Apparel fundraising can be a great way to raise money while also raising the public profile of your nonprofit organization. When supporters purchase apparel that is part of your fundraising program, your organization will earn a sales commission. When they wear the items, this will help boost name recognition and awareness for your organization and possibly encourage new people to want to learn more about its work and possibly become supporters themselves.
What Is Apparel Fundraising?
Apparel fundraising involves selling clothing items that bear your organization's name, logo and/or message as a way of raising money. In order to experience financial success from this type of fundraiser, you need to have supporters who are willing to purchase apparel that will associate them with your organization. You will also need a custom embroidery and/or screen printing vendor that will produce wearable items at a price low enough for you to earn commission on each item sold.
Popular apparel fundraising items include:
- Button-down shirts
- Polo shirts
- Other items
Special Event Apparel Fundraisers
There are several different ways to approach holding an apparel fundraiser. If your organization is planning a large special event, you may want to design and market apparel items specifically for that event. These types of apparel items usually include the organization's logo or name, the name and date of the event and artwork representative of the event. These types of items are popular fundraising items for music festivals and cook-off fundraisers as well as run/walk events, golf tournaments and conferences.
With this type of apparel fundraising, clothing items are typically offered for sale in the weeks leading up to the event as well as during the activity itself. This means that the clothing items will need to be purchased ahead of time. Careful planning is necessary so that you don't run out of apparel items too soon and that you don't end up with too much inventory left unsold when the event is over.
You need to have a good idea of how many people are likely to attend the event and what percentage can be expected to purchase apparel items. Look at attendance numbers from previous years, if your event is new, review projections based on market research and other similar events.
Ongoing Apparel Fundraising Efforts
Rather than producing apparel to be sold in support of a specific event, you may want to engage in apparel fundraising on an ongoing basis, providing a way for sponsors to order items that bear your organization's name or logo at any time. Items marketed via this type of apparel fundraiser are not marked with dates or event titles, so there's not a sense of urgency associated with selling them during a specific time frame.
If you hold an ongoing apparel fundraiser, you will need to decide if you will purchase a large or small inventory of clothing items to carry in-stock. If you purchase a large quantity, you will be able to get the lowest possible per-unit price. However, the up-front investment will be quite significant and it may take you a while to recoup the funds. If you purchase a smaller quantity, the per-unit cost will be higher but the initial investment will likely be lower.
You may want to consider taking pre-orders from regular supporters before placing the initial order to get a sense of what demand is going to be like. If you know that you have buyers for a certain number of items, this can you make an informed decision about how many items to purchase, being sure to buy a quantity of products to sell to those who want to wait until they see the finished product in order to purchase. Consider offering items for sale on the organization's website as well as at meetings, events and in the administrative office.
Tips for Selecting Apparel for Fundraisers
While price is an important consideration when selecting a vendor to provide wearable merchandise for your apparel fundraising efforts, it is not the only important consideration. Quality is also an important key to success with this type of fundraiser. Don't automatically go with the cheapest vendor. Instead, look at samples of the items first, choosing only those that are made with high quality materials and workmanship.
Consider contacting people within your professional network who have been involved with clothing fundraisers and ask for referrals of apparel vendors they have worked with in the past. This is a great way to find options for suppliers that provide quality work and merchandise at prices that are likely to be appropriate for your budget.