Clean cars help reunion
The story of this car wash begins in Reunions Magazine, Vol 15 No 2, Oct/Nov 2004. A detailed schedule and summary did not cover the details of this important, replicable, fundraising project.
Vallery Kountze, Los Angeles, California, worked with Mabray Andrews and Kiersten McDevitt in Medford, Massachusetts, and the Kountze Extended Family Reunion Youth Development Committee long distance to plan this fundraising car wash. Kountze wrote, “I was not on-site, and so I missed the actual event that clearly turned out to be the most fun, if not the most fulfilling, part of all.”
The Car Wash netted $1,237 thanks to the help of 11 teens and 11 adult volunteers. Together, they washed approximately 20 cars in four hours on a rain threatened Saturday in June. That’s a terrific fundraising average of almost $62 a car!
How it came together
The Kountze Extended Family Reunion Finance and Fundraising Committee wanted to both engage and, more importantly, invest the family’s youth in the reunion. Kountze writes, “We also wanted to benefit from what we knew would be meaningful contributions from our young people: financially, in deed and in spirit, to the Reunion’s manifestation (Win/Win!). We approached Youth Development Committee chairs Dereck Moore, Langston Dugger and Kiersten McDevitt and leadership to enlist their support and coordination. We came to them with a ‘turn-key’ idea … something the Finance and Fundraising Committee could strategize and provide tools for so long as the young people were willing to execute.”
What we did to kick things off
Adult and teen leadership at every step is important … working together to power the effort. It’s essential that key leadership, as well as the team of car wash volunteers, are where you plan to hold your car wash.
You need one or (preferably) more teens to recruit car wash volunteers (other family members and/or friends) and manage communication with the volunteers in advance and throughout the event.
Adult family members must work with youth volunteers to make sure car wash supplies are on-site and to assist in advertising (see Car Wash Flyer) and promoting the event (e.g., at churches, local businesses and throughout the community).
Choose a weekend date and identify a location that has water access and hose bibs, plenty of driveway/workspace and enough of a blacktop strip, parking area or tarmac to accommodate waiting cars without creating traffic problems. If you don’t have a local park that can provide this, perhaps a neighborhood gas station would be willing to accommodate you. In either case, you need permission and possibly a local permit.
Have folding tables and chairs for customers to sit and relax while their cars are being washed and for volunteers to take breaks, eat lunch, manage cash boxes, etc. Have a large cooler for volunteer refreshments. You might want to sell soft drinks and chips to car wash customers and other passersby. A radio or CD player is also a good idea for entertainment and maintain the energy level.
The Volunteer Effort
Each volunteer group (adults and teens) had chairpersons/coordinators. We found that it’s especially important that the teen group has at least two coordinators, and that one or more of the adult volunteers maintain close contact with teen coordinators to offer as much support as they need. Adult volunteers are responsible for making sure that all the equipment and supplies are rounded up.
The youth group was already in the midst of raising money with a raffle and used the car wash as another opportunity to sell raffle tickets.
Advance fundraising is the key
The advance work is critical to success. Our Finance and Fundraising Committee sent a mailing to all family members announcing the car wash, listing the family’s teen volunteers and asking for sponsorship pledges (for any or all of the volunteers) for each car they washed. Most of the funds we raised were a direct result of getting family members to support younger members’ efforts in advance of the car wash, through this mailing/pledge drive.
In addition to sponsoring youth volunteers, some family members donated money specifically to purchase car wash supplies and lunch for on-site volunteers. These donations totaled $178.50.
Last (but definitely not least) each teen volunteer was asked to get a minimum of 10 pledges from their family’s friends and neighbors.
You might also consider asking a local auto supply store to donate a gift certificate or car wash supplies in exchange for advance and on-site promotion. Even if they donate only $50 or $100 it can be worth it to your ‘bottom line’ and is a good way to establish a community impetus.
Ahead of time make a detailed list and determine when and where you’re getting supplies. Assign advance tasks and on-site duties.
The day of the car wash requires a good deal of set-up, clean-up, coordination and teamwork but is the outcome and demonstration of enthusiasm for a family reunion.
The day was a lot of work, but a great deal of fun for everyone. In the end, they raised $911 in pledges through the family mailing, $178.50 from additional family donations, $250 from pledges teen volunteers got from friends and neighbors and $226.50 in car wash and refreshment receipts for a grand total of $1,566. Expenses for printing and mailing flyers, car wash supplies, lunch and refreshments totaled $328.50 or a net $1,237.50. In all, it was a great success.