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Do you have a platform for promoting yard sales? Tell our fundraisers all about it!

What types of yard sales are there?

1. Classic Yard Sale

Sometimes the most straightforward approach is the only one you need. If you, your club, church, or nonprofit have enough items to host a yard sale, then you’ll just need to pick a day and find a public venue to host it!

Of course, there are a few more steps you’ll need to take. Determine each item’s price beforehand based on both its worth and what you know your main audience can afford. Remember that while supporters are often willing to spend more if they know it’s going to a good cause, people also attend yard sales because they’re looking for a good deal. This means that if a slightly used tennis racket you have for sale is double the price of a new one, you probably won’t make the sale. 

2. Used Book Sales

The classic yard sale tends to have a wide variety of items available, but it’s possible to host a themed one with just one or two types of items. In some cases, this can even make your marketing easier as you’ll be able to promote exactly what you’re selling to potential supporters instead of inviting them to just browse.

Among the different types of item-specific yard sales, used book sales tend to be especially popular. In general, there tend to be two primary types of used book sales:

  • Normal books. Collect novels, cookbooks, memoirs, picture books, and any other kind of book available that your community would like to read. Used book sales that focus on just books in general can be a popular fundraiser for libraries, schools, clubs, or just individuals with a lot of books hoping to raise a little extra. 
  • Textbooks. Some fundraisers try to time their yard sale to the beginning of their local university’s fall or spring semesters. Then, they can create a used book sale dedicated specifically to in-demand textbooks. To make sure you have enough books to line your textbook sales’ shelves, try offering to buy textbooks back from students at the end of the previous semester.

Just like with any other type of yard sale, make sure to keep your primary audience in mind when deciding what to sell. After all, while you may have a loyal group of supporters who will try to make a purchase no matter what, yard sales are also a great way to get more attention from brand new supporters who are just looking for a good deal. 

3. A Yard Sale Alongside Other Events

While your team will likely need to have someone managing your yard sale all day, for supporters, it can seem like a rather small fundraiser in comparison. This is because the average supporter will likely browse your items, make a purchase, and then be done with your yard sale, even if it continues for several more hours. 

To attract more attention to your yard sale and keep supporters interested in coming back and potentially buying more, try hosting your yard sale alongside another event. For example, you might set up a few tables for your yard sale at your community field day or potluck. Or, if your organization is running a casual silent auction, you might set up a yard sale section with lower-cost items that supporters can buy outright. 

4. Donation-Driven Yard Sale

You can only run a yard sale if you have enough items to fill at least a few tables. If you find you’re a bit shy or interested in stockpiling items to sell at your next yard sale, you can ask your supporters to donate items. 

For a donation-driven yard sale, ask your community members if they’d be willing to contribute items they are no longer using but that someone else in their community may want to buy. Then, when you’ve collected enough items, you can host your yard sale and sell back all of the items you had donated to your organization. Here are a few popular types of items you might ask for as donations

  • Books. As mentioned, used book sales can be a big hit in communities with lots of readers. Ask your supporters to donate their new and gently used books to set up your book sale.
  • Clothes. Thrifting has always been popular, and you can help your community find good quality clothes for reasonable prices while also helping a good cause all at the same time. 
  • Miscellaneous. In some cases, you may just be willing to take whatever your community has to offer! As long as the items donated are new or gently used, your nonprofit may be able to find a home for them elsewhere in your community. Popular miscellaneous items can include sports equipment, musical instruments, appliances, baby items, pet supplies, and more.

Remember to make it clear when supporters originally donate that you intend to sell the items back to the community. This transparency is essential for making sure supporters aren’t confused later on when they see something they gave to your nonprofit being retailed back to them. If supporters would like to donate something that will be sent to your beneficiaries or otherwise used by your nonprofit to fulfill your mission, try setting up an in-kind donation program.

What are the steps for hosting a yard sale?

1. Determine your sale type.

You’ll first need to figure out the overall trajectory of your yard sale by determining what type of event you want to host. For instance, if you plan to host a used textbook yard sale, you’ll have a very different planning process than if you decide to host a donation-driven clothing yard sale. 

Pick your type of yard sale based on either what types of items you already have on hand or what would be easy to obtain. Ideally, if you already have all the items you need, you’ll be able to jump right into the next phase of planning. If not, dedicate the time to collecting more items relevant to your yard sale type.

2. Price your items.

There are several strategies you can use for pricing an item. For instance, you might first determine what your ideal fundraising goal is, then use that as a guideline for setting item prices, especially if you aren’t sure what an item’s original retail value was. 

Be sure to also keep your audience and their expectations in mind when setting prices. After all, yard sale shoppers know they’re buying secondhand items and will likely want prices that reflect that. While some supporters may be willing to spend a bit more if they know it’s for a good cause, that willingness will also be determined by your yard sale type. For example, a college student going to a used book sale to buy textbooks will probably only make a purchase if you’re selling them for less than their campus’s bookstore. 

3. Pick a venue and a day.

Determine how much space you’ll need for your yard sale. Then, if needed, reserve a venue space on the day you plan to host your sale. For instance, if you only have a few tables full of items, you’ll just need to choose a venue that receives a lot of foot traffic. By contrast, if you are overloaded with items or have a few big things to sell, you may need to look into renting event space. 

At your venue on the day of your sale, make sure to factor in setup time to your day’s event plans. For instance, you’ll need to lay out all of your items and add price tags to them. 

Also, it’s never a bad idea to have a venue with at least some indoor space so you can quickly pull items inside if it starts raining. 

4. Promote your event.

In the days leading up to your event, get the word out to potential buyers as much as possible. Create flyers to post around town with your yard sale’s date, time, and location, make posts on social media, and choose a location that will receive plenty of foot traffic to attract passersby. 

5. Start selling!

After all of your preparations, it’s finally time to start selling! Make sure you have a way to accept payments, such as a card reader or even just a make-shift cash register for storing cash. Of course, for each item sold you should also strive to provide buyers with a receipt. This will help keep your finances straight at the end of your event. 

How can I promote my yard sale?

1. Choose a location with heavy foot traffic. 

Often, many people visit and end up buying something from a yard sale they just happened to stumble upon. When selecting your venue, pick a location that sees a lot of foot traffic. 

2. Preview high-value images. 

Yard sales are often known for their great deals, but supporters will only make purchases if you are selling something that they want to buy. Take photos of high-quality items and feature them in your promotional material to get supporters interested in your event.

3. Partner with other organizations. 

You may need to partner with another organization like a local school or church to get the event space you need. But this partner can be helpful not just for their venue, but also because they can provide needed marketing assistance. 

In the lead-up to your event, ask other organizations who may want to work with yours (or even sell their own items at your yard sale) if they can help in your promotional efforts.