Rain. Constant rain.
As I mentioned before, Abby and I are doing our own fundraising for our trip, and the first idea that popped into my head was to do a garage sale, with donations of stuff provided by friends and family. The response was overwhelming. I underestimated how happy people are to have someone come to their home to pick up junk they have already had sitting in a corner of their home for months!
Abby and I prepared by advertising in three different online sources (Craigslist, Pennysaver, Recycler). I didn’t feel comfortable listing the full address of the location we were having it at (which was generously provided by my in-laws, thank you again so much!), so I just listed the major cross streets and told prospective customers to look for our signs. We also had a dear friend design an amazing flier which we sent to friends and family, and spread across facebook as much as we possibly could. It’s hard to tell if any of that worked, however. I really think most of our customers were just random people looking for garage sales that saw our signs. We did have one customer who came specifically for our event and simply donated $10 without buying anything, which was fantastic! But I didn’t ask her how she found out about it, so I guess we’ll never know what did it.
But there was Rain.
A few days before the event we noticed the weather forecast. Abby and I were vigilant about that forecast. We saw it slowly climb from 10%….to 30%….to 80% chance of rain. We were honestly so disheartened that all our hard work promoting, and picking up stuff from all over the place was going to be in vain.
Thankfully a friend came through at the last minute and let us borrow her tent, under which we stuffed as much stuff as we could. It wasn’t the best organized, by far, but it worked. Although it did rain, and it was constant throughout the day, thankfully people still came and went and haggled (oh they haggled) and paid. We tried to combine it with a bake sale, which was successful to a lesser extent. I think the prime hours for the bake sale would probably be between 6-8am, and unfortunately we didn’t get that going until after 8am. I think we’ll try just hot chocolate and coffee this Saturday, starting right at 6am. In the end we made $685, which is more than enough for at least one flight to Haiti!
One thing we thought might work to our advantage was to show the work we’d be doing when we go back, so people know what their money is going towards. I did a picture timeline of a volunteer’s day with All Hands, hopefully depicting everything accurately for our customers. Unfortunately, and it should’ve been expected, most people didn’t really care, as long as they could save a buck. When people tried to haggle down prices, I told them the purpose of the garage sale in an effort to keep my original price, and all I got was a blank stare, haha. Oh well.
One of the things I kept observing throughout the day, other than the constant rain, was that as much as we sold, there was still SO. MUCH. STUFF. Honestly, anyone driving by around 2pm and seeing everything that was still strewn about would have thought we hadn’t sold a single item. What I kept thinking: we have to move this stuff all over again. Sigh.
Fortunately we had a small army of friends and family that helped us pack and move everything. Abby and I are going to go through all the leftover stuff as well as the new donations this week to try to make the next garage sale a little more organized. Yep, there’s enough for another one! Hopefully we’ll make up the rest that’s needed for the second flight.
In summary, I think if you’re looking to raise money for something, and willing to put in the time and labor, a garage sale seems to be a good way to go. Advertise as much as you can, but I think the most important thing is to have visible signs at all major intersections, that’s the only sure thing. I also reached out to not only friends and family, but also professional contacts, and was lucky enough to get a good response. Don’t leave any stone unturned :) And make sure you have a small army of people to help you!
All in all, I think it was a very successful first fundraiser. Now we just have to come up with more ideas on how to make the rest of the money we need. Suggestions?