Church Fundraising at its fun-nest and its fine-est!

Here’s a church fundraiser with no upfront cost and no selling to family & friends! Everything you need to know to make $1000’s at a One-Day Rummage Sale.

If you’re…

  • tired of selling stuff for little return
  • sick of nickel & diming your congregation for money
  • done with bake sales, car washes, and random begging

Check out this One-Day Rummage Sale!

High-Profit Fundraiser for a Small Church Youth Ministry, Women’s Group or Mission Trip

How much money did we raise in one day?

  • 1st Year – $1300!
  • 2nd Year – $3000!!
  • 3rd Year – $4500!!!
  • 4th Year – $6000!!!!

Quit ‘Fleecing the Flock’

How it all began …

We needed money for an upcoming youth mission trip, and our pastor asked us to quit “fleecing the flock.” If you don’t know anything about sheep (which I certainly didn’t), fleecing the flock is all about taking all your sheep’s fur over and over again.

While we have a generous church that loves our kids, excessive fundraising can have a detrimental effect.

  • Fundraising often diverts money from tithing and disrupts regular giving patterns
  • Fundraising fatigue is real! People get tired of a constant ask
  • Excessive Fundraising drains energy and time from your team

So we found a way to get more bang for our buck! To raise money outside our church family! And genuinely provide a valuable service to our community!

The Pros & Cons of a Ruammge Sale Fundraiser for your Church

Every great idea has pros as well as cons … so here’s the real scoop!

The Pros:

  1. The community loves it and gets great deals on products they actually want 
  2. There’s no overhead & no upfront cost (except a little poster board!)
  3. The whole congregation gets involved, so relationships deepen as everyone works together
  4. Church visibility increases as people walk in the doors who may never come otherwise
  5. There’s incredible money potential
  6. Any size church can be wildly successful!

The Cons:

  1. It takes a full week of hard work & a bit of stress
  2. It requires lots of planning and great organizational skills

BOTTOM LINE: For our small church, a few thousand dollars is totally worth one week of hard work! And we love the side benefits of fun, team building, community connection, and growing leadership skills. 

The pros far outweigh the cons!


#1 Create a Solid Plan 3-6 months Ahead of Time

The better decisions you make ahead of time, the smoother your sale will go and the higher your profits will be. Planning well yields great things!

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Increased sales
  • A volunteer team who wants to do it again
  • Satisfied shoppers

Choose Your Best Date & Time

Research the best Saturday to hold garage sales in your region. For Arizona, February has been amazing, but that wouldn’t work in the cold country!

Hold a ONE-DAY ONLY sale because two-day garage sales don’t yield much more profit than one, and your team will be exponentially happier! We run our sale from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. By 5:00 that evening our church is cleaned and set-up for Sunday Morning worship, classes, and fun!

Decide on Church Set-Up

Make a detailed plan for room use and traffic flow. Include a “Hold Area” near the cashiers. Plan a “Loading Area” for easy furniture pick-up. Choose an “After-Sale” room where left-over items can remain on Sunday morning.

Most shoppers prefer larger, open areas and don’t go venture back into Sunday school rooms or down hallways (except for clothes!). So think of your traffic flow. Also, choose your areas for household, kids stuff, clothes, books/media, yard & garden, and more.

  • Check the church calendar for room usage and conflicting activities
  • Get permission and reserve rooms now!
  • Cancel mid-week programming for that week if necessary. (For us, the majority of the church building is ours for the week.)

Secure Extra Tables 

For a successful sale, you need more tables than you think. Walk through your chosen areas, and measure out how many tables will fit. Allow a 4-foot space between table rows where people will be walking, and keep rows to only 3 tables long at maximum. If people feel trapped they don’t shop.

TRIED & TRUE TIP: Borrow batches of tables from area churches or community organizations. It will save tons of time and effort to borrow 40 tables from 4 places than asking 40 people to bring in tables from home and hoping they show up.

Arrange to pick up tables the Sunday BEFORE the sale (for the full week) and return them the Saturday evening immediately following the sale so they will have them back for Sunday use.

For a simple-to-follow plan of an amazing sale week, click here: 7-Day Countdown to the Best Church Rummage Sale Ever!

Make a Donation Plan

The success of your sale depends on 2 main things: 1) Lots of donated items, and 2) People Buying. So an easy, no-hassle donation plan is a must! 

Make it easy for people to donate, and eliminate the nightmare and extra work of storing donations ahead of time with these tips.

  • Begin accepting donations only 6 Days before the sale
  • Plan donation hours at church where your team helps unload cars at a specific drop-off door
  • Arrange pick-ups of larger items or for those unable to able to bring their items to church
  • Do not accept items that are broken, stained, or damaged
  • Do not accept mattresses
  • Promote getting donations like crazy (remember 2-prongs of promotion: 1) getting donations and 2) the sale itself)

#2 Assemble the Right Team

Designate a responsible person for each area below. He or she might have others help, but one person needs to make sure it happens and stays on track. If you are in a small church, like mine, several of these areas may have the same point person. As long as all these areas are covered, it will be a raving success!


A positive, motivated person with mad organizational skills. Not afraid to make phone calls, happy to send lots of reminders, able to track multiple tasks. Loves a list and a calendar! Must be kind, loving and relational. A grateful person who plans on sending thank you notes! Before the sale, during the sale, and after the sale, this person is the gracious Queen Bee.


Must not be a procrastinator! Coordinates multi-prong communication – flyers requesting donations, creative bulletin announcement, sale flyers, newspaper ads, sign-making and placement. Follows a clear calendar plan! Even during the sale week, the promotion team takes photos for a social media boost.


Arranges borrowing, pick-up, set-up, and return of dozens of tables. (Our church uses 100 tables, borrowing 50 tables from 4 different places). Reserving tables happens a few months ahead of time. Pick-up and set-up happens the Sunday before the sale, and requires muscles and vehicles. Tear-down and return of tables takes place Saturday, immediately following the sale.


Friendly and reliable, this person is happily available by phone, text, and/or email. Coordinates drop-off times and requested pick-up of items. Staffs the collection times at church with helpers to greet and unload cars. This person also coordinates the donation of left-over items after the sale.

TRIED & TRUE TIP: A few months ahead of time, find a non-profit willing to come pick up all remaining stuff the day after the sale!


This person works heavily the week of the sale and heads up volunteers to unpack all donations and place in correct areas – household, clothes, outdoor, tools, etc. They arm their team with disinfecting wipes to spruce up dirty items, and ensure broken and stained items are trashed.


Pricing is a tedious job and needs a cheerful leader! The best pricers are those who shop yard sales. They know what good deals are and fair prices are at garage sales, because they go all the time! Between pre-printed stickers and masking tape, ensuring every item has a price tag is key!

TRIED & TRUE TIP: Our older church members are our best pricers – and they enjoy coming in during the day time and pricing!


Lots of volunteers are needed on Sale Day! Room Leaders are available for answering questions, repricing, and negotiating. Room Helpers (students) greet customers, keep rooms organized, assist with carrying items or taking them to the Hold Area. Car loaders to load vehicles, especially heavy items, appliances, or furniture. Cashiers run the pay area. A Hold Area is staffed near the check-out. Everyone helps clean up and prepare for the After-Sale.

#3: Promote Like a Master

Prioritizing promotion launches your sale to greatness! Remember the 2 prongs of promotion: 1) Promoting for donations and 2) Promoting the sale.

Promote for Donations

  • Get the word out to your community through flyers, announcements, and social media. Start this MONTHS ahead of time with a SAVE YOUR STUFF campaign so you don’t miss tons of stuff people will drop off at other donation centers if they don’t know about your upcoming cause.
  • As the date gets closer, advertise drop-off dates & times. Start your sale week with a bang by running a STUFF YOUR TRUNK campaign, asking people to load their cars before church the Sunday prior to the sale. Then after church, students happily unload cars at the designated door for drop-off donations where you remind people to bring more donations all week long and tell their friends!

Promote the Sale

  • One month before, clarify your promotion plan for the sale. Consider newspapers, facebook groups, social media, signs in the community and flyers. (Check local regulations for signage because you may need to secure a permit!)
  • Gather students to make signs for the sale to place outside the day of (or the day before). The more signs the better, and the neater the better. Make a sign template for kids to duplicate. Catchy, attractive signs that are easy to read will bring more shoppers!
  • Place day-of signs out EARLY morning or the night before if permitted to catch your garage sale regulars who are out roaming the neighborhoods for deals.

TRIED & TRUE TIP: Join local Facebook Garage Sale groups! This is becoming the best way to promote sales in many regions. However, you need to join the group to promote your sale. So join EARLY. It can sometimes take weeks before being accepted into these group.

#4 Gather Supplies

You will need:

  • Lots of plastic bags from grocery stores for clothing room and for purchases
  • Poster board for outside sale signs AND for inside room category signs
  • Boxes for outside road signage AND for purchases
  • Black paint and 1” sponge brushes for making signs
  • Permanent markers for signs and pricing
  • Pre-printed price stickers
  • Good masking tape for pricing and the hold area
  • Clear packing tape for signage
  • Extra tables (should be covered by table team)
  • Cash box & change
  • Square Reader or alternative for credit card payments
  • Pens, paper, and calculators for the cashiers
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Trash bags
  • Coffee, snacks and lunch for volunteers
  • Fabric /Old sheets to drape church stuff
  • “Ask Me” tags  – to designate your volunteer team
  • Pocket Aprons for your volunteers (optional but super helpful!)

#5 Collect Donations

Expect to collect donations from your community, both inside and outside the church. Family, friends, teachers, coaches, business owners, and more. The more donations, the more money you raise. So don’t be shy about promoting your cause.

Staff drop-off times with at least one adult in addition to students, both for safety and to keep everyone on task. Always greet with a smile, unload cars, and ask for more!

Cheerful customer service is key. The better customer service at donation drop-offs, the more donations you will receive.

Remind your team: Happy and Helpful! 

Keep extra flyers on hand with the drop-off times and always ask people to bring more stuff and tell their friends. Often people donating have other items that were too heavy or they forgot. If you ask them, you might be surprised! 

#6 Organize for Success

Organizing is a huge job and it makes a HUGE difference. An organized rummage sale results in higher sales and happier customers. We know this by experience!

Shopping fatigue is real. People will leave your sale if it’s messy if they can’t find the stuff they are looking for, if the lighting is bad, or if it is too crowded.

Cleanliness matters and attractive visual display sells more!

TRIED & TRUE TIP: Save all boxes as you unpack! You will need them later!

For more specific tips on organizing and display, click here: 7 Day Countdown to the Best Church Garage Sale Ever!

# 7 Price Every Item

People want clear and obvious pricing! If they can’t see a price, most people will walk away even if they want it. As tedious as this seems, you will sell MUCH more if every item is clearly priced.

Doing a good job pricing has great results:

  • More money
  • Less stress for everyone
  • Happy cashiers

Resist Batch Pricing

Batch pricing is when you see – “everything on this table is a dollar” or “all baby toys are 50cents”. Or items with a pink sticker are $1 and yellow stickers mean $5. This results in fewer sales and more stress. So don’t do it!

Two exceptions:

  • Clothing
  • Books

These two categories you SHOULD batch price. If you do not batch price clothes and books you will end up with more leftovers than you sell.

For more pricing tips, click here: A 7-Day Countdown to the Best Church Rummage Sale Ever!

# 8 Run a Savvy Rummage Sale

WARNING: The day of the sale can be stressful.

It starts early. Customers aren’t always happy. Volunteers may get crabby. Disagreements happen. Things don’t go as planned. Make it your goal to keep everyone smiling.

  • Put relationships first – serve all who walk in the door
  • Provide volunteers with anything they need – supplies as well as coffee!
  • Place key people around to make on-the-fly decisions

Communicate a clear hierarchy of authority to deal with the unexpected.

Staff all your rooms with needed people, and have some “floaters” around for extra help. If you live in an area with a common second language, a translator helps a lot!

For more amazing tips too numerous to list here, click here: A 7-Day Countdown for the Best Church Rummage Sale Ever!

#9 Clean Up

When the sale is over and everyone sighs in relief, you’re not quite done yet!

Make clean-up and tear down a breeze by planning and delegating specific jobs ahead of time. If everyone knows what their job is after the rummage sale, clean-up goes quickly.

  • The people who put out the road signs go and collect them
  • Assign some to condense leftover items into the designated after-sale room
  • Assign a cleaning crew to vacuum and put the church back in order
  • Have the people who picked up borrowed tables tear them down and return them
  • Make sure no one leaves until the church is ready to go for Sunday morning

#10 Host a Sunday “After-Sale”

Encourage your congregation to browse through the leftovers from the rummage sale before and after church. Ignore all price tags and communicate that any items can be taken for any donation.

After the congregation has left for the day, box all leftovers and stack them together for your donation pick up that is scheduled for Monday morning. 

VOILA! 10 Tips and 7 days. Your church is put back together. And you hosted the best fundraiser of all time!

Make A Church Rummage Sale an Annual Event for Even Greater Benefits

Our sale gets easier, less stressful, and more profitable each year. 

  • Because people know it’s coming, they save their donations for us
  • Regular shoppers in the community look forward to our sale and  put it on their calendars
  • Our organization improves each year as we plan better, have a system, and know the groove

TRIED & TRUE TIP: Evaluate with your team members and take great notes. What went well? What should we change? If you take great notes this year (and don’t lose them!) the next year will be even better! It truly gets easier every year!


For more amazing tips for even greater success, read: 7-DAY COUNTDOWN TO THE BEST CHURCH RUMMAGE SALE EVER!

If you don’t need to raise money, but want to host a free sale for community outreach, click here to learn more: HOW TO HOST A “BUY-NOTHING” EVENT FOR YOUR COMMUNITY