Apr 08

How to Throw an Awesome Garage Sale for Your Favorite Charity

Sometimes you feel like putting on a major event to raise money for your favorite non-profit, and sometimes you feel like doing something a little, well, easier. I mean, putting on a full-fledged charity gala can be very rewarding, but it’s also a ton of work and your feet will end up covered in blisters. Sure, it’s for a good cause, but still! However, there are easier ways. Donating your lunch money is one. Another is cleaning out your closet for charity. Yes, I’m talking about having a garage sale, and there’s no better way of getting rid of your junk treasures than by putting one on for charity. As an old pro of the charity garage sale, I have some tips. Let me break it down for you.


1) Choose a charity

First, reach out to the charity and get their permission. They’ll likely be onboard and might even ask how they can help. Take them up on it if you think it’d be helpful, but try not to tax their resources too much. After all, you’re trying to help them out! One thing that they definitely can help with is telling their mailing list about the event — it’s a great way to drum up interest in your sale.


2) Decide on a location and a date

I cannot stress this enough: Location is EVERYTHING. You must pick a spot that’s easy-to-find and ideally gets great foot traffic. The better your location, the better your sales will be. Of course, even if you can’t get set up near a main thoroughfare, people will come by from ads, but if you can get a friend with a nice-sized yard in a busy neighborhood to host, you’re almost guaranteed a successful sale. Ask around; you’ll be surprised how many people will offer up their space for a good cause. As for a date, obviously weekends work best, but other than that, you’ll need to decide what time of year will work best for a sale in your area.


3) Get volunteers and donors

Even if you have a ton of stuff to get rid of, it’s always fun to include more people, so reach out to friends and family members and ask them if they want to get involved. Perhaps they have items to donate, or they can spend the day helping you hawk wares. Depending on the size of your sale, you might want to have 1-2 helpers there throughout the event. Recruit them now and assign everyone shifts — and don’t forget to have people there for set up and clean up!


4) Advertise

The most important thing is getting people to the sale. Since you took my earlier advice of picking a well-trafficked location, half of the battle is over. To get the best turnout possible, advertise in local weeklies and on websites like Craigslist and NextDoor, make flyers and put them in shops near your sale, ask the charity to email their donors/volunteers in the area and notify them of the sale, and make and hang signs the day-of (more on that later).


5) Get your supplies

What will you need for the actual sale? My recommendations include tables, chairs, some sort of cash box, change, sheets to lay out on the lawn, price tags, bottled water and snacks for the volunteers, and shade. Depending on the yard situation, your needs might differ. Visualizing it can help you anticipate your needs in advance.


6) Create signs

Have friends over the night before the sale for a sign-making party. Put on a movie, serve up some snacks, put out colorful markers and cardboard, and go to town making cute signs. Then, on the day-of, send out your first shift volunteers to hang them around the neighborhood (make sure they have tape, a staple gun, and/or push pins — and that someone is assigned to take them down at the end of the day!).


7) Enjoy the day!

Arrive at least two hours before the sale to set up the sale, accept dropped off donations, price items, put up signs, and make sure you’re completely organized. Of course, early birds will start circling a half-hour before the sale, so figure out how you want to deal with them. I just let them get started, because why not? Although, hey, you might be more hard-core about the rules. It’s your sale!


During the sale, tidy you go, and make sure your volunteers are taken care of with water and snacks. And sell those items! That’s what you’re there to do, and now is your time to shine. Remind potential buyers that the money is for a great cause, and they’re bound to be more generous than usual.  


Afterward, clean up everything, collect and recycle the signs, add up the money, and pat your back for a job well done. Not only did you clean out your closets, but you helped a cause that’s near and dear to your heart. You’re the best!


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