Fundraising is hard. Ask any nonprofit organization. Money is in limited supply. Pocketbooks are tight. Americans donate 1% of annual income to charities and there’s limited money to go around.

How does your team or nonprofit organization stand out?


T-shirts are valuable. They are wearable by everyone, have market niche appeal (see: AIDS Day t-shirts), and a good reward for hard work (see: Race for the Cure).

Why do t-shirts work as a fundraising tool? Here are three ways.

One: They Are Rewards for Crowdfunding

What is crowdfunding? Crowdfunding happens when a large group of people donate to a cause. One way is when a person has an illness, needs medical treatment, doesn’t have the money, and asks people through a crowdfunding site for money.

How does that apply to nonprofits? Well, it comes down to your event participants.

Major events, like The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Walk ask participants to raise money. It’s not a requirement, though it is helpful. Participants who raise $150 in the Out of the Darkness Walk get a t-shirt.

Everyone wins. The AFSP gets more money. The participant gets a t-shirt. It also influences the next section, which is…

Two: Walking Advertisements

Your t-shirt may cost money. You’re selling them for $15, with the cost to manufacture $7. That means you’ll take home $8 in profit. That’s not much.

But your t-shirt becomes something else: A walking advertisement for people to see. Think differently? People wear t-shirts made from charities at gyms, malls, parks, concerts, and other areas. Everyone who sees that t-shirt will think: I need to check out this organization.

This goes for the school apparel fundraiser, school clothing fundraiser, class fundraiser, school t shirt fundraiser, and more.

The advantage of producing a custom t-shirt means that people wearing them wear a unique signature of that organization. A custom t-shirt sends a message: Check out this organization.

Three: Building a Community

Yes, communities are not built overnight.

But t-shirts represent a commonality. Here’s why.

T-shirts represent a bond between the organization and a customer. T-shirts say, “I like this organization.” The organization is worth enough to wear its t-shirt.

T-shirts, when given out at major events, make people remember the event. Their participation. A walk or run. Volunteering. Seeing all the other participants faces.

This creates a bond. Participants may recognize each other later. They may see a shirt and say, “I remember that event.” And they’ll like that other person more because of it.

Designing a custom t-shirt isn’t hard. There are many websites where someone can log on and design one. Coming up with the right slogan and the right color pattern is important. Make it stand out. You’ll want your participants wearing it, when working out or otherwise.