T-Shirt Fundraising for Non-Profits: A Quick Start Guide

Fundraising is a critical part of any nonprofit’s strategy. Not because it is the most important thing that nonprofits do, but because it enables them to carry out their mission-driven work.

When you’re designing your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy, you’ll first need to come up with financial goals that relate directly to the philanthropic objectives for the year. Then, you’ll need to come up with fundraising ideas and campaigns that will help you reach those fundraising goals.

One fundraiser that has proven successful for all types of causes is selling t-shirts.

Branded merchandise is often used by nonprofits to maximize other fundraising efforts and raise money in an independent campaign. It’s important to recognize how you can leverage these campaigns to the best of your abilities.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help nonprofit professionals maximize their next t-shirt fundraising campaign and get as much out of it as possible. Let’s take a look at some of the things you should consider when planning your next campaign.

1. Choose How You’ll Sell & Distribute Your T-Shirts

When you sell merchandise as a part of your fundraiser, you’ll need to decide how you want to sell and distribute your shirts to supporters. You have two options to choose from:

  • Online – When your supporters order your t-shirts directly online as part of an independent fundraiser, they’ll likely expect to receive the t-shirt through delivery from your team.
  • In-person – Some organizations like to include t-shirts in their event registration packages. You might decide to deliver the t-shirts out before an event, or sell them on-site.

2. Design Your T-Shirt with More Than Just Your Logo

When you’re designing your t-shirts for the fundraiser, you’ll see a lot of advice telling you to add your logo to the shirt. That is good advice. But you should take it a step further and add more than just your logo to the shirt.

T-shirts can inspire change and intrigue donors, encouraging them to get involved with your organization’s activities. They provide a platform for creativity and an opportunity to represent your mission. Use the space on your t-shirts to showcase your nonprofit in new and innovative ways.

You can use the latest t-shirt design trends to give your merchandise an edge and inspire donors. For example, some of these trends include:

  • Multicolored words – You don’t need a large portrait or anything fancy to create an intriguing T-shirt design. All you need is a catchy phrase and color pallet to create an intriguing design. Try to keep the colors within your organization’s brand.
  • Handwritten typography – Once again, you can make your text the main focus of your t-shirt design. To add visual interest and create an artistic effect, make the font look like handwriting.

Your brand is more than just your company’s logo. It’s the words you use, your colors, and the visual portrayal of your mission. Knowing some of the trends and creative potential for t-shirts can help you come up with some more visually appealing and unique ideas for t-shirt designs that will engage and draw your audience.

3. Consider How the Fundraiser Fits into Your Strategy

As you plan your t-shirt fundraiser, be sure to think about how this particular fundraiser fits into your larger strategy.

As you started the year, you put together a budget and designed a fundraising strategy to help guide you towards your goals. What purpose does your t-shirt fundraiser play in this strategy? Perhaps it will serve one of these roles:

  • Support a campaign for a new program
  • Diversify your event revenue stream
  • Contribute to your nonprofit’s annual fund

While it may seem like a small detail, understanding how your fundraiser fits into your strategy is important because it helps you to guide your communications with your supporters. Your supporters are driven by the impact they can have on your organization’s mission, so explaining how your t-shirt will support that mission is more likely to capture their attention compared to just stating that it will help your nonprofit as a whole.

4. Say Thank You After The Fundraiser Ends

Once your t-shirt fundraiser ends, don’t forget to thank the people who purchased a t-shirt. This will help you keep your current supporters interested in supporting your nonprofit again in the future.

The first step to retention is appreciation. Make sure your supporters know what their support means to your organization and for your mission.

After you send a quick thank-you, it is often best to follow up with appreciation strategies like:

  • Calling supporters to say thank you and inform them of other upcoming engagement opportunities
  • Provide a thank-you note or a small gift in the package with the t-shirt you sell
  • Invite supporters to post a picture in their new t-shirt on social media platforms, then like and comment on the post from your organization’s account

Growing up, you learned to say “please” and “thank you” And now that you’re an adult, you know that saying “thank you” is polite while also being a key strategy to help nonprofits retain their supporters and engage them for the long-run.


T-shirt fundraising is a classic fundraising idea that’s incredibly helpful as an independent campaign or as an add-on for other fundraising strategies. When you carefully plan and execute your t-shirt fundraising strategy, your campaign will maximize revenue and spread the word about your cause.

Happy fundraising!😊

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