Success Stories

Charity Fundraising Online Campaign

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.

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Case Study: Startup brand Nocturnal Creature

Dave Moore found himself in the thick of London’s house and techno scene, and was inspired to start a brand. Whilst his idea was great, following through and making a success of it was tough. Then he found Teemill.

Nocturnal Creature is one of the leading underground labels in London’s techno scene. If you’re in a club on a night out, chances are the DJ, if not half the people at the bar and on the dance floor are wearing #NCLondon. Every one of those t-shirts was designed by Dave on his laptop, posted on Facebook on his phone on a night out, pictures shared the day after on Instagram and blogs written on the plane coming back from a mission to Ibiza. It’s his brand, they’re his customers, but you won’t see him working on all the logistics and admin.

We fulfill orders on demand, with your branding.

Dave is a 21st century entrepreneur and has plugged into our supply chain technology to increase profitability, save heaps of time and let him focus on making his brand epic – not wasting time running to the post office or hanging on to old stock. Whilst Dave runs a lightweight modern brand from his laptop, the competition are still trying to work out what to do with the tees they have behind the sofa from last season.

Teemill has allowed me to focus on building the brand – and it’s a massive success. Knowing that my orders will get shipped and my customers sorted is massive for me. I’m making money even when I’m asleep.

Dave doesn’t worry about customer service because Teemill sorts it for him. Equally, there’s no worries to find cash and print some t-shirts up, painstakingly photograph them and upload them to his website: Teemill does this all for free.

At the Teemill factory, his stuff is printed to his specification, one at a time, on demand and shipped to his customer in his packaging. He’s never charged for a t-shirt unless he’s bought one, and his share of the profit, he keeps. There’s no paperwork: All the billing and payments happen in the cloud, with cash going direct to his account.

People don’t know #NC is powered by Teemill. Or care.

One of the reasons why people often try and do it all themselves with clothing supply chains is pride – Afraid that their brand might not seem quite as good if it doesn’t have a branded bag or fancy neck label. We understand that and that’s why brands can customise their own paperwork, packaging and even design custom flyers and inserts to give the customer a rounded brand experience – as if it came direct from you. Every product comes with a plain size label – no branding. Everything including the ecommerce store is white-label and customisable.

Flexibility

In conversations with Dave, one of the most common subjects is about how many lessons have been learned since deciding to pursue NC. From having too many ideas and getting distracted, to learning about what’s working and what’s not, there’s a reminder at every mistake how Teemill was a great choice.

That t-shirt design that I tried, that didn’t work: With Teemill, I just deleted it and tried another one. It makes me feel sick thinking about what would’ve happened if I’d done it the hard way and invested money in that stock.

One of our real motivations is to prevent amazing dreams ending up as dead stock in an attic. This flexibility, coupled with our print on demand factory, means that Dave can still keep his day job working in finance in London. There’s so many hours saved with Teemill that the business is profitable, running and growing – without needing to invest any more time in it.

Profitability

The original plan was to fund the venture from cash reserves and maybe a small loan, and get a few thousand pounds of stock and a professional website. Instead, Dave got all that for zero, and kept the money for marketing. He was in the black from day one, and through clever use of photography, managed to make his brand look amazing for the cost of a couple of samples.

There’s no financial pressure at Nocturnal Creature. The business is in profit, and very profitable already – in it’s second year – with a valuable database of customers.

Scheduling

One of Dave’s top tips is scheduling. He writes his content on the train to work all in one go, and schedules the posts to drop at the best times for his customers.

As there’s no real limits to our ability in fulfilling orders, with 93% of NC items shipped the same day, the business is set up to scale up as large as Dave can grow it.

We’re super proud to have been able to help this amazing brand get established – it was exactly what Teemill was built for.

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Case Study: Junior Doctors Campaign

The campaign to support Junior Doctors in their fight against imposed contract changes has the benefit of the passionate, well-organised and genuine team at @wearyournhs, plus a little magic from Teemill to make t-shirts happen and the campaign with vital funds.

This case study examines the success story of a 21st century campaign, using the latest print on demand fundraising technology, social media and user generated content to finance, sustain and win an issue. This campaign in support of Junior Doctors used Teemill to build a free campaign t-shirt shop in 24 hours, which took and shipped 2000 orders a day at the height of the 6 month campaign.

Embracing new Technology

The campaign team understood that in order to sustain their activities, they would need some finance. Relying on donations was considered unattractive, and sure to be outgunned by the deep pockets of adversaries.

The forward-thinking team also wanted to have some community, continuity and visual identity to allow supporters to show clearly how their values aligned. They knew their strengths were in their authenticity, their grasp of the main issues and their ability to communicate – They were unafraid to embrace new technology for the rest of it.

Teemill came recommended from young charity fundraising contacts as a way to get the whole supply chain from website, ecommerce system, t-shirt printing and shipping in a day – without any cost.

The campaign team immediately recognised the advantage of raising funds through Teemill and sorting their entire t-shirt supply issue out, without having to do any work. It took 24 hours from decision point to launch, and the first sale.

The team identified that a print on a white t-shirt would result in double the royalty payments for their campaign, and took a design by Dame Vivienne Westwood and applied it to our unisex tee in white. The t-shirt is made from organic cotton in a wind-powered, ethically accredited factory. The team could immediately see the benefit of Rapanui’s award-winning supply chain traceability and how it protected them from an attempt to undermine the campaign.

Communication, celebrities and pictures.

The campaign team has a really genuine, authentic message on an issue we can all relate to. But that didn’t guarantee them success: The dedication to communicating with supporters every day, and scheduling meant that lots of posts were seen on a hashtag at the right time.

Active PR included requests for celebrities to add their voice – this built momentum and made the message travel. The campaign team also recognise that a picture speaks a thousand words and make sure they post lots of great photography

Including followers

One of the great things about the Junior Doctors campaign is its longevity, and continuity – the clever use of fan-generated photos on a hashtag. The campaign has built-in momentum. Someone who really cares about supporting Junior Doctors will get a t-shirt, then post a selfie in support – both generating great content for the campaign but also making other like-minded people aware of its existence.

 

Not afraid to repeat an important point.

The campaign team recognised that on social media, the message can get lost quickly in the noise. Rather than be held back by fear of bombarding supporters, the team fearlessly post a lot of stuff each day and regularly repost or repeat important points, automating the message across multiple social media profiles and scheduling for key times.

Mix of media

The campaign uses social media to spread the campaign by empowering the fans to buy a t-shirt on Teemill and share a picture showing their support for the cause. In this way, Teemill allows that powerful, visual link between each photo to happen – by producing and shipping the t-shirts for the campaign.

The team also use PR, press releases and other 21st century sites like Buzzfeed to get their message across and find new supporters.

How did Teemill handle it?

Teemill was designed to enable charities, good causes, startups or anyone with good intentions the access and tools to connect to our on-demand supply chain. As well as shipping goods globally under the Rapanui brand, our factory technology is used by some of Europe’s biggest organisations to fulfill their orders: From the first trickle of one or two items for @wearyournhs, to the surge of thousands during our busiest period in December the supply chain shipped 93% of orders next day, and continues to generate overwhelmingly positive reviews from customers.

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