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Using Car Shows as Charity Fundraisers - Part 3


If your car show will be judged, rather than just a display opportunity, your judging committee needs to first determine the type of judging, whether it is people's choice, a professional judging panel, etc. Some car owners prefer that attendees and their peers judge the cars, others prefer to have local professionals make the decision. Not everyone will agree, so you have to choose the style that is right for your group. There is extra work involved with recruiting judges, so that is something to keep in mind.

Whether people's choice or judged, it is crucial to determine your judging standards ahead of time. There needs to be specific criteria on which each car and truck is judged, and it needs to be consistent for all participants. Examples of judging criteria might include paint, interior, wheels, etc.

Next, you'll need to figure out a list of judging categories you will want to offer. Major categories might include street rods, factory/restored original cars, modified cars, factory/restored original trucks, modified trucks, special interest vehicles, young car owners, etc. You can then break down each of those categories into particular year ranges. On a side note, some shows combine cars and trucks into one category, and define them simply by years and/or modifications, while others keep cars and trucks in separate categories. Judging can be a complex process, so it is best to have someone who has previously participated in or judged car shows to help devise your strategy.

If you decide to have professionals judge the cars, you need to recruit help well in advance of the event. Talk to local car clubs, mechanics, repair shops and restoration shops for the names of possible candidates. Before you advertise the show, you'll need to figure out what sort of awards you will offer. For example, some shows present a trophy to the first-place car/truck in each category and a plaque to second and third. Or, you might only award a trophy/plaque to the first-place winner.

You might also offer "special" awards. For example, you might name an award after a major sponsor and let a representative from the company pick their favorite car. Another idea, to help promote local car club participation, is to award a trophy or plaque to the club with the most members in attendance. Be creative!


To help raise additional money, you may want to charge a small admission fee for spectators. Since car shows tend to be a family-friendly event, you might consider not charging a fee for children and keeping the adult admission price relatively low, perhaps around $5. That way, a larger family can afford to attend.


Once you have figured out your judging categories, your registration committee will need to decide how owners will register. Do you want to offer the opportunity to register early, and perhaps offer an early registration discount? Do you want all the owners to just register at the show? Are you going to find a way to offer online registration?

Whether paper or online, you'll need to create a registration form that will collect important details about each car and its owner (name, address, phone, email, club affiliation, vehicle year/make/model/color, judging category, etc.).

To keep check-in and registration moving, it's helpful to put together registration packets that you can simply hand to car owners when they arrive. Include a schedule of the day's events, meal tickets, T-shirts, prize drawing tickets, etc.

It might be nice to offer a small token of your appreciation for registering and attending your show. Car owners often like dash plaques, small metal "stickers" that commemorate the shows they attend. They can be purchased for around $3 each from your local trophy shop, and that might be an item that could be donated to your event by offering an in-kind sponsorship to a local trophy shop. Some events offer a T-shirt as part of their registration fee, but that can be a major cut from your fundraising total if you don't have a large operating budget. Like with your awards, be creative with your registration gift(s)! If you don't like the idea of dash plaques or T-shirts, find a way to relate the gift to your chosen charity.