Garage Sale for DuPage Pads


Our team chose to work with DuPage Pads and the First Presbyterian Church of Downers Grove to execute a garage sale fundraiser.  DuPage Pads is the largest provider of interim and permanent housing in DuPage county, providing services such as education support, employment support, case management, and life coaching to end homelessness in DuPage County.


The team decided to do augment revenue at the garage sale fundraiser by incorporating a bake sale, online donations, and a food truck.  The food truck would be a novelty for the area as Downers Grove ordinances prohibit such vehicles from selling on public spaces – not an issue when using private property owned by the church!  We would leverage our existing networks at home, work, and beyond to solicit items for donation for the sale.

garage-sale-event-flier-2 (1)garage-sale-charity-event-flier (1)


We set three primary goals:

  1. Execute a fundraising event to support DuPagePads and all the good work that they do
  2. Build an understanding of project management tools and processes
  3. Practice project management skills in executing the fundraiser

The objectives of our fundraiser were twofold – to raise at least $500 to donate and to create as much awareness for charity as possible.  Given the time constraint, we agreed that one of our primary methodologies was to focus on cost control in order to generate the maximum amount of profit. We organized responsibilities of each team member by functional area, splitting the online components and media, the bake sale, and contact with the church, charity, and food truck to separate members.  This strategy proved to make logistics more difficult as we had to coordinate drop-offs with the member in communication with the church.


Despite our best efforts to create contingency plans, we experienced some bumps in the execution of the sale.  First and foremost, the food truck was a no-show due in part to storms the night before, but assurances from the owner kept us from implementing a contingency plan until it was too late.  Here, a contract would have helped us recover some of the revenue we had expected to gain from the sales.

We were also unprepared for the interest that the garage sale would generate.  We had allotted 1.5 hours to set up and preparation before the sale, but started getting customers early which then pushed the completion of preparations back until after the official start.

However, we focused on making sure that the key elements such as pricing and signage were in place, and had a successful day!  Our final donation amount was $124 to the First Presbyterian Church and $1113 to DuPage Pads.



  • Lock in commitments with third parties through a written contract – Contracts can help ensure revenues, participation, and control costs with any third party.  The use of contracts gives a project manager the ability to outsource tasks while also providing recourse in the event a contingency plan is needed.
  • Give online fundraising the attention it deserves – Online fundraising sites can give you the biggest return for the amount of time and effort invested.  Be sure to make access to the page as easy as possible by creating QR codes and hyperlinks to include with your electronic communications.
  • Contingency plans – Make plans for anything that plays a critical part in your event.  Some of the most difficult considerations are for events outside of your control such as the weather or an accident, but you should be prepared and ready to handle such obstacles.
  • Traffic, traffic, traffic – When it comes to fundraising, the objective to raise awareness of the charity is tied directly to the success of the event.  By garnering the support and involvement of the community, you will guarantee increased revenues no matter what type of event you host.


  • Designate a project manager – A project manager can make communications between group members more efficient and poignant.  Communication is also simplified by having a project manager assign responsibilities and check ins, reducing additional messages and calls for follow up.
  • Keep a strict schedule – Time was the major factor in having things run smoothly.  Estimates for preparation and review should be made conservatively, as well as having built in slack to help accommodate complex tasks.

15 thoughts on “Garage Sale for DuPage Pads

  1. This sounds like it was an awesome project! Initially, the idea with the food truck is what got my attention because it was something that would be unique for the area. It sounds like your group had a few hurdles to jump over but in the end, things mostly worked out. The advice section of your post was very helpful as I am a student who is just beginning mgt 301 at DePaul. I will definitely keep your tips in mind throughout the quarter and as I continue to work in groups throughout my future career.

  2. I appreciated your section on lessons learned. Following a project, it can be very beneficial to reflect upon the successes and failures as a way to improve future endeavors. I particularly like your advice of locking in commitments with contracts. This definitely helps avoid last minute cancellations that can significantly hinder the execution of an event or project. Plus, your advice is applicable to situations across several different industries.

  3. This post is very relevant to our operations management class as it reflects the full cycle of a project and how it was managed. It shows how to plan the project, and how your team managed it. The section of lessons learned and advice for future teams is very helpful as well. Often times when trying to raise money and do something for the good of others we do not think about writing something such as a written contract, but having someone not follow through with their promise can truly mess up your project. It is great to know for future projects, and a lesson learned. Unfortunately most of us learn best from mistakes made.

  4. This project sounds really awesome. Everything seemed to be under the management. You guys have your own project object and methodologies. In addition, you guys set up the goal at the beginning of the project. In other words, you guys have the whole project planing. In my opinion, that is absolutely a good project. If a team just do the project without the planing, they will definitely mess it, and there will not harvest anything. Your advices is very useful for other team when doing project. When we are doing a project, we should pay attention to all kinds of situation. That will lead you to do a good project.

  5. It is unfortunate that the food truck was a no show! Sometimes we don’t realize the effects weather can pose on events, especially those that are outdoors. Glad to see that you guys were still able to work through that and give your best effort! As you mentioned, online fundraising really needs the attention it deserves, as it can be so powerful. There is a site where anyone can create custom T-shirts to fund raise called There is no cost to design a tee and share your fundraiser through social media. You set the t-shirt price and watch your fundraiser grow! People tend to donate when they receive something in return, so I think any future fundraisers should look into ideas like this.

  6. This project is an excellent example of project management and the idea of doing something for the community itself is great! I really liked how you guys kept in mind your end goal always while doing this fundraising. As far as how you mentioned about contingency plans and how you should prepare for them, I totally agree with this because it is important to consider the difficulties you might face while working on any project. Overall, you guys did a great project that you all should feel proud of!

  7. This was an interesting post to read! Firstly, I realized this team was overall really organized and had a good plan. Organizing a garage sale fundraiser is not easy and requires a lot of planning. However, some problems surge without expecting them. For example, customers started to show up even though the event was not completely prepared. It is normal to come up with some problems in preparing for a new event. With this in mind, this team will make sure it will not happen the next time as they already experienced it. I will take in regard with these advises next time!

  8. This project in general seems like an incredible thing to be a part of, and in general its a wonderful thing to help other people. The advice for future teams was very informative for me personally. The incident with the food truck is eye opening, when other companies get involved and offer their services for free, they don’t seem to be in too much of a hurry to prioritize your event. However, a written contract would be a great way to set a certain time in stone. Another great advice was paying closer advise to the online donations. Sometimes we get too comfortable thinking that the online website will run itself, and fail to cater to its needs. I will definitely keep this advice in the back of my head for the future.

  9. Great to see such a unique plan be set into action. The organization seems to have a lot of thought behind it. From the cause to the execution it seems to be all in the right places. It seems that some of the issues that you ran into could be solved with a little bit more refined of a setup. Great to see you helping out keep it up

  10. Your post is very clear and rich in value. I can see the importance of your contract remark, I had not thought of third parties bailing at fundraising events before. As you said, a management leader would have been helpful in communications within the group. But the allocation of your group members and team duties seems to have run smoothly for the most part. The fact of breaking up the work of the group seems effective and practical.

  11. The project sounds like a great idea. It seems like the team had a clear plan and goals set out before you took action. Also, your team had the responsibilities of each team member well organized as to what they would be doing. I feel like all plans might have some uncontrolled bumps in the road, although the food truck wasn’t able to show you still kept focused on the other keys elements. Great JOB!

  12. Great post. I live not too far from Downers Grove, and the food truck idea is enticing. It seems as if everything was planned and executed well. I always worry about things not going according to plan, so great job with adjusting to unexpected problems.

  13. I think having the multiple areas of revenue generation was a great plan, and obviously was successful in the end even with the food truck not being able to make the event. However, the advice of locking in third party commitments with a contract is very helpful to future teams and events. After reading your post, I wonder if businesses who are donating their time or discounting food or services would still be willing to sign a contract? Or if there is any hesitation on their part in ‘locking’ in a day or an event when circumstances are not ideal or a potentially more profitable opportunity comes along? I would imagine again having a charity that creates a strong connection for most people would help alleviate some of that too. If in our event, we do have some businesses who are willing to donate their time on that day, we will probably try and get them to sign a contract after reading your post just to be on the safe side of the event turnout. Thank you very much and congratulations on a wonderful event.

  14. I liked the way you set specific goals and objectives before beginning the project to focus on the task and also like the way you assigned the responsibilities to each team member by functional area to get the work done more effectively. This would definitely make things less chaotic and help in focusing on achieving desired results. In addition, I liked your way of thinking to develop contingency plan for any event, especially when you are doing an outside event. Finally, thanks for providing insights on lessons learned from this project. I also think designating a project manager and keeping a strict schedule are two most important factors to make any project successful. I will definitely keep these lessons in mind and try to implement as much as we can as we work through the project this quarter.

  15. > “We organized responsibilities of each team member by functional area, splitting the online components and media, the bake sale, and contact with the church, charity, and food truck to separate members. This strategy proved to make logistics more difficult as we had to coordinate drop-offs with the member in communication with the church.”

    This organization strategy stood out to me, since this is the way our team has initially split responsibilities. It seems like the crux of this strategy is not only having a dedicated Project Manager overseeing all of the moving elements, but also to make sure that lines of communication are consistently open and the roles have the flexibility to adjust if they’re not meeting the needs of the team.

    The food truck situation is particularly interesting to me from an events standpoint, because it seems rather unlikely that you would have had a contracted back-up option. The note on contracting with vendors seems to be key here – and that there are items that include contingency plans or some form of resource (compensation?) if the vendor bails in the immediate 24 hours before the event.

    Lastly, thank you for the key takeaway of building slack into the timeline. From events experience, I think this is the strongest factor when day-of timelines start to come undone. With slack in the timeline and conservative time estimates (setup, opening, closing/tearing down), I think it sets the entire event up for a better chance of success. Our team will certainly remember this when scheduling our day-of timelines.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *