Looking for a fun way to raise money—and awareness—with online fundraising? Try designing and selling custom T-shirts using these T-shirt fundraising tips from Bonfire and YouCaring.
A great T-shirt can have many advantages for fundraisers, donors, and beneficiaries:
- T-shirt sales raise money for your cause.
- You raise awareness every time someone wears your shirt.
- You get free online publicity—a great T-shirt gives supporters something to photograph and share on social media.
You can raise money from people who are more comfortable buying something than making donations. So what’s the best way to sell T-shirts to supporters? Is there an upfront investment to print the shirts? How do you go about designing them? Are T-shirts a good fit for your particular kind of fundraiser? We’re here to answer these questions and more.
YouCaring is a crowdfunding platform that helps people, groups, and communities raise funds in the face of life’s challenges. Bonfire helps you raise funds by selling T-shirts in support of your cause. Both platforms are free to use, and it’s easy to use them together.
2. Assess your community and audience
Think about the people who’ve already donated to your YouCaring fundraiser. Would they donate again if you offered a T-shirt? Even if only a few of your existing donors would buy a shirt, T-shirt campaigns can motivate a different kind of person to give. Often, people who couldn’t bring themselves to donate, say, $50 to your YouCaring campaign will happily buy $50 in T-shirts to support your cause.
What inspires or motivates your donors? How about the people you’d like to reach? Think about the motivations of different donor groups. If your audience is large and diverse, you might want to make different shirt designs to reach these different audiences.
3. Consider your cause
Certain types of fundraising campaigns do particularly well with T-shirts added to the mix. Adoption, mission trips, pet rescue, and treatment assistance campaigns tend to perform well on Bonfire. One common thread in these successful campaigns is a robust and engaged community rallying in support of your cause. So if you’re looking to raise funds for a similar cause, make sure your design appeals to that community.
4. Create an awesome design
Today, it’s easier than ever to design shirts online. Bonfire’s intuitive design tool makes it easy to create a custom design, even if you don’t have a graphics background. We also offer a selection of free designs for popular causes—every one of which can be personalized.
When you’re designing your shirt, consider what you know about your target audience. If your community is large and engagement is strong, you can design a T-shirt that’s very specific to the cause. On the other hand, if you hope to expand your community through your T-shirt fundraiser or want the design to go viral, use a design that could appeal to both strangers and would-be supporters.
5. Promote and sell your product
Now it’s time to sell shirts online. Once your shirt is ready, promote it. Add the link to your Bonfire campaign to your YouCaring fundraiser page, and add your YouCaring link to your Bonfire campaign. Send a message to your supporters on YouCaring inviting them to buy shirts to support your cause.
Next, it’s selfie time. Encourage supporters who buy your shirts to take pictures of themselves wearing it—and to share those images on social media to promote your cause. Share these pictures in your fundraising updates as well. And promote your shirts on social media, on your organization’s website, or on a blog. Get a shirt of your own and share photos of yourself wearing it.
When you’re using shirts to promote your cause, we recommend creating a schedule of key promotion dates. For example, you’ll want to post a Facebook update every day during the last three days of your campaign, reminding supporters (and would-be supporters) that they have only a few days left to get a shirt. Find more tips for marketing your T-shirt fundraising campaign at Bonfire.
6. Finish strong
When your Bonfire campaign ends, if you’ve sold enough shirts to print, we produce them, ship them to your supporters, and send your campaign its share of the proceeds.
Beyond raising money, people who use Bonfire love seeing their community wearing the shirt that supports their cause. Supporters often take pictures of themselves—alone or with others wearing the same design—in meaningful locations. This can help raise the spirits of beneficiaries, and give everyone involved a feeling of community.
You and your supporters can share these pictures on social media as well—pair them with an announcement that your campaign has ended, or announce a relaunch. Keep your community updated with what’s next and how their purchase helps your cause.