Getting Money for your Organization through Fundraising

The first step to start fundraising officially is to fill out the Event Planning Form for PLU student clubs and organizations, and check that you are doing a fundraiser. You can complete the form here.


The SIL staff will review the form, once submitted and clarify details on the proper way to fundraise as a club or on-campus organization and makes sure you abide by state rules on donation solicitation, raffling, product sales, and other potential fundraising issues.

What you cannot do for fundraisers

Car Wash

Clubs and organizations are not allowed to have car washes to raise funds because the car wash soap and used wash water can lower water-quality and be toxic to aquatic animals & plants in our local waters. Even “biodegradable” or “environmentally-friendly” car wash soaps pose a risk to aquatic life. Think of what soap does. It picks up dirt, oil, and nasty residues containing benzene and chromium from your car. A quick wash sends the soap ‘n grime-ladened water into storm drains towards lakes, rivers, and the Puget Sound. Unfortunately, the very properties of soap that attract pollutants also cause fish to absorb pollutants if soap contaminates their watery habitat, and since we are all connected to the food web, those contaminants may wind up on our dinner plates. Yikes.

Although washing your personal car is not a violation, having car wash fundraisers violates the “National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System” (NPDES), a federal pollutant law. Pierce County is not strict on enforcing this law. However, going green is part of being a Lute and as environmental stewards, students must consider how their actions impact the earth—and themselves!

There are alternatives for clubs and organizations that wish to car wash fundraise. See the “What you can do for fundraisers” section below.

Bake Sale

Unfortunately, bake sales are not permitted on campus due to health code violation. If you and other club members whipped up some fantastic brownies, you cannot sell them to make club money. If someone were to buy your club-made food and then get sick from eating them, Dining and Culinary Services would have to take on the liability. That’s no fun. Any food given to students on campus must either be done through PLU catering services or via a generous outside restaurant/professional food service that carries its own license and insurance to serve food.

What you can do for fundraisers

Alternative car wash ideas
Car wash coupon fundraiser

To promote a greener method of raising funds through car washing, the Puget Sound Car Wash Association offers discounted car wash coupons for schools and other non-profit groups. You can then make a profit by selling the coupons at retail price. These coupons are good for car washes at more than 50 participating car wash services located in the Puget Sound area. For more info, call 1-800-509-WASH or visit

Use a commercial car wash service space

If you still want to soap up a car yourself, look around for a commercial car wash service that recycles the used wash water or directs it into sanitary sewers, not storm drains. Politely ask the commercial service if you can hold your car wash fundraiser there. Sometimes, an incentive of 10% of your club’s profit from the car wash fundraiser or free advertising for the commercial car wash service at your next event can sweeten the deal. Giving your business sponsor a portion of your club’s profits is allowed as an honorium.

Redeemable club registration fee

Another way to jumpstart your club funds at the beginning of the year is to request a $10-$20 registration fee from your club members. You can choose to make the registration fee redeemable for each member if they complete certain club responsibilities. This method gives people that extra nudge to make the club run more smoothly. Attaching a point system to various club duties will help people see and keep track of the level of commitment they need to put into the club to earn their money back. If you favor the redeemable registration fee system, make sure that you use some of that money to fundraise for your club in another way during the year.

Got other fundraising ideas? Check with SIL.

Fundraising for a cause or outside organization

If your club is fundraising for an organization dedicated to an important cause, make sure that you are familiar with the fundraising process for that particular organization. Donations to non-profit organizations tend to be tax-deductible, so check for this detail and let your donors know how the financial side of the donation process works along with why they should donate. Some organizations provide information and tips on how to fundraise specifically for their cause. Contact them or find their website to see if they are willing to send to you pre-made fundraising kits, instructions, or guides.

Often, organizations seeking donations provide on-line donation services or donation forms and accept donations via cash, check and major name credit cards. If they accept cash donations, you may want to consolidate the cash collection by depositing them in your club account and then contact the Business Office (253-535-7171; ext: X7171) for more info on how to send out a club check to the organization. Contact with the organization first to clarify processes on handling cash donations, especially if tax-deductible donations are involved.

Always keep clear records of how much you have fundraised. If your club is personally collecting the donations and sending them off in one big batch to the organization, create an Excel file with the donor names, contact info, donation date and donation amount included to keep track of your fundraising.

Make your accounting skills work publicly as well! A display reporting your club’s fundraising progress makes great advertisement for your club project while letting people know how much more they need to contribute to reach the defined fundraising goal your club has set.