How to Host a Trunk or Treat Fundraiser

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 decorate their cars for Halloween, creating elaborate scenes out of their trunks. “Trunkers” hand out candy and non-food items to children walking between vehicles.

Step 1

Plan the Date, Time, and Location

When to hold a trunk or treat fundraiser?

Trunk or treat events are held in mid- to late-October. Consider your fundraising calendar, local weather, holidays, and school days off.

How long should the event last?

Average duration is 1 ½-2 hours, 2-3 if combined with a festival.

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 fundraiser? 

The average cost of admission is $5 per person — both children and adults should pay. Offer family deals that include tickets for food and games.

Pre-sales are essential but 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? 

Thinking of charging for trunk spots at your event? It’s a great way to boost donations! Here’s how it works:

  • Regular trunk spots: $10-$30. Sweeten the deal by including admission for two kiddos and even throw in the candy so trunkers don’t have to!
  • Got local businesses wanting in? Offer them a special trunk spot for $150-$250. It’s a win-win as they get to advertise, and your fundraising goes through the roof! 🎃💰
Step 3

Identify Additional Ways to Raise Money

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 , social media posts, or flyers that go home.

Sell food

Allow families to pre-order food such as pizzas or bring in a couple of food trucks. One school combined their trunk or treat fundraiser with a chili dinner! 

You can also sell concessions at the event, such as donuts, hot chocolate, or pretzels, using our Bluetooth card readers and mobile apps to keep all of your funds in one place.

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.  Make each game two tickets and sell tickets for $1 each or in bundles as pre-sales or during the event.Here are some game ideas:

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

There are lots of great fall fundraisers you can combine. 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. (Pssst…. You can also collect open amount donations in Cheddar Up.)

Step 4

Market Your Trunk or Treat Event

Get the word out! Share information about the event early and often to your community. Promote through social media, flyers, banners, community newsletters, and teacher announcements. Include a QR code on all of your communications to make it easy.

Step 5

Collect Sign Ups and Pre-Sales

Collect sign ups for trunk participation and pre-sales 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.

Set up a trunk or treat sign up sheet online. Include volunteer and trunk participation sign ups.

Want more ideas? See an example of how one high school 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 to sign up 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! Set rules for safe and family-friendly participation. Create a schedule and provide tips for a successful event.

Example Rules for Trunk or Treat Participants

Here are some rules that you can modify for your community. You can create these in Cheddar Up, too. Set it up as a waiver to complete when they sign up. Don’t forget to include it as a reminder just before the event.


  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

  • Award the coolest trunk! 🏆
  • Stock up on candy; nobody likes running out! 🍬
  • Guide trunkers on candy quantities or hand it out yourself (1-2 pieces per kid).
  • Rally family candy donations. Drop a box at the entrance or ask for cash contributions. 📦
  • Set up an allergy-friendly non-candy zone for those little sweet tooths who can’t partake. 🚫
  • Keep the vibe alive with a DJ or some thrilling, spooky tunes! 🎵
  • Tell trunkers to be candy-wise; ration so every kid gets their share. 🧐
  • Make it clear if parents can drop off their trick-or-treaters or need to stay. 🚗

Trunk or treat fundraisers are a fun way to gather community support. Organize effectively and make use of Cheddar Up’s features to ensure a rewarding experience.

Make it Easy

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

Collect for FREE

Whether you’re collecting dues and fees, fundraising, managing an event, creating a sign up, or selling something online or in-person, you can do it with a Cheddar Up collection.

You’ll want to ask your group’s organizer for a link. For privacy reasons, it’s not possible to search for this on Cheddar Up.

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