How to run a T-shirt fundraising campaign

From our campaigns with Choose Love – and A-list partners including Sebastian Croft, Emma Corrin, Freddy Carter and Sam Corlett – to our 2018 fundraiser, 50/50, in partnership with Amnesty International, we’ve run some amazing fundraising campaigns with charities making a difference on a global scale. But, we are also firm believers in the power of community, and the impact grassroots fundraisers and independent creators can make. So, with the help of Emma Dragovic, one of the designers behind our Freedom for Iran tee, and Chloe Thomas, the brains behind Abort Mission, we put together a couple of useful points for anyone looking to run their own grassroots fundraisers. No famous pals required. 

Find a cause you truly believe in

Both Emma and Chloe emphasise the importance of working for a cause you truly care about. “[Besides] having fun with our campaigns, we are all individually incredibly passionate about this cause,” says Chloe Thomas of Abort Mission, a newly established, small but mighty group raising funds for abortion rights charities in the UK and Europe. “This passion breeds a real drive in us all to reach a wide audience and to explain the importance of what we are all working towards.” Designer Emma Dragovic agrees. “If you’re passionate about the cause, and you know the people / places it’s impacting, you will be more engaged in wanting it to succeed in an honest and organic way.”

Do your research

Beyond the usual parameters of running a t-shirt campaign, running a fundraiser requires a level of responsibility and care – towards your customers, as well as the community or cause you’re rallying behind. “Find out about how the money you raise will be put to use, and make sure 100% of the proceeds reach those in need,” says Emma. 

Nail your design

While good design is our bread and butter, having eye-catching, witty artwork that clearly translates the message of your campaign is especially important when you’re fundraising. Not only does it give people a wearable piece of your cause, it’s a good way to capture the attention of those who might not be familiar with it. “If people aren’t aware of the charity or cause you are shouting about, then an eye-catching design is a good way of grabbing their attention and generating more awareness,” says Emma. Plus, when raising as much profit as possible is the goal, having diverse garment options helps. “Having a design that looks great in all colour ways and different garments enabled us to mix up our options for each campaign,” adds Chloe. “This meant that we could encourage people to buy more than one t-shirt or tote bag as they are all slightly different.” 

Use socials to your advantage

“We all utilised our social media following in order to reach as many people as possible, posting the link to our campaign daily with fun reminders and plays on words,” says Chloe. “For our totes our favourite phrase was “secure the bag!”” It is key to post your campaign daily on Instagram stories; using reels and grid posts, as well as reaching a wider and more professional network on LinkedIn and other such sites,” says Chloe. Abort Mission’s signature tongue-in-cheek IG posts helped build the campaign’s fan base – an important tactic for any organisation, but especially when you’re a grassroots group just starting out. Plus, keeping the posts fun and entertaining not only helped with engagement, it meant that Abort Mission were able to sustain daily promotion without dropping momentum and causing fatigue among their followers. “We made it our goal to be posting funny and really engaging pictures and reels on social media, specifically Instagram, editing our t-shirts and tote bags onto photos of celebrities and characters from TV and movies. We found this really helped our engagement – and we also had loads of fun doing it!” 

Explore our Creator Toolkit for tips on launching your campaignselling on socials, making merch for festival season and more.