A coat-check service is an easy way to make money this winter.
By William F. Stier, Jr., ed.d.
Winter weather got you down? Beat the cold-weather blues by using this time of year to make some serious cash for your squad. Bulky winter coats, hats and scarves may keep you toasty when outside, but they’re a pain in the neck to tote around or keep on your lap at a sporting event, museum, movie theater, concert or playhouse. Give people in your community a place to hang their hats (and coats and scarves) by operating a coat check at local events. Read on for how to get started on this super-simple fundraiser.
At a Glance: Your squad provides a coat-check service at various indoor community events.
Profitability Potential: Up to $1,000
Initial Squad Investment: $25
Fee Structure: Charge a dollar per person/coat. You can charge more depending on the event, and don’t forget to put out a tip jar for bonus bucks!
Lead Time Required: You’ll only need a week or two to plan the fundraiser, get permission from the event coordinators to operate the coat-check service and to round up volunteers to work at the various events.
Repeat Potential: This project is so simple that it can be repeated throughout the winter months and every year following.
Target Audience: Everyone attending the events are prime candidates for taking advantage of your coat check.
Check on It
Your first step should be to make a list of all the possible activities where you could implement a coat-check service. Winter sports events, such as swimming, wrestling and gymnastics meets are a good start, and even if you cheer for
basketball, you can still host the coat check by asking your friends, families or another squad to stand in for you on game nights while you’re cheering.
Don’t forget about other events in the community that draw sizable crowds and potential customers during the cold months, such as
local playhouses, movie theaters, concert halls, museums and even the mall.
Once you’ve completed your list of events, work with your coach and team parents to approach the managers or administrators in charge of these activities and pitch the idea that your squad would provide an on-site service where patrons and customers would be able to safely (and for a reasonable cost) check their coats and hats, while they enjoy the event they’ve come to see without having to deal with cumbersome winter wear while sitting in a small seat or bleachers.
There are two ways you can charge for your coat-check service. First, you can use a per-coat or per-person fee of $1 or more depending on the community and the event. For example, you can charge up to $5 per coat if you’re working at a fancy museum event. If you choose this option, be sure to set out a tip jar, where customers can see that you’re raising money for a good cause, and they may be likely to drop in some change or a few extra bills for your effort.
The second option is to host a “free” or “by donation” service. This means customers can pay you a donation of whatever they think is reasonable for your service.
Whichever method you choose, be sure to hang proper signage indicating that your team is hosting the fundraiser and why your squad is raising money. And remember, a smile and a “thank you” always encourage generosity!
Get Your Act Together
All that you need for this project to be successful, in addition to permission of those in charge of the events, is a secure room or closet to hold the items of clothing, two-part paper tickets or plastic tags (one for the hanger and coat and another for the customer), a cash box with a lock, hangers and a coat rack. Most organizations can also provide coat racks or their equivalent, so make sure to ask beforehand.
As far as volunteers, the greater number involved, the better. A large number of volunteers helps spread the work around and doesn’t overburden any single helper. Typically, there should be at least three workers present at the beginning and at the end of the events to help staff the coat-check operation. At other times you might be able to do with only two. Volunteers are needed well before each event starts and should stay at least 30 to 45 minutes after the event is officially over, to allow time for the patrons or fans to pick up their coats and hats. Unclaimed items should be retained in a lost-and-found container on-site so that the rightful owners can return at a later date to identify and claim their property.
The Uh-Oh Factor
There are two risks associated with this project. First, there is always the possibility of someone’s coat or hat being lost, misplaced or
damaged. Be sure and place a sign that is clearly visible to all customers that says, “We are not responsible for loss or damage to any items checked.” Also, your coach should check with the facility’s management to ensure that the organization’s umbrella (liability) insurance policy covers those working the coat check operation or whether you need to bring waivers. The second risk involves the volunteers who indicate that they’ll work certain hours on certain nights—only to be no-shows. Anticipate this by having a back-up roster of volunteers who will lend a last-minute hand for other individuals who cancel.
Spread the Word
As far as publicity goes, you don’t need to do much in advance. Almost all of the marketing efforts connected with this fundraising project are concentrated on-site through signs posted at each event. You’ll need large, bright, easy-to-read signs that inform those in
attendance about the availability of the coat-check service, and let those in attendance know that the proceeds will benefit your team.
Do It Again
This is an ideal fundraising project that can be redone each year at the same sites, and new sites can be added in the future as well. It’s
important to leave each site in as good, if not better, condition than you found it. And be sure and thank those organizations that allowed your group to set up the coat-check service, as you want to leave a good impression so that you can repeat the fundraiser in following years.