Hold Your Own Free Yard Sale (Free Resources!)

On Saturday, October 11th, Illumine hosted a "free yard sale." The concept for these is simple: gather donations, put them out on tables, and charge nothing. It's easy to do, (and therefore just as easy not to do.)

There are, of course, 10,000 things that can go wrong. The weather is a factor. Greed is a factor (can be on both sides - donating or receiving.) Publicity is a factor. Having tables is a factor. Time. Volunteers. Coordination. All things that complicate. 

But honestly, just as many things can go right. Volunteers can be activated and empowered. Donors can start to develop that godly-stewardship addiction. Kids can learn generosity. Needy moms can clothe their newborns. College kids can afford some furniture. Parents can sign up for Mornings with Mommy. The community can see your facility. The community can see your heart for them. Families you haven't seen in a while might return. Members of other churches might marvel at the generosity. Some folks might even donate money for the items they receive, which you can then plug into more charitable work.

I lied. Way more things can go right than wrong!

To help anyone who is considering a sale of this sort, here's Illumine's handy list that should clear the path to a great day. 

3 Months Out

  • Choose a date.
    • Pay attention to "yard sale season." Pick a day that is big for yard sales. If you don't know when that will be, talk to one of the yard-salers in your congregation.
  • Recruit an event coordinator.
  • Pray for the event's success.
  • Develop promotional materials. (Here's a poster template.)
  • Advertise to potential donors.
    • Offer to pick things up if needed. It helps, and it gives somebody with a truck a great way to serve.

2 Months Out

  • Pray for the event's success.
  • Distribute posters to local businesses. 
  • Create Facebook/social media event. 
  • Schedule "side events" that will not only bring people in, but help people stay.
    • Have activities for children. Definitely.
      • Coloring
      • Sidewalk chalk.
      • Recess-type games.
    • Consider live music.
    • Consider inviting food trucks.
    • Consider a bounce house.
  • Plan any decorations. 
  • Plan any food. (Coffee = MUST)
  • Order signage.

1 Month Out

  • Pray for the event's success.
  • Begin collecting donations (if you haven't yet.)
  • Offer other yard sales the chance to donate their leftovers.
  • Do another Facebook ad buy.
  • Recruit volunteers to staff the sale.
  • Recruit volunteers to set up the stuff the night before.
  • Recruit volunteers to deliver large items the day of the sale.

2 Weeks Out

  • Pray for the event's success. 
  • Get into the Newpaper.
  • Redistribute/distribute more posters (don't forget schools/universities.)
  • Print flyers for the congregation to hand out. (Here's a sample.)
  • Assess donations. Ask for more.
  • Plan out sale layout.
    • Outside is recommended, simply for visibility. People stop at yard sales.
    • Questions to consider:
      • Where will hangup clothes go?
      • Where will books go? (Especially in bad weather.)
      • If someone wants to donate, where will they put the cash?

1 Week Out

  • Pray for the event's success.
  • Begin organizing donations.
  • Last call for donations.
  • Canvass low-income neighborhoods with flyers.
  • Design/print/stuff anything you're going to hand out to those who shop.
  • Schedule newspaper ads.
  • Call local radio stations.

1 Day Out

  • Pray for the event's success.
  • Organize the donations into categories. 
    • Kitchen, decor, infant, men's clothes, women's clothes, garage, seasonal, etc.
  • Prep the bathrooms. 
  • Prep the food/beverage stations.
  • Put up decorations.
  • Prep information collection cards, just in case someone wants to join the email list.

Day Of

  • Put out donations.
  • Put out signage.
  • Put out handout materials.
  • Pray the whole day, closing with thanks.

Post Sale

  • Donate everything that's left over to a local thrift store OR keep it until the next Free Yard Sale.
  • Followup with people.

Remember, it's just as easy to do as it is not to do. Proverbs 19:17 | "Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord."