In the age of the internet, selfies and the hashtag, it’s never been easier to pick up massive support online – forget expensive advertising campaigns. What an excellent set of ingredients for a charity fundraiser. Yet judging by the stats, fundraisers haven’t yet found the right mixture to get results for their charity.
Perhaps we’re using an old thinking in a new world. The idea of just a donation might not be enough for an online demographic. Millennials are brand-literate, internet-centric people who expect even charities to excite and amaze them with their content in return for their traffic and support online. They want more.
We’ve been working with some of the UK’s biggest charities to solve this problem: What can we do online to reward support without eroding the revenue, or actually boosting it? Can we at the same time find a way to naturally share and spread a cause online? By mixing fashion and charity, Teemill lets fundraisers do just that – the catalyst is the humble t-shirt. And with new technology, we have been able to help charities do it for free.
Campaign t-shirt as a selfie catalyst
Katharine Hamnett was perhaps the first person to leverage the power of a t-shirt to align national support: She wore her bold “58% Don’t Want Pershing” t-shirt to a meeting with Margaret Thatcher and the photos that spread across the country did more than any editorial counterpoint ever could.
Pictures of people actually wearing a cause beat words, every time.
With a fashion-conscious, ecommerce economy there’s never been a better time for charities to leverage this idea than today, by making t-shirts with their cause or campaign print available. The outcome is not just profit, it’s the thousands of photos and selfies shared online in support and the subsequent reach, which can become self-sustaining.
Selling t-shirts online can be messy and very expensive. We must invest loads, store all the stock, pay for expensive and often unsatisfactory coding – that’s before we even try and compete with what’s “cool” out there at any one time. Most attempts fail.
At Rapanui, we solved this problem during our mission to become the UK’s top sustainable fashion brand. As well as having a young team of designers, we have invested a lot in the technology behind sustainable fashion – by making all of our products from organic materials in an ethically accredited, wind powered factory, and developing traceability tools, allowing consumers to see where their clothing comes from, and how it’s made. All of that is great, except we still ended up with a load of stock on the shelves at the end of the season – which isn’t sustainable.
We wanted to solve a waste issue, both financial and fabric – and developed the technology to print our t-shirts on demand, the same hour the order is placed, and ship them the same day. It worked, and we built a supply chain around it.
It’s this technology that powers the t-shirt fundraising campaigns of some of the UK’s top charities – the software that makes it all happen is called Teemill. It includes a professional ecommerce package to plugin to their website and the outcome is a fully automated supply chain.
All profit, no cost
The charity comes up with a design, uploads to their Teemill and when one sells, we print it and ship it with their branding – we’re an invisible partner. It costs the charity nothing, and around £5 per sale is all net profit, along with the steady stream of fan photos supporting the cause on social media, ready to be engaged for future campaigns.
Established charities have embraced this technology to give their supporters a memento and galvanise long-term support. Chris Hall – Marine Conservation Society marketing team:
“Setting up our Teemill store has enabled us to provide a flexible, cost effective ethical product for our customers; we’ve increased our reach, gathered new supporters and raised vital funds for our charity”.
Others have built new charitable campaigns around the technology itself. Help Refugees was set up in 2015 to allocate support for the Syrian and Calais refugee crisis, they collaborated with fashion designer Katharine Hamnett and adapted her infamous ‘Choose Life’ design to ‘Choose Love’, gathered celebrity support, took some photos and told the press about the collaboration. The charity has witnessed explosive growth, with a national profile and donations of goods, services and financial donations. The charity launched t-shirts last year and are still selling hundreds per week.
This kind of technology is super accessible for all charities, large and small – as represented in our clients from RSPCA, Crisis and WWF to conservation charities like Buglife and Butterfly Conservation, who all use our systems to raise funds and reach.
Solving a problem that every charity has
It’s never sounded easier to reach an audience online – we need some great content that costs nothing and makes us money. Print-on-Demand technology like Teemill might just be the answer to that modern day charity fundraising conundrum.