As an active parent in my daughter’s fall and winter programs, I wanted to think of a new way to raise money that taps some of the modern technology we have available at our fingertips. With my youngest now in 11th grade, I have purchased my share of wrapping paper, fruit crates, and coupon books.
So I thought, “Why not an eBay junk drive?”
Selling things on ebay has never been easier. There is even a mobile app that will allow you to list certain things for sale right from your phone. With a paypal account to accept payments along with eBay’s integrated shipping label feature, its easy to turn donated junk into cash.
Step one: Find a parent volunteer with established eBay and paypal accounts and some ebay selling experience. If no one fits this description, reach out for someone to get it set up and give it a try. eBay’s business model depends on the rest of us wanting to sell our stuff, so they have countless tutorials that will get you started.
Step two: Acquire donated items to sell. Send out an email blast to your members or post on your group facebook page asking for items to be donated. The key thing to remember with eBay is, virtually everything you sell will need to be boxed and shipped. Generally, things that weigh less than five pounds are the sweet spot. If you get much heavier that that, the cost of shipping tends to discourage possible buyers. Some great ideas are old cell phones, Halloween costumes, digital cameras, name brand toys, camcorders, gold and silver jewelry, and even old blue jeans.
Step three: Evaluate the items that your members and friends want to donate to determine if it’s worth the effort to sell. The easiest thing to do is simply search for the same item on ebay and see what it has been selling for. You will want to toggle the search results to show only ‘completed listings’. This will let you see the items that actually have sold along with their final price. This is also a good opportunity to set expectations with the person donating. Maybe they are giving you something that they don’t realize might be worth $300.00. It’s a chance for them to decide if they are sure they want to donate. Or perhaps they feel their item is very valuable, but you find it typically only brings in $5. Would they rather just hang onto it? Keep the lines of communication open.
Step four: List your items. One at a time, grab an item from your pile of donated loot, take some pictures, and write a brief description. Then go to the eBay selling wizard and get it listed. I typically use a 7 day auction format and start the price low with no reserve. One by one your auctions will close, the buyers will pay, and you can print out a shipping label to send the item.
Step five: Keep good records. While ebay and paypal are great tools, they don’t come free. You can expect to see about 23% of your take go to ebay and paypal in the form of fees. It’s a good idea to keep a shared spreadsheet up to date for transparency. This way, everyone in your program will know how much money you are making, and understand the fee component.
We just closed out our first eBay junk drive which netted $400.24 in just over a month! This was with only guard families donating items they had laying around. Next time, we may target more specific items, like cell phones for instance, and go door to door asking for donations.
Our first one was on a very small scale, so I was able to perform all the legwork. But for the next run, we want to divide the work up into several sections. This will allow us to scale up, and make more money. We plan to have a couple of people in charge of gathering and evaluating items. Have one or two people taking pictures and writing the descriptions. Another person will list the items and a final person will ship the sold items and update the records.
We are just getting started, but I think this will be a great new revenue source for our program over the next several years.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Rob Fox is in the middle of his fifth year as an active parent in the Broad Run High School Color Guard and Winter Guard programs. The instructors typically call on him for assistance with prop building, and floor and prop transportation. The eBay drive is his first endeavor in fund raising.