Why the Standard ‘Car Wash’ Rarely Works as a Fundraiser

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Car WashYou are driving down the road and see a teenager with the sign that says “Car Wash”.  If you are like most people, you are not likely to turn the wheel to get your car washed, even if you need it.  The question is why.  If you are like most people I ask about this scenario, they respond, “I do not know what they are raising money for.”

Giving the customer a reason for conducting a fundraiser is vital to the success of any fundraiser, including Popcorn Sales.  The ‘Car Wash’ is a commodity.  A person can go to many locations to get a car wash.  However, they are willing to spend the same amount or more if they know what the money is going for.

A great example of this is in my son’s Unit.  Our Unit has been within $1000 of reaching their FOS goal for several months.  We asked for additional donations with no luck.  Three weeks ago, one of our Assistant Scoutmasters took a turn for the worse in his battle against cancer.  The Scoutmaster, in his wisdom, wanted to pay tribute to him by donating a $1000 James E West Award in his honor.  He sent out an email to the adults in the Unit soliciting donations for this award and within 3 hours raised over $3000 to honor him. We presented the Award at our Court of Honor 3 days later, and there was not a dry eye in the room.  Unfortunately today, Steve lost his bout with cancer and our prayers go out to his family.  You can read more about Steve here.

The point I am trying to make is having a reason why the customer should “buy” a product is just as important as the product itself. Scouts should know what their reason is for the Popcorn Sale.  This reason is different for each Scout. For many, that reason may be to pay their way to camp.  For others, it is to have an experience they would not otherwise be able to attend like the National Jamboree or Philmont.

“How do you do this?” you may ask.  When going door-to-door, create a page with pictures that show what activities or items on which you will spend the money.  I recommend laminating the page so that it can be used by multiple Scouts and multiple times.  For example, Troop 214 in Anchorage, AK made pages that showed the summer camp in Hawaii they planned on attending.  If you are doing Show and Sell, have a poster that shows all of the activities the Unit is going to do the next year.  This can also be used as a recruiting tool.

By the way, if your organization is going to do the “Car Wash”, please put on the sign why you are raising the money. vr_button

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