How to Organise an Eco Friendly Swish Clothes Swap Fundraiser
Amazing atmosphere at charity clothes swap SWISH event
My SWISH Clothes Swap fundraiser went brilliantly on Saturday. There were around 40 attendees including my amazing team of volunteers. The atmosphere was lovely, it was buzzing - you can see from the pictures attached how much fun everyone had. It was an awesome team effort and I really appreciate everyone who supported the event. We had over a dozen large bags of clothes left over to donate to Sharewear and I'm delighted to tell you that we raised £1066 for Maggie's Nottingham which makes the total raised in mum's memory £11092 to date.
I've had several people message me this week saying that I've inspired them to organise Swishes to raise funds for their causes and asking me for tips and advice. There are lots of ways to go about running them but here's my step by step guide of I organise mine.
Tips on organising a SWISH clothes swap fundraiser
If you look up the word swish in the dictionary it means to move something around and it can also mean elegant and fashionable ‘Oooh that’s a bit swish!’. It makes total sense then, to use the term for clothes swapping event.
I’m very fortunate to have a group of willing and competent volunteers who make my events a real team effort. We have evolved our system over time to make things as streamlined and easy as possible to run so that no one has too much to do. I have been happy to pass on the benefit of my experience to several other organisers of swish fundraisers over the past couple of years too – here’s the outline of how I run mine.
It really is a win-win way of raising funds for charity and can be a great social event too. We’ve learnt from our mistakes at the first couple so if it’s something you think might be useful read on to benefit from our experience.
Here's how I run my Swish events
Set the date and book your venue. Ideally this will be a large space with kitchen facilities to serve refreshments from. Enough space for tables and chairs for attendees to sit and chat with their coffee and cake. You’ll also need large tables to lay the clothes out on. I like to make sure there is plenty of parking and good accessibility too. Keep the costs as low as possible for room hire as this will come out of your takings – I book the church hall for 4 hours - one for prep, two for the event, one to clear up.
Enlist your volunteers and appoint co-ordinators to take responsibility for their bit. You will need a ‘kitchen team’ to sort the refreshments, a ‘sorting team’ to organise the clothes prior to the swishing and a ‘raffle team’ to organise and sell the raffle tickets. You only need to recruit the coordinators – let them recruit their team of helpers. This way it spreads the workload. It helps to create a messenger/WhatsApp chat group to keep the energy up and all discussions in one place.
Ask around your network for raffle prizes; these can be anything from tombola type prizes to vouchers for services. We usually procure prizes totalling to ££££’s as many of my business network are happy to donate vouchers for their services which are high ticket prices. You could be creative and have folk offering to do an hours gardening/ironing etc. The way I run the raffle is great for niche products or services – more on that shortly.
Set up a Just Giving account so that you minimise the need to handle the money. You promote this link and people donate their ticket money directly. On the day you may still have a few people pay on the door but encourage them to book in advance. This helps with planning for refreshments and seating requirements. You will need to note the names and create a guestlist to tick off at the door. You can download a csv file from just giving.
Get someone who is tech savvy and familiar with social media to create an event on Facebook/Eventbrite with the ticket link and encourage your network to promote it by sharing with their network. Keep the energy going by drip feed posting across your social media and asking people to share. You might get some local media coverage too if you create a press release to circulate.
Ask for people to bring clothes airers (to drape scarves over) and full-length mirrors on the day.
On the day of the SWISH fundraising event
Team arrive 1pm to set up. You have the kitchen, a welcome table and a raffle area plus clothes tables, clothes airers & mirrors to organise.
Clothes tables - label them in sizes 10’s, 12’s, 14’s etc. Have an area for accessories. (You can have hanging rails and hangers, but this makes for a lot more work and organising.) It will look a bit like a jumble sale as soon as people start looking but that’s half the fun.
Kitchen – we always have a selection of teas, coffee plus home baked cakes inc gluten free/dairy free/vegan etc and clearly label them. These are unlimited to guests so make sure you have plenty.
Welcome table – you need the guest list printed off and slips of paper with the to hand out of the itinerary, so people know what to expect.
Raffle – have plastic pots, one per prize. Label the pots with the prize details. When you sell the tickets, give the buyer both tickets. They choose which pots to put their tickets in and keep the other half so they know if their number is drawn out. Each pot is then drawn separately. This ensures that people only win prizes that they actually want. You could also have a lucky dip prize or tombola.
Doors open at 2pm. Guests drop off their ONE bag for life of stuff and the items are allocated to the appropriate tables while guests enjoy refreshments and mingle.
Organisers talk at 2.30pm. A short talk explaining the rules of swishing – you only take what fits, so try on. No minesweeping, give everyone a fair chance etc (I always deliver a short talk about something to do with clothes/style too.) Also explain why you’re raising money.
Swishing commences at 2.45pm
Raffle drawn at 3.45pm
4pm Thank everyone for coming and ask everyone to help clear up one black bag each
Have a team of people ready to take the bags of leftovers to the charity shop
Tot up the money and put your feet up with a glass of wine.
This is our method that has been refined over 7 events now and I think we've cracked it - my team are like a well oiled machine.
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