As with any fundraiser, the key to profitable car wash fundraiser is the planning. Taking your car wash planning serious means the difference between just having an event and having a wildly successful fundraiser. Here are some successful car wash secrets sure that are sure to help you exceed your goals.

Date. Time. Location. Pick a Saturday at least six weeks out. Start at 10 am and go to at least 2 pm. Select a rain date a few weeks later just in case.

Look at your newspaper's calendar. Are there other events you can tie into? Maybe there's a festival, or even another big fundraiser that will attract a lot of people. Contact these groups and ask to be part of them. Offer a small share of your proceeds (5%-10%) if they allow your car wash.

Otherwise, pick a heavily trafficked intersection. Gas stations and strip malls work well. Ask the owner about insurance. You may need to purchase liability event insurance if they don't have an umbrella policy to cover the event.

Successful Car Wash Secrets

Assigning Jobs. Depending on the size of your volunteer group, it's likely some people will have to wear several hats. Ask your team what their strengths are. Here are the jobs that need filling.

  • Leader/Coordinator
  • PR Person
  • Location Person
  • Supplies Person
  • Ticket Sales Coordinator
  • Ticket Sellers
  • Car Washers


Promotion/Sales. While a lot of your business will be "drive-ups", getting the word in advance is crucial. Start by making a flyer with the Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? Ask a local printer to sponsor the printing. Post these flyers all over town: public library, schools, colleges, grocery stores, etc.

Ask local radio to run a PSA (public service announcement). These are free and available if airtime is.

Have local newspapers, magazines, weeklies print a small ad. They'll usually run for free for non-profits/charities.

Use the web: Have members post on Facebook, Twitter, and email to their family, friends and co-workers.

Pre-Sell Tickets. Don't rely on just "drive-ups" for business. Pre-sell tickets. Have a creative volunteer design and print tickets on a computer. Then have your team sell them. Offer a discount for pre-purchase, say $5 instead of $7 the day of. Have a contest to see who can sell the most. The winner gets a cash prize.

Know Your Environmental Laws. Contact your town or county to find out their water laws. You'll probably need to block the "storm drain" at your car wash site. This is so that the dirty water doesn't run off into rivers, lakes, oceans, etc. Also, use a citrus or coconut based soap. These are better for the environment.

Make Extra Cash. Combine your car wash with other moneymaking ideas. For example, have a hotdog stand on site. Sell dogs and drinks. All you need is a gas grill, the supplies and a volunteer or two to run it. Have plenty of "donation cans" on hand to pass around. These are donations above and beyond the car wash fee.

Final Thoughts
If you follow these successful car wash secrets, your school or group is sure to exceed their goals. Be sure to make your own notes along the way about what worked for you and where you need improvement for next year.

Read our "School Fundraisers" for even more ideas on how to raise money for your school.