T-shirt Fundraiser: How to Raise Funds With Custom T-shirts

Is there a cause that deeply matters to you and you need funds to support it? A great idea is […]

Mark Jackson

President at SwagDrop

Is there a cause that deeply matters to you and you need funds to support it?

A great idea is to do a t-shirt fundraiser that’ll help you raise money for your chosen mission. 

However, we understand that fundraising can be quite tricky and that’s why we’ve created this concise guide that’ll take you through the following topics:

  • What t-shirt fundraising is
  • Inspiring examples of t-shirt fundraisers
  • Types of t-shirts to consider for your t-shirt fundraiser
  • Useful tips for a successful t-shirt fundraiser

Let’s jump right into a simple definition of t-shirt fundraiser. 

Table of Contents

What is T-shirt Fundraising?

4 Examples of T-shirt Fundraising Campaigns to Inspire You

11 T-shirts to Consider in Your Next Fundraiser

4 Tips for Successful T-shirt Fundraisers

What is T-shirt Fundraising?

A t-shirt fundraiser is a popular crowdfunding idea for raising money for your nonprofit or to support any important and good cause by creating and selling customized apparel. 

Selling custom apparel – in this case, t-shirts – is a great opportunity to offer your donors a gift in return for their support. 

In other words, in a t-shirt fundraiser, a nonprofit organization or company sells personalized t-shirts in order to raise money as well as bring awareness to the cause behind the fundraiser. 

At the same time, those who donate to the cause, get a piece of clothing back as a thank you for their donation. 

Such crowdfunding campaigns can be very effective in terms of raising considerable donation amounts, as well as making a wider audience aware of good causes. 

A t-shirt fundraiser can be hosted online and run through the organization’s social media profiles, online store, or website. 

Many organizations are also creating individual campaign pages where potential donors can learn more about the organization, its values, and also get informed about the different perks that the organization will offer when they make a donation. 

Here’s an example of one of the most popular nonprofit organizations in the world, WWF:

Image Source: WWF

As you can see, by clicking on the Donate button, supporters can select whether they want to make a one-off donation or donate on a monthly basis. 

As a “thank you” gift, they can also get two totes which is one of the most popular merchandise items

Moreover, there are specific fundraising platforms and fundraising websites that organizations can use to bring bigger audiences to the organization. 

Here are a few examples of popular  fundraising websites:

  • Crowdfunder
  • GoFundMe
  • Kickstarter

Last but not least, a t-shirt fundraiser can also take place in physical stores or through organizing fundraising events that those interested in the cause can attend. 

Author’s Note: If you want to have a look at fundraising item alternatives, you can take a look at these sixteen great fundraising merchandise ideas.

Before we get into some killer t-shirt fundraising examples, we need to stress that raising funds in such a way can be truly useful as it allows organizations to get money that will allow them to keep running and fighting for its cause, while also offering the donors an item in return for their financial support to the cause. 

4 Examples of T-shirt Fundraising Campaigns to Inspire You

As promised, in this section we’re looking at four amazing fundraising ideas using t-shirts. 

Let’s get started with our first example.

Example #1: Maison Margiela x Association AIDES

Image Source: Instagram

Our first inspiring t-shirt fundraising campaign comes from 2019 when Maison Margiela designed a collection to fight AIDS and donated a portion of the sales from the collection to the nonprofit organization AIDES. 

First things first, Maison Margiela is a renowned luxury fashion brand headquartered in Paris and AIDES is a community-based nonprofit organization based in France that fights against HIV/AIDS and also provides support to those affected by the disease. 

In 2019, Maison Margiela created a limited edition fundraising collection of apparel and bags with a quote that says it all:

“There is more action to be done to fight AIDS than to wear this t-shirt but it’s a good start” 

We particularly like this example that shows just how influential customized items can be when they’re products of thoughtfulness and creativity. 

Let’s get to the next example. 

Example #2: The Star Trek Voyager Documentary

Image Source: Indiegogo

Our second example is a t-shirt given to those who donated to a very successful crowdfunding campaign for The Star Trek Voyager Documentary. 

As part of the fundraising campaign, the production team created and offered a wide range of great swag items that backers would get for their pledges. 

The Tuvok Rocks tee, shown above, is just one out of many items that donors could choose from. 

The campaign, which ended with $1,309,188 from over 12,300 backers, is going to bring a Star Trek Voyager documentary to life. 

Moving on. 

Example #3: The Veronica Mars Movie Project

Image Source: Kickstarter

Similar to the example we saw earlier, Veronica Mars, a teen mystery television series that premiered in 2004, also launched a crowdfunding campaign almost a decade later that would allow the team to financially support a Veronica Mars movie project. 

More specifically, the team created a number of different swag items, including stickers and the tee you see above. 

Wanna know more about it?

Well, it was a limited-edition t-shirt created specifically for the campaign and available only for Kickstarter campaign backers. 

As good as it gets!

Example #4: Virgil Abloh & Jenny Holzer x Planned Parenthood Los Angeles

Image Source: Hypebeast

Our final example comes from the founder of high-end clothing brand, Off-White,  Virgil Abloh with artist Jenny Holzer for the nonprofit organization Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. 

Planned Parenthood is a nonprofit organization that provides its audience with sex education and specialized reproductive healthcare. 

To support the causes of the organization, creatives Virgil Abloh and Jenny Holzer designed the limited run t-shirt you can see in the screenshot above, as well as a few alternative designs that audience members could get when donating to Planned Parenthood L.A. 

We’ve now completed all four examples of inspiring t-shirt fundraisers and we’re ready to dive deeper into your own t-shirt fundraising with different t-shirt designs and styles for you to consider. 

Keep reading to find out more. 

11 T-shirts to Consider in Your Next Fundraiser

T-shirt #1: The Crew Neck T-shirt

We’re kicking off our list of the most versatile types of t-shirts to use in your next t-shirt fundraiser with the ever-popular, crew neck t-shirt. 

Image Source: S&S Activewear

A crew neck t-shirt is ideal for any customization and personalization ideas you may have. 

In other words, it just makes the perfect canvas for featuring your own design, hassle-free. 

Whether you want to do hand painting, screen printing, or digital printing, a bulk order of crew neck t-shirts can be ready in no time. 

Plus, you’ll have a classic piece of swag that everyone loves to wear. 

T-shirt #2: The Polo Collar T-shirt

Our second t-shirt on the list is the polo collar t-shirt

Image Source: S&S Activewear

As you probably already know, this type of t-shirt features a stiff polo collar which makes it a great choice for pulling off a casual style with a sense of formality. 

Traditionally, polo shirts have been worn by golfers, tennis players, members of private clubs, and other rich male members of society performing outdoor activities. 

Today, a polo shirt can be easily worn by men and women. 

What’s more, it can be combined with any other streetwear garment and it’s not associated with high-class men anymore.

T-shirt #3: The Henley T-shirt

The third type of t-shirt we want to show you is the Henley, also called Y neck, t-shirt

Image Source: S&S Activewear

Henley shirts are very popular – mostly among men – because they come with a breeze of sophistication. 

The shirt features a buttoning placket which makes it a bit more complex and attractive than the common t-shirt. 

T-shirt #4: The Pocket T-shirt

Similar to the one we’ve just discussed, the pocket t-shirt is yet another alternative to the traditional t-shirt. 

Image Source: S&S Activewear

As its name suggests, this t-shirt comes with a flat pocket that is placed on the right or left side of the chest. 

Even though a pocket in a tee is nowadays mostly decorative, back in the 1950s the little pocket was used to store small items, like pens, cigarettes, etc.

T-shirt #5: The V Neck T-shirt

This one might be controversial, but we couldn’t miss the opportunity of featuring the v- neck t-shirt. 

Image Source: S&S Activewear

The v-neck shirt is one that you probably either love or hate. 

In fact, there’s an ongoing discussion about whether a v-neck is attractive or unattractive as well as if one can be worn by both men and women and at what length. 

Our experience allows us to say that there are still many v-neck fans out there, so don’t hesitate to include this type of apparel in your t-shirt fundraiser along with a killer custom design. 

T-shirt #6: The Sleeveless T-shirt

When summer is approaching, we’re all thinking about wearing a lightweight, minimal sleeveless t-shirt, also called a tank top or vest for our UK readers, that’ll help us keep cool. 

Image Source: S&S Activewear

Although many might avoid this type of garment because it leaves the arms and part of the chest uncovered, we think it’s a versatile piece of apparel that can totally work in a custom t-shirt fundraiser. 

T-shirt #7: The Cap Sleeves T-shirt

An old-time classic in terms of custom t-shirts is the cap sleeves tee

Image Source: S&S Activewear

This particular tee comes with short sleeves that cover the shoulder but leave the upper arm, as well as the rest of the arm uncovered. 

In terms of the neckline of such a t-shirt, there are endless options. 

Its versatility makes it perfect for t-shirt fundraisers that want to provide the audience with a wide range of stylish tees.

T-shirt #8: The Long-sleeve T-shirt

After having seen different types of short sleeve shirts as well as a sleeveless shirt, it’s time to talk about the long-sleeve one

Image Source: S&S Activewear

A long sleeve shirt is great for pretty much all seasons of the year, which makes it a great risk-free option in case you decide to go with it for your t-shirt campaign. 

These are usually available in full-length sleeves as well as three-quarter sleeves which are a bit shorter. 

T-shirt #9: The Raglan Sleeve T-shirt

Following up from the long sleeve t-shirt is a type of tee that’s particularly popular, the Raglan sleeve t-shirt

Image Source: S&S Activewear

The sleeve in this one is attached to the rest of the tee following a diagonal seam that goes all the way from the collarbone to the underarm. 

Because of this unique diagonal seam, Raglan sleeve shirts usually feature two different colors – one for the main shirt and one for the sleeves. 

T-shirt #10: The Turtleneck T-shirt

Our second to last list item is the turtleneck, also called roll-neck

Image Source: S&S Activewear

Undoubtedly, turtlenecks with their short or long turnover collar are iconic.

Who doesn’t remember Steve Jobs’ signature black turtleneck or Marilyn Monroe wearing a similar one back in the 1950s?

They are very stylish and adaptable no matter the wearers’ attire or taste.

Honestly, we can’t recommend turtlenecks enough!

T-shirt #11: The Organic Cotton T-shirt

If you’ve been reading our blog, you probably know just how much we care about eco-friendly merchandise and sustainability. 

Put another way, we believe in swag that will last!

That’s why we think an organic cotton tee is a must for a custom t-shirt peer fundraising campaign. 

Image Source: S&S Activewear

An organic cotton tee can be of any style you want it to be, long or short-sleeved, sleeveless, with pockets or without. 

As long as it’s made of sustainable materials, it’s good to go!

Author’s Note: Alternative eco-friendly materials to organic cotton are recycled polyester, hemp, and bamboo. 

4 Tips for Successful T-shirt Fundraisers

After having discussed the main t-shirt types you could consider for raising awareness for your cause while also raising money, we’ve still got some tips to give you to make sure that your fundraiser will be successful.

Let’s get started with our first tip. 

Tip #1: Define your fundraiser goals

The first tip for any fundraiser is to define your fundraising goals. 

In other words, before you even start thinking about your designs and the type of swag you’ll be sharing, it’s essential to get things straight in terms of what your fundraiser is created for. 

Knowing your goals will allow you to better communicate your message as well as the whole concept behind your campaign to your audience. 

Consequently, having created a thought-through campaign will help you increase your chances of getting a wide range of people supporting it. 

Moreover, in order to create a successful campaign that’s articulate and will efficiently convince supporters to take action, you need to make sure that your message is loud and clear for people to see and understand. 

Additionally, a well-structured campaign can be relatable for lots of people, which can totally help a campaign hit the mark. 

In other words, although we obviously love swag, we think it’s the thought and care that’s been put into it that makes swag important. 

Before we get to our next tip, repeat after us, I need to know what the goal of my campaign is. 

Tip #2: Create a fabulous design

When the previous step is done, we’re ready to take some action and create a fabulous design for our cool t-shirts. 

Whether it’s you, an in-house design team, or a freelance graphic designer that’ll be making the design, make sure that you’ll be working collaboratively. 

This will increase your chances of producing something that successfully captures the message of the campaign while also giving supporters a reason for buying the garment, in terms of style. 

Put another way, your message is definitely the protagonist, but creating a design that supporters would happily wear must also be in the front of your mind. 

Creating a stylish and meaningful piece of clothing will maximize your chances of people wanting to get your fundraising item and, who knows, maybe you’ll manage to create a t-shirt as iconic as the ones we saw earlier in this piece of content when we discussed four different t-shirt fundraising examples? 

You might find it helpful to actually test your logo on your tees to make sure you’ll get the result you’re hoping for. 

You can do it by using – for free! – our Swag Pack Builder

You first need to upload your logo:

Once that’s done…

…you’ll be able to see your logo on all the items on the page. 

Have a look:

In the sample logo we used, we can definitely see that there’s room for improvement in terms of fixing the white background issue and also making the logo stand out more. 

Having the opportunity to identify any issues of how the logo looks on the apparel can save us both valuable time and money. 

Moving on. 

Tip #3: Find a merch supplier you can trust

As you can probably tell, when it comes to t-shirt fundraising, or any kind of custom item creation really, finding a merch supplier that you can trust is key!

A trusted vendor will work with you throughout the whole process of:

  • Finding the best types of t-shirts to include in your t-shirt fundraiser
  • Finding the right materials that will make your design stand out
  • Making sure you’re choosing high-quality materials that’ll make your merch last
  • Creating design templates to make sure that the result will look exactly as you’ve imagined it
  • Discussing pricing options with transparency and always making sure that the t-shirt fundraiser will be cost-effective for you
  • Placing a pre-order 

Last but not least, a trusted merch supplier will discuss with you all upfront costs – if any – as well as any other costs so you have a very clear idea of what the whole cost for your organization is going to be. 

Let’s get to the final tip we want to share with you. 

Tip #4: Promote your fundraiser

Now that you’ve worked on defining your campaign goals, creating a fabulous design for your tees, and also worked with your swag supplier, you’ve completed all steps of the process. 

All that’s left now is to promote your fundraiser and make it a success. 

At this stage, you should think about whether you’d want to use a fundraising platform or run the fundraiser through your own channels, like your social media, website, or online store.

Alternatively, you might want to create a dedicated fundraiser web page or  build a pop-up store. 

Here’s how your pop-up fundraising store homepage might look:

With an individual page where supporters can find all the promotional products you’re offering as thank you gifts for their donations. 

Pretty neat, isn’t it?

No matter where your swag is going to be, make sure to promote your fundraiser on your social media, in your newsletter, or any other channels of communication you might have that will connect you with your prospective supporters. 

Let’s close this up with some final thoughts. 

Now Over to You

You’re done!

Our guide on t-shirt fundraisers is now completed. 

We don’t mean to brag, but we think we’re the best solution when it comes to helping individuals and organizations run successful t-shirt fundraising campaigns.

If you’re interested in learning more about the t-shirts featured earlier in this post or simply want to discuss your options in terms of fundraising, we’re here to help!

Keep in mind the importance of creating a thoughtful, meaningful campaign that will help you reach your fundraising goals. 

Good luck creating your tee fundraiser!

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