Looking for ways to fund your time serving and making a difference abroad? We love unique fundraising ideas, like this one.
We've seen thousands of volunteers try fundraising over the years to help fund their trip to volunteer abroad. We've even tried it ourselves a number or times!
Did you know we've compiled 5 million ideas to help you?
Don't miss our guide to fundraising!
What Makes A Good Fundraiser?
One thing we know for sure; there are a ton of different ways to fundraise. Your best bet? Choose a way that sounds fun to you! It takes work to do fundraising, so actually enjoying what you're doing makes it a bit more doable. The more you put into it, often the more successful you are.
One other tip: choose a fundraiser that gives back to your donors as well (we've seen that people are more likely to donate when they get something out of it). You might have a few more people who want to chip in for your fundraiser if it's a spaghetti dinner and they get a meal in exchange for their donation — rather than simply asking for a Venmo donation, you know?
If you're looking for a fun idea that also gives back to your vendors, try selling t-shirts to help fund your semester volunteering abroad!
Companies To Check Out
If you don't have your own print shop, no need to fear. There are many ways you can order shirts to sell. We've compiled a few suggestions that are good options to consider, as well as a few guidelines to help your fundraiser be successful (no matter which company you go through).
Bonfire is a top pick for a few reasons. First, they have design options you can choose from, which is helpful if you're not much of a designer. Plus, they handle shipping and all the inventory. Just create an account, and start! You'll choose colors, the type of product (Bonfire has everything from t-shirts to crewneck sweatshirts), graphics you can upload, or you can even upload your own design. If you're having a hard time coming up with ideas for what you want your shirt to look like, check out their template page for some inspiration and tips.
Broken Arrow is an option focused on making things easy. When you sign up, you'll get in touch with a design specialist who will create a fundraising website for you, then help you with design and pricing. Then, you'll just need to share the link to your site with all of your friends and family. Here's more info about their fundraising platform (including the minimum deposit fee and fulfillment fee, as well as some tips for success).
Printful is another way to design a t-shirt and have the company handle the inventory, however, you will need to create a website platform to link your Printful products to. You'll need to create an account, pick your item (they have t-shirts and several other products), make your design, and connect it to a website. If you already have a Shopify, Wix, Etsy, (or another option supported by Printful), this is a great option for you — Printful handles the fulfillment, packing, and shipping.
All About T-Shirt Fundraising (+ Guidelines To Follow)
Buy Or Sell?
Decide if you want to buy a bunch of shirts to sell offline on your own, or if you want to have a third party (like the companies above) sell them for you.
If you buy your inventory, we like that you can avoid some of the fees (that we're going to mention in a second). For example, most sites have a transaction fee when someone purchases your shirt online using a debit or credit card and that is taken out of your donation profits. But, with this option, you run the risk of buying a bunch of shirts that you aren't able to sell! If you buy shirts in bulk, you better be feeling PRETTY confident you can sell them all.
If you sell online, we love that you don't have to guesstimate and order a certain quantity in advance. Just make sure you're checking any applicable fees with whoever you go with (if someone takes a percentage of each item sold, or charges a storage fee for your inventory).
So ... it's up to you (but we're leaning towards thinking selling looks like a pretty good idea for you.)
Then, Set Yourself Up For Success
Once you're done, make sure you let everyone know. Do an Instagram post. Tell your mom to like your Facebook post and share it with all her friends. Run around fliers to let even more people know. You know the drill.
Maybe even purchase your shirt yourself (you know you want one after creating that awesome design!), and use that for marketing. Take a cute picture of yourself wearing it and use that for your post to make it a bit more personal.
Don't forget to explain why you're fundraising! Share about your cause. For our ILP volunteers, share about how you'll be helping children learn English so that they can have a brighter future with more opportunities. Or share about how you'll be spending your time in an orphanage for the semester, working with kids each day one-on-one. You might even share the goal amount that you're trying to fundraise to let people know how to help you out (maybe they'll be inclined to buy more, or add an extra donation if they understand the amount you're working towards).
Watch Out For Fees
As with just about every online source for fundraising, just know that you aren't getting 100% of the donations that are made to you. It really depends on the company you choose, but for example with Bonfire, you're not charged to use their services ... but there are of course additional fees such as credit card transaction fees, printing, etc. You can check out Bonfire's fees here.
If you choose to sell online with Bonfire, after you design your shirt, you will be taken to a page where you can get an idea of how much you want to sell your shirt for and how much of that would be taken out for printing fees. It's a great way to set a goal of how many shirts you're hoping to sell and how much that would add up to in donations. For example, if I thought I could sell 25 shirts, and set the price of my shirt to be $24/each ... after the printing/base cost is taken out, I would end up getting about $13 a shirt (or a little over $300 for my fundraising). Not bad!
This article has a clearcut breakdown of the fees associated with using Printful — you'll notice the money made per sale. On the Printful site, there are multiple prompts to utilize their "fee calculator" to help you anticipate the costs associated with processing and fulfillment as well as any applicable storage fees.
You'll also want to note any fulfillment fees, design fees, deposit fees, or other costs just to make sure you understand how things break down financially.
Especially look into separate fundraising options. For example, Bonfire has an option where friends and families can purchase a shirt and add on an extra donation, if they would like to. If you use this option, Bonfire takes 8% for processing fees (which is rather steep). Rather than this, let donors know they can make donations directly to ILP so that you receive 100% of the donation and it will also be tax deductible.
Is it worth it?
Yeah! I mean, despite the fees, any money going towards funding your service trip is win-win, right? Just know that there is a minimum you need to sell, though. A few of the companies listed above have a 5-6 shirt minimum.
One volunteer who tried t-shirt fundraising said that when she shared a post on her Instagram about her fundraiser, she also had friends and family message her to say that they didn't necessarily want to buy a shirt, but that they still wanted to donate directly to her. Just having the platform is a great way to just get the word out that you're trying to fund a good cause like this without having to directly ask for donations.
Get tips to help make your semester abroad affordable!
We have a free guide for volunteers who are headed abroad packed full of ways to help you fundraise your adventure. We talked to volunteers who did it before you and they dished about the things that actually worked.
Even if you're not sure which country you're volunteering in yet, these tips will be really helpful for you! Download the free guide by clicking the button below: