Trunk or treat fundraisers are a great way for schools, churches, or other nonprofits to raise money for their organization. At Cheddar Up, we make hosting a trunk or treat event or other fall events and fundraisers, a breeze.

What is a trunk or treat fundraiser?

Families or groups sign up to decorate their cars for Halloween, sometimes creating elaborate scenes out of their trunks. Then, the “trunkers” hand out candy and non-food items to children who walk from vehicle to vehicle, collecting treats.

Step 1

Plan the Date, Time, and Location of the Trunk or Treat Event

Trunk or treat events are often held in mid- to late-October to coincide with Halloween. When it comes to planning the date, time, and location of the event, you’ll want to consider:

    • your overall fundraising and activity calendar — can you combine the trunk or treat with another fundraiser?
    • the weather in your location — is it often snowing the last weekend of October?
    • holidays or school days off in October.
How long should the event last?

The average trunk or treat fundraiser lasts 1 ½-2 hrs. If you’re treating the Trunk or Treat like a fall festival by including food, games, raffles, and more, then host it for 2-3 hours.

Where should you host a trunk or treat event? 

A parking lot or school drop off loop is the perfect place to host a trunk or treat fundraiser. If you have a bus parking area, you can put two cars in each bus parking spot facing each other. If you’re really organized, number the parking spots and have each trunker assigned to a designated spot! Otherwise, make sure to have a parking volunteer on hand to direct the cars. 

Step 2

Determine the price of admission for the Trunk or Treat Fundraiser

There are lots of ways you can raise money for your organization at a trunk or treat event. The most common is to charge admission for the trick-or-treaters.

What should you charge families for admission to the trunk or treat event? 

The average cost of admission to an elementary school trunk or treat fundraiser is $5 per person — both children and adults should pay for admission. You can also sell package deals for families that include tickets that can be used for food and games.

Although pre-sales are essential to get an idea for attendance, you should also sell tickets at the door for a higher price. Be sure to accept credit cards! People don’t have cash. Make it easy with the Cheddar Up card reader.

Should you charge the trunkers? 

Some organizations use trunk participation as a way to increase donations. They charge $10-$30 to be a trunk participant. If you’re hosting a school trunk or treat and decide to charge for trunk participation, then most schools will include admission for two children to the event itself. If you’re charging for trunk participation, also consider providing the candy to the trunkers to hand out so they don’t have to incur the cost of treats as well. 

An exception to this is if you include corporate sponsors and vendors. This can be a great way to increase the amount raised at the event. Some organizations will allow local businesses to host a trunk and charge a much higher fee ($150-$250) for the opportunity to advertise their product or service to your community. 

Step 3

Identify Additional Ways to Raise Money

In addition to charging for admission, you can raise additional funds by selling items or sponsorships at the event. 

Corporate sponsorships

In addition to trunk participation, you can charge businesses for logo placement on a banner that is displayed, social media posts, or flyers that go home to families. 

Sell food

Allow families to pre-order food such as pizzas or bring in a couple of food trucks to cater to the hungry families. One school combined their trunk or treat fundraiser with a chili dinner! You can also sell concessions the day of the event, in person, with a Cheddar Up card reader.

Examples of concessions to sell: 

  • Pizza
  • Popcorn
  • Donuts
  • Hot Chocolate
  • Soft Pretzels
  • Baked Goods
  • Water
  • Drinks
  • Chips
Sell Spirit Items

Sell school spirit items including shirts, backpacks, vinyl stickers, or water bottles. 

Sell glow packages or silly string

Sell packages of glow sticks, glow bracelets and necklaces, and more so kids can glow at the event and on halloween. Holding the event during the daytime hours? Sell silly string!

Host a Raffle and Games

Raffle off some baskets of donated items or hold other fun festival games and prizes. Sell tickets before or during the event. Examples of games:

  • Halloween Candy Guess
  • Halloween Ring Toss
  • Halloween Roulette Wheel
  • Halloween Bean Bag Toss
  • Halloween Plinko
  • Halloween Cake Walk
  • Halloween Cornhole

You can make each game two tickets and sell tickets for $1 each or in bundles. 

Sell pumpkins

Work with a local farmer and sell pumpkins at the event or have families pre-order them and pick them up at the event. 

Combine it with another fall fundraiser

Have families pre-order holiday wreaths, boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts, or pick up some fall mums!

Accept Optional Donations

Always ask for optional additional donations at any fundraising event. 

Step 4

Market Your Trunk or Treat Event

Get the word out! Market the event early and often to your community. Try:

  • Post on social media channels
  • Send home flyers with students (include a QR code for online sign-ups – Cheddar Up makes this easy)
  • Hang a banner in front of the building
  • Include a blurb in the community newsletter
  • Have teachers talk it up in class
Step 5

Collect Signups with a Trunk or Treat Signup Sheet

Collect sign-ups for trunk participation and pre-sales for admission, food, or game tickets at least 3-4 weeks in advance. This will offload some of the pressure on the event itself and give you a better idea of attendance. 

The easiest way to do this is to set up a signup sheet online. With Cheddar Up, you can set it up in minutes — for FREE. Check out this example to see how to set up volunteer and trunk participation signups in addition to ticket sales and candy donations.

Want more ideas? See an example of how one high school senior and Girl Scout used Cheddar Up for their trunk or treat event to raise money for their orchestra program.

Step 6

Gather Volunteers and Supplies

You can’t do this alone. You’ll need volunteers for: 
  • Set up
  • Direct traffic
  • Sell tickets
  • Run games
  • Distribute food
  • Clean up
You’ll also need supplies such as: 
  • Candy!
  • Non-candy items (ex. bubbles, rings, pencils, erasers, stickers, tattoos)
  • Speakers with a spooky playlist
  • Candy buckets (if providing to trunkers)
  • Tables for food and games
  • Chairs for volunteers
  • Decorations
  • Signage to direct the flow of people
  • Sidewalk chalk or cones with numbers for the parking spaces
  • Ballots and pens (if you’re voting on best trunk or costume)
  • Prizes (if you’re voting on best trunk or costume)
Pro Tip

Ask for volunteer signups during the pre-sales process with an online form at checkout!

Step 7

Communicate with the Trunkers

The key to a successful trunk or treat event is communication! Ensure that the trunkers have everything they need to make it successful. 

Set Trunk or Treat Rules for Participants

In order to ensure you have a safe, family event it’s important to set some ground rules for trunk or treat participation. Here are some rules that you can use and modify for your community: 

  1. Trunk participants may enter any vehicle (Car, Truck, Motorcycle, Tractor etc.) as long as it is independently mobile to and from the location and fit in the parking space.

     

  2. Trunk participants must provide own power if decorations need it.

     

  3. Each vehicle must be decorated in some way, though the decorations do not need to be Halloween themed.

     

  4. Each vehicle gets one parking space.

     

  5. Vehicle decorations must be socially acceptable and appropriate for children younger than age 5. Vehicles displaying profanity and/or overtly adult themes and/or content will not be permitted to participate in the event. Event staff maintain the right to ask participants with inappropriate decoration displays to leave the event.

     

  6. Trunk or Treat attendees will be given the opportunity to vote for the vehicle that has their favorite decorations.

     

  7. Each trunk participant must arrive with wrapped candy to distribute to attendees. Trunk participants will under no circumstances be permitted to distribute unwrapped candy or food products. [INCLUDE RECOMMENDED PIECES OF CANDY BASED ON ESTIMATED ATTENDEES]

  8. Trunk participants will be permitted to distribute flyers, cards, or information advertising their group, business, or programs. Trunk participants will not be permitted to sell any items from their cars or solicit cash or donations in any way. This includes tips.

     

  9. Trunk participants should arrive with their decorated vehicles by [INCLUDE TIME 1/2 HOUR PRIOR TO EVENT] in order to be prepared to begin passing out candy at [START TIME OF EVENT] when the event begins. Vehicles may arrive as early as [ONE HOUR PRIOR TO EVENT] should they require additional set-up time. We ask that no vehicles leave prior to [END TIME OF THE EVENT] when the event ends.

     

  10. An adult must remain with the vehicle at all times.

Example Trunk or Treat Schedule

4:00-5:00 p.m.: Trunkers arrive and set up between this time

5:00 p.m.: Candy buckets will be distributed to trunkers by this time

5:10 p.m.: Trunkers in place and trunks ready; Early entry begins for students with special needs

5:30 p.m.: Event opens to all students

7:00 p.m.: Event Ends, cars can leave

Other tips for a successful trunk or treat fundraiser

  • Have prizes for best trunk.

     

  • Make sure you have enough candy! 
    • Let trunkers know how many pieces they should have based on your estimated attendance OR purchase the candy and give it to the trunkers to hand out (1-2 pieces per attendee). 
    • You can also ask families for candy donations — set up a box at the front door of your building or ask for cash donations to put towards the candy.

       

  • Have a non-candy station for kids who have severe allergies or can not have candy.

     

  • Have a DJ or at least speakers with some spooky music!

     

  • Remind trunkers to ration their candy so they don’t run out.

     

  • Specify whether it’s a student drop-off event or not.

In short, before you go

Trunk or treat fundraisers can be a great way to raise money for your community. It takes some work to set up but it will be rewarding for all involved! Make the process fun and manageable, and enhance it with Cheddar Up’s savvy features.

Make it Easy

Set up your Trunk or Treat Fundraiser in minutes with Cheddar Up

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