A church in Norfolk, Virginia needed a creative way to raise some money for a youth group project.

Feeling that the congregation may be weary of always being asked to donate for various endeavors, the pastor decided that it was time to do something a little different.

The group needed to raise about $500. Some of the boys in the group had been learning about car maintenance, and one of the boys came up with the idea to hold an oil change fundraiser. Since the boys had learned how to change oil, they would be able to provide all of the labor.

The pastor agreed to let the group do the oil change in the parking lot of the church. After checking local laws to be sure this wouldn’t violate any city ordinances, the group got busy advertising. They hung flyers around town, advertised in the church bulletin and even got a couple of local mechanics to refer oil change customers to them for the one day of the event.

Customers had the option of bringing their own oil filter and oil and paying a flat fee of $15.00 or for $30.00 all materials would be provided. The boys broke up into four groups of two, so that up to four cars could be worked on at a time.

To prevent buying materials that would not be used, one older boy with a license was appointed as the runner. After a customer paid, he would run down to the local auto parts store to buy the materials. This assured that not one dollar was wasted on materials that weren’t needed.

All day long, there was a steady stream of cars. The boys changed the oil in almost 30 cars that day. They raised $621, which included some tips. Below are a few of the ways that the group pulled off a successful fundraiser.

  • They asked the ladies group to make desserts and donate coffee and soda to serve to their customers while they waited. They advertised that “free refreshments” would be served during the event.
  • The idea to work with local mechanics was brilliant. The event was held on a Saturday, which is typically a very busy day for mechanics. Often mechanics are unable to cater to every customer due to such heavy traffic. When a customer asked for an oil change, the mechanic said something like, “I’m too backed up to change your oil, but there is a group of boys down the street who will do it for only $30, and they will serve you refreshments while you wait…” Several of the cars they serviced were referrals from the mechanics.
  • They advertised aggressively. They hung colorful flyers all over town. They enlisted the pastor to mention the event from the pulpit several times. On the day of the event, they had young men standing on the corner with large signs, pointing people to the event.

As a nice bonus, this event allowed people from the community to be introduced to the church. People that otherwise may never have known about the church were able to interact with members as they enjoyed some refreshments while waiting for their cars to be worked on.

The event was so successful that it became an annual fundraiser. The event earns more money each year, and they have added car washing and raffles for gas cards to the event.

From start to finish, this event was handled by the boys who needed the funds.

In addition to raising more than enough money, it allowed the boys to work as a team and to learn that they could accomplish something if they worked hard and worked together.