Crowdfunding is one of the most powerful forms of fundraising you can engage in. It doesn’t matter if you’re a nonprofit leader undertaking a community project or an individual fundraising for a personal mission—crowdfunding is wildly beneficial for any cause. It enables you to gain visibility, raise money, and engage your community all at once.
But what if you could raise the stakes a little bit? Imagine if there was a simple strategy to unite your community under your cause and give yourself a more engaging way to advertise your campaign, all without adding any risk to your mission. Enter t-shirt crowdfunding.
T-shirt crowdfunding adds an extra incentive for people to fund your campaign. Instead of simply donating to a good cause, your supporters can donate to a good cause and receive a t-shirt in return. The benefits don’t stop there, though! This guide will take a deep dive into the vast array of advantages this type of campaign offers. We’ll cover how:
- T-shirt crowdfunding builds connections within your community
- It doubles as a marketing tactic
- T-shirt crowdfunding offers long-term benefits for your cause
- It’s easily accessible to many people
- T-shirt crowdfunding builds excitement for the end goal
After covering these benefits, we’ll explore next steps, so you can jump straight into your campaign. Ready to kick your fundraising strategy into high gear and learn more about t-shirt crowdfunding? Let’s get started!
1. T-shirt crowdfunding builds connections within your community.
You’re most likely starting a t-shirt crowdfunding campaign because you believe in the cause that you’re raising money for. This rings true no matter your mission—whether your goal is starting a small business, raising money to cover expenses for adopting a child, or funding your nonprofit’s work.
One of the main driving forces behind t-shirt crowdfunding over other forms of fundraising is that after the campaign is over, you’ll have an expanded community of supporters that have proven their investment—both financially and emotionally—in your success.
That’s a powerful group of people! Those supporters are going to be the ones who celebrate your success with you when you reach your goals or help you find another way when things don’t go according to plan.
While that’s the most inherent way you’ll build a community around your cause, that’s not the only consideration. Here are some other factors that contribute to community building:
- Crowdfunding of any type requires person-to-person connections, even just through social media. That way, when people purchase your t-shirt, they’ll feel invested in both the supporters who shared the opportunity and the groups who benefited from the funds—not just your cause!
- When people wear your t-shirt, it creates a sense of community with others who also wear the t-shirt or otherwise support the cause. Your t-shirts create a rallying point for anyone who supports your mission.
- Your t-shirts give people an opportunity to raise awareness for your mission any time they wear them: the shirts can turn them into advocates for your cause! This, in turn, creates a deeper connection to your cause.
This is especially true when you take a peer-to-peer approach to your campaign, where you have supporters share your message and ask for donations. Your supporters will simultaneously put a friendly face to your campaign and deepen their connection to the mission by sharing what it means to them, ultimately growing your network and reinforcing their connection.
2. T-shirt crowdfunding doubles as a marketing tactic.
Marketing can be a challenge for anyone—that’s why companies hire external firms to handle it for them! But most individuals and small organizations likely can’t afford their own marketers, which means it takes a little more effort to gain an audience.
T-shirt crowdfunding is a great fundraising strategy for someone who is ready to use easily available marketing tactics to spread their campaign and cause!
First, crowdfunding is the perfect opportunity to create a social media campaign because donors give online, making it easy to reach wider audiences. Share your campaign page with your friends and send the link through email. Then, watch as your page gains attention and traction!
To really take advantage of this marketing tactic, you have to make your campaign page as attractive and compelling as possible. This means you should include:
- A brief paragraph explaining who you are and what your mission is
- A high-quality picture or video of you or something related to your cause (campaigns with videos raise an astounding 150% more than those that don’t!)
- Ways to contact you to learn more about your cause
And don’t forget about other methods of communicating online. Not everyone uses social media regularly, so expand your target audience by sending out your order form through email. You can write this email just like you would any other fundraising letter, but just be sure to embed your donation form or include a link!
Additionally, keep in mind that you can continue to create a marketing impact even after your campaign wraps up. Once people start to receive their t-shirts, those shirts become long-term marketing collateral and double as a billboard for your cause!
Well-made t-shirts branded to your cause will introduce others to your mission whenever your supporters wear them out in public. Those that are clearly connected to your cause will naturally start conversations, enabling your supporter to advocate for your mission. Even those who might be timid about walking up to strangers to ask about the shirt will be able to quickly Google the cause.
3. T-shirt crowdfunding offers long-term benefits for your cause.
As we just mentioned, one of the great things about t-shirt crowdfunding is that the benefits of the campaign don’t end as soon as the campaign is over.
The two most important long-term benefits for your mission are that the community you built doesn’t go away and that even after the campaign is over your t-shirts continue to raise awareness.
First, you can’t buy a t-shirt anonymously. Everyone who buys your t-shirt shares their contact information through the purchasing and delivery process, allowing you to contact them later about getting further involved in your cause.
These people have already proven that they support both you and your mission! Don’t let these relationships wither on the vine. Follow up with them as soon as they order a t-shirt to say thank you, and then keep them updated on your progress, especially if your campaign funded a specific project. Start a conversation with them, and you never know where things might go!
Secondly, your t-shirts continue to raise awareness even after the campaign is completed. Think of your t-shirts as billboards. Your supporters are going to continue to wear your shirts (especially if you put thought into the design), so make sure they’re designed in a way that will continue to spread the word about your cause.
For example, your t-shirts should:
- Feature your cause’s name, slogan, or logo in a prominent place in an easily-readable font
- Include an eye-catching graphic that’s related to your cause (not just your logo!)
- Be printed so that the words or image stands out on the color of the shirt’s material
- Be attractive and comfortable enough that your supporters will continue to wear them as a regular part of their wardrobe
Designing your t-shirts to represent your cause and be a natural addition to people’s wardrobes will empower you to continue reaping the benefits of your campaign for the next several months (or years!). Playing the long game with your t-shirt crowdfunding marketing strategy is a surefire way to create an enduring community of support for your mission.
4. T-shirt crowdfunding campaigns are easily accessible.
A huge drawback of some fundraising strategies—like fundraising events such as charity 5Ks or community food drives—is that they’re available only to people who are located in the areas where the events are held. That limits your potential audience to a very small group of people.
T-shirt crowdfunding breaks down those barriers. In fact, they aren’t bound by geography at all, thanks to the internet. When you can promote your campaign to all of your friends online, you don’t have to worry about time differences or state lines.
Your grandma who lives two states away? Your friends from summer camp across the country? Your mom’s best friend, currently stationed far away? All of these people are now able to support you, even if they’re not nearby!
Plus, most crowdfunding sites make these types of campaigns available on mobile devices. That way, people can contribute anytime and anywhere without having to wait until they can log onto their computers. Not to mention, many people store their payment information and addresses on their smartphones, making it easy to autofill their information and quickly make it through the donation process.
Furthermore, it’s not only simple to buy and deliver t-shirts on a wide scale—leveraging several different social media platforms makes it easy to mass market your crowdfunding campaign, too.
Sharing your campaign isn’t only possible through Facebook, either—you can share the good news via Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and email! This wide distribution capacity is great for your campaign. Feathr’s nonprofit marketing guide notes that leveraging multiple touchpoints will increase brand recognition and make people more likely to contribute. Plus, every platform has a different audience too, so you can reach more people.
On top of that, consider a few of other, common fundraising obstacles that you can overcome with t-shirt crowdfunding:
- Prohibitive economic circumstance. Some people might not have the extra money for a t-shirt right now, and that’s okay! They can still help your cause by sharing your t-shirt campaign on social media and vouching for you, which is just as valuable.
- “Something for nothing” fears. Some people are averse to donating money if they don’t know that something definitively good will come from it—but t-shirt crowdfunding doesn’t have that problem! No matter what happens at the end of the campaign, the donor still gets a cool t-shirt they can relax in.
- Start-up costs. Traditional fundraising events require capital upfront, like venue and catering costs. But when you partner with a t-shirt company that’s free to start a campaign, you can make sure that you never go in the red while trying to raise money.
Not only does t-shirt crowdfunding create a new level of accessibility for supporters—it’s a great way for people raising money to create a fundraising campaign without having to front any cash. This is invaluable when you’re tight on money or just getting started with your cause.
5. T-shirt crowdfunding builds excitement for the end goal.
In the same way that peer-to-peer fundraising helps nonprofits build hype for fundraising events by giving supporters ownership of their engagement, crowdfunding gives your community a reason to feel involved and included in your mission.
T-shirt crowdfunding is all about the end goal. And when you’ve spent a lot of time and effort marketing your campaign, you want people to care about your mission.
By showing vulnerability when sharing your cause’s story during your campaign, you put yourself on the line emotionally. People will feel a deep connection to you and your cause, and by investing in your t-shirts, they also become invested in your success.
A community-funded project becomes far more important to the community than one funded by anonymous investors. So your mission trip (or your push to pay for school fees, or fund a nonprofit program) becomes the community mission trip—manifested by you.
No matter the goal of your t-shirt fundraising campaign, investing money into your cause creates an emotional connection between you and your supporters.
Each and every one of your supporters is rooting for you! Watching your fundraising campaign creep closer and closer to your goal creates anticipation for success—making your campaign victory even sweeter.
Next Steps: Getting started with t-shirt crowdfunding
At this point, you might be convinced that a t-shirt crowdfunding campaign is the way to go for your cause. So, how do you get started and create a t-shirt that drives your mission forward?
Before anything else, you have to choose a crowdfunding platform that allows you to create and sell t-shirts.
Bonfire’s guide to the best fundraising sites recommends three ways to compare sites and select the best one for your cause:
- Start-up costs: Your platform shouldn’t charge any platform or inventory costs. That way, every dollar that you earn is yours to keep and you’re not paying for anything you don’t end up selling.
- Donor data security: Going digital naturally poses security risks, especially when handling payment information and personal addresses. Check into the security that different platforms offer.
- Customer support: In a perfect world, you wouldn’t run into any technical issues, but just in case you do, make sure your provider has a reliable customer support team to overcome hiccups and keep your campaign on track.
From the t-shirt perspective, you should be able to leverage free graphics and fonts while still having complete creative control over your design. If you’re not confident in your design abilities, make sure that help from professional designers will be there if you need it.
Arguably the most important factor is the quality of your t-shirts. Whoever you order your shirts from should print your design on high-quality, comfortable fabric that won’t unravel after the first wash.
After choosing a t-shirt crowdfunding platform that meets these criteria, you can create a design that exemplifies your cause with the tips we covered earlier! And once you’ve perfected your design, you can push your campaign page live and promote the opportunity to your network.
In no time, you’ll start building your community and reaping all the other great benefits that we explored!
Final Thoughts: Why is t-shirt crowdfunding so effective?
Now you know what the primary benefits of t-shirt crowdfunding are and how to get started. But what really drives those benefits? Why are they as effective as they are? The answer lies in human nature.
Humans are socially motivated creatures. So when we see someone that we know and love ask for help, we are moved to help them however we can. And in this era, that might mean donating to a crowdfunding campaign or sharing a post on Twitter.
Social fundraising, like crowdfunding, appeals to us on a fundamental level. We want to watch our friends and family succeed, and if we can do that by buying a t-shirt, we will!
T-shirt crowdfunding is a seriously powerful fundraising idea. And now that you know the benefits and how to get started, you can begin to use it to support your mission!