies could match their employees’ donations as part of their corporate social responsibility.
  10. Online Fundraising Integration: Use DoJiggy’s online fundraising tools to create a campaign page where people can donate even if they can’t attend the car wash. Share the link via social media and email newsletters.

By taking advantage of these strategies, your car wash fundraiser can attract more participants, provide a great experience, and ultimately raise more funds for your cause.

Car Wash Fundraiser Flyer Templates

Your car wash flyer is an important part of promoting your fundraiser. Be sure to make the flyer bright and catchy to attract attention. Include the following information on your flyer:

  • Date and time of the car wash
  • Location
  • Price or donation information
  • Additional fundraiser information – like food and drink sales
  • Organization name and cause
  • Fundraising website URL or QR code to learn more

Need a Car Wash Fundraiser Flyer Template? We have you covered!

How DoJiggy Supports Car Wash Fundraisers

DoJiggy provides comprehensive tools and services to streamline the organization of all kinds of fundraisers.

  • Event Planning Tools: User-friendly features for setting up and managing event details, including event ticketing and ancillary sales. Explore our event management software.
  • Marketing Assistance: Enhance your fundraiser with social media integration and customizable email and web templates.
  • Fundraising Features: Our platform supports various gamification methods such as fundraising thermometers, leaderboards, community chatter, and more.
  • Real-Time Reporting: Access real-time data on fundraising and participant engagement.
  • Customer Support: We are very hands-on and always offer guidance for successfully planning and executing your events.

These resources ensure a successful and enjoyable Car Wash Fundraiser, helping organizations focus on community engagement and fundraising.

Car Wash Fundraiser FAQs

What is a Car Wash Fundraiser?

A car wash fundraiser involves volunteers washing cars to raise money for a cause or organization. Participants donate money in exchange for the cleaning service. With a car wash, sales fundraisers can also be added.

How Do You Pick a Location for a Car Wash Fundraiser?

Choose a location that is highly visible and easily accessible to the public, where traffic flow is high and water is available. Popular car wash locations include school parking lots, church yards, gas stations, and shopping centers.

Do You Need a Permit for a Car Wash Fundraiser?

Check with your local city or county government. Some areas may require permits, especially for water usage and traffic control.

What Are Effective Ways to Promote a Car Wash Fundraiser?

Promote our car wash using social media, local newspapers, flyers, and community bulletin boards. Engaging local businesses for support can also help spread the word.

What Supplies Are Needed for a Car Wash Fundraiser?

Common supplies include buckets, soap, sponges, water hoses, towels for drying, and large signs for promotion on the event day.

What is the Best Time to Hold a Car Wash Fundraiser?

The best time is usually on a Saturday morning to early afternoon when most people are not working, and the weather is likely to be sunny.

How Can You Maximize Donations at a Car Wash Fundraiser?

There are lots of ways to maximize car wash donations:

  • Offer additional services like tire polishing and interior vacuuming for extra donations.
  • Consider a donation-based model where people pay what they feel is appropriate, and you may be surprised by the results.
  • Selling snacks and drinks is a must, and other branded items can also be sold.
  • Hold a fundraising raffle online, with the winner to be drawn the day after the car wash.

How Can You Recruit Volunteers for a Car Wash Fundraiser?

Recruit volunteers through local community groups, schools, and social media. Clear communication about the event’s goals and the volunteer roles needed will help to attract volunteers.

Should You Set a Fixed Price or Accept Donations?

Both models work, but accepting donations can sometimes lead to higher revenue as people may give more based on the quality of service and support for the cause.

Conclusions on Hosting a Fundraising Car Wash

Car wash fundraisers are an excellent way for nonprofits to engage their communities and raise funds effectively. These events provide financial support for various causes and foster a sense of community and teamwork, especially among younger volunteers.

By following the steps outlined in this blog, you can host a successful car wash that not only meets your fundraising goals but also strengthens your community ties.

Joel Barker

About Joel Barker

Joel joined DoJiggy in 2016 as the Technical Support Coordinator. He enjoys being the front man solving problems when possible and liaison between the fundraising organizations and the awesome DoJiggy support team when necessary. While Joel is passionate about his work, his first passion is music. He has performed with The TallBoys Band and played a number of solo shows. But the most satisfying is jamming with friends playing whatever song comes to mind.

See other posts from Joel Barker