Note: this post is written from my experience using t-shirt sales as a fundraiser for a school club, but the tips here are applicable to any organization.
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I’m the sponsor of my high school’s FBLA club. In addition to the state and national dues that students pay, we also travel to a district leadership conference every February and a three-day state leadership conference every April. Beyond that, any students who place high enough in competition at state qualify for the national conference, which is held in a different city each year (anywhere from Nashville to Chicago to Houston to Anaheim).
All of that to say I know the expenses associated with various clubs and I know that the fees can add up. Most of my FBLA members are also members of other clubs and athletes on various sports teams, too. I try hard to hold a few fundraisers throughout the year to help offset the costs associated with FBLA.
We sell Krispy Kreme donuts and coffee twice a year. That fundraiser is always a hit, and I allow club members to apply the proceeds of their sales directly to their own entry fees and lodging costs. What that fundraiser doesn’t cover, though, is the cost of the bus to get us where we’re going or the chaperon expenses: lodging and meals for the 3-4 adults required to supervise 30-40 high school students.
That’s where our t-shirt sales come in. Every year, FBLA creates and sells a Spring Break-themed t-shirt. We don’t make thousands of dollars from the project (we’re a small school), but we make enough to cover the bus costs for all of our travel and to pay for chaperons, which means we don’t have to pass that expense along to the students.
Having a successful t-shirt fundraiser doesn’t require a degree in graphic design or marketing. Here’s how I do it.
1. choose a universal event
We sell spring break t-shirts because that’s what FBLA did before I took over. You could do Homecoming, Back to School, or just a generic spirit shirt. To maximize profit, though, choose an event that appeals to as many students as possible. Prom, for example, would likely only appeal to high school juniors and seniors. The more students involved with or participating in the event your shirts portray, the more opportunities for sales.
2. design a shirt that appeals to both genders
This is probably a no-brainer, but I pay careful attention to colors and fonts when designing my shirt. I avoid anything too girly or too masculine, as I obviously don’t want to alienate half of my potential customers.