In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need events to raise money for causes – people would just donate! Luckily there are a million different ways to raise money and awareness for your cause, charity, or movement. Here are 5 ways to support your cause in the form of events, swag, and some important organization tips.
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1: Don’t create an event, create an experience
Sometimes, the draw of a charity or cause alone just isn’t enough. Consider throwing an event that serves as a fun and unique experience. This can be a great foot-in-the-door way to get people interested before hitting ‘em with the “ticket proceeds go to the fight against [MY CAUSE]!”*
Take Chicago’s Ditka Dash. Your ticket gets you a shirt, fake mustache, a beer, aviators, and a few other pieces of Mike Ditka-worthy swag. On the surface, it’s just a kind of ridiculous and ridiculously awesome event. But at the top of their site, there’s a “CHARITY” section where your team can sign up to raise money for The Special Olympics for extra swag and some huge prizes.
*Important note: always be upfront and clear, though, that proceeds are going to a charity. Don’t be shady and secretive about it, that reflects poorly on you and your cause.
Having tee-swag is pretty much a given for most events, causes, and charities. Here are a few creative ways to sell tees for your cause or charity:
- Have an online shop: While it’s always good to have some apparel on-hand to sell during an event, printing a bunch of shirts that may not sell can hurt your budget. Opening an Artist Shop to sell apparel for your cause is free, you never run out of sizes, and it’s a great way to test which designs sell best before ordering a bunch of product to sell IRL.
- The devil is in the design details: Make your design stand out. For example, for events like 5Ks, make the design event-specific so that people can celebrate their participation (ex. for a college event like “Nearly Naked Mile,” people are going to want shirts flaunting that they participated) For ongoing campaigns and causes, consider making the designs something more lasting and unique, like the “Soilmate” Artist Shop’s clever designs that also spread the word about buying local.
- Don’t be afraid to be edgy: The Keep a Breast foundation’s rubber bracelets were crazy successful…because they featured the slogan “I Heart Boobies.” It’s attention-grabbing while also relevant to their cause without just slapping the cause’s name on a bracelet. Or take the “Badass Women” Artist Shop: it stands for the cause of celebrating women and feminism by selling designs featuring awesome women with the slogan “BADASS.” on the bottom of every shirt.
- Make the tees “Limited Time Only!” You can start an online shop, and close it down after a certain date to create get-it-til-its-gone urgency. Or, sell tees online at a discount leading up to an event (think “early bird” discounts), then bump the price after a certain date.
- Budget for tees to give away for free, or sell IRL – everyone loves rad free tees. Budget so that you can print a bunch of shirts to give away or sell IRL.
Threadless Artist Shops are free to sign up for and we take care of all the printing, shipping, and returns so you don’t have to. Start one for your cause!
3: Hardcore Budget Yourself
This might seem like a weird tip in a “how to raise money” article. But you can’t raise any money if you have no control over how much your spending, or if you’re spending too much. Make sure you plan out how much you’re spending so that you don’t break even or worse, spend more than you make!
4: Partner with a relevant sponsor (or just a solid sponsor)
This can be great cross-promotion between you as the sponsor, as it gets their name out there too. Plus they might even be able to donate perks for giveaways if you’re planning on doing a raffle, online auction, giveaways, etc. If you can pair with a relevant sponsor who shares interest in the type of cause you’re raising money for, that’s extra good because chances are, they share the same type of audience you want to target for your cause. Speaking of which…
5: Know your audience
This is important for pretty much every aspect of money-raising. From the tee design to the giveaways to the venue to the type of event and sponsor, if you’re not appealing to your target demo and audience, you’re not going to get as successful of a result. Make sure you understand what you’re trying to accomplish, who it would appeal most to, and who you’re catering to – this could mean the difference between raising money and flopping.
There are so many moving parts to a non-profit company. One thing that can be a little more difficult than it seems is filling out a W-9 for your non-profit. Check out this LegalZoom link that will guide you through filling out a W-9 the right way for your cause.
Check out these sources for a ton more helpful info:
- “How to Organize an Event to Raise Money/Awareness for Your Organization” – knowhownonprofit.org
- “Top 60 Event Fundraising Ideas” – salsalabs.com
- “17 Fundraising Ideas to Raise More Money” – giveforward.com
- “Top 60 Fundraising Fundraising Ideas” – doublethedonation.com
- “25 Quick Fundraising Ideas for Non-profits” – classy.org
- “10 Steps to a Successful Fundraising Events” – thefundraisingauthority.com
- “5 Things You Need to Know to Throw a Fabulous Fundraiser” – themuse.com
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We’re an artist community built on the power of helping each other succeed — if you’re reading this and have tips of your own to share, please do so in the comments! Thank you!