Now that it’s summer, it seems not a weekend goes by that I don’t bike past a group of giggling teens standing on a street corner, displaying illegible signs advertising their fund-raising task – usually a car wash.
If I, riding past not more 15 feet away, on a bike going only about 8 miles an hour at most (yes, I putz along) can’t read these signs, what chance does a motorist, twice as far away and going three times as fast, have? These fund raisers shoot themselves in the foot every time.

Here are 7 ways to ensure that you are able to grab people’s attention:


  1. Don’t count on flagging down hundreds of drivers on the day of your event. Most people passing by have plans made and places to go. The best thing to do is make sure people know about the event in advance and come in purposely. Anyone else is just gravy.

—Put up flyers everywhere. At the very least, put them up in the location where you’re holding the event!
—Have your volunteers hand out flyers to their friends, families and acquaintances days in advance.
—Announce it in the local ‘weekly’ newspapers.


  1. Use large, bright white posterboard for your signs. Being cheap by breaking down dull-brown cardboard boxes guarantees that your signs won’t be looked at, no matter what they say.
  2. Use very thick, black or blue markers – not red. People driving past can see dark ink much better than bright ink.
  3. Make your letters not only big, Big, BIG – but thick, Thick, THICK. Letters should be at least 3 inches tall, and each line forming that letter should be at least an inch wide.
  4. If you’ve got enough minions, try to post them on block corners on either side of your car wash location, to give drivers advance alert. Also have someone standing right beside the appropriate driveway with another sign.
  5. Build a team atmosphere. All the people advertising your car wash, and everyone doing the work at the car wash, should wear the same color shirts, and even trousers, if possible.. It gives the motorist the sense that what’s going on is a professional operation.
  6. Give each of your donors (as these drivers are) a flyer as he or she leaves the car wash, thanking them for helping you out, urging them to have their friends stop by, and perhaps containing a coupon (see if a local Dairy Queen, McDonalds or other fast food restaurant will help out your organization as well) rewarding them with a free ice cream cone or something similar.

And finally…make sure your volunteers do a good job! Good will will translate into more funds raised.


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