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Fundraisers are powerful tools for bringing communities together and supporting various causes. When it comes to planning a successful fundraiser, one proven strategy is screen printing shirts.
Screen printing is a cost effective way of making shirts – which means you can raise more money for your cause. I’ve been teaching crafters how to screen print with vinyl cut on their Cricut or Silhouette machine for years now. Screen printing with vinyl allows you to use your own custom design that you cut on your vinyl cutter along with the efficiency of screen printing. Learn more about how to get started screen printing at home.
In this article, I will walk you through the process of managing a successful fundraiser using screen printed shirts.
Step 1: Define Your Cause
A lot of times, we decide to fundraise to help out someone really important to us, especially when we hear about their tough situation like an accident or dealing with cancer. Being there for friends and family as they go through health issues is a really solid reason to start up a fundraiser.
Or maybe you want to use your creative talents to raise money for your favorite charity or school organization.
Before embarking on any fundraising endeavor, it’s important to understand your “why” and set achievable financial goals that will drive your efforts throughout the campaign.
Step 2: Design a Compelling Shirt
The design of your screen printed shirt is central to the success of your fundraiser. If you enjoy creating your own designs, get the creative juices flowing!
If you are not as comfortable creating designs on your own, you can look for customizable graphics on Etsy. I suggest including “SVG” in your search terms to find a design that will be formatted for cutting on your Cricut or Silhouette machine.
Another option is to hire a graphic designer. This option will incur an additional expense to keep in mind as you calculate your campaign expenses.
Step 3: Select Blank T-shirts
The shirts you choose to print on can significantly impact your fundraiser's success. If maximizing your profits is your primary goal, you should opt for an economy t-shirt like Gildan or Port & Co. These brands offer unisex, basic cotton t-shirts for under $3.
If sustainability is a driving factor in your fundraising mission, Allmade offers an eco-friendly alternative. Their unisex blank t-shirts are made from recycled water bottles. The quality and feel of these shirts is amazing! Because these blanks will cost more, you should factor that into the price of your shirts. Your supporters will pay more for a premium t-shirt that is going to be comfortable to wear.
Step 4: Set a Competitive Price
Based on your t-shirt selection in Step 3, determine a reasonable price for the screen printed shirts. This price should cover the cost of the blank shirt and your supplies, while leaving room for making this a successful fundraiser.
Remember, the goal is to entice participants to support your cause. Most people will be willing to spend more on a fundraiser t-shirt than they would on a graphic tee from a big box store. Don’t be afraid to charge a little more than your standard pricing.
Step 5: Create a Marketing Strategy
Spread the word about your fundraiser through various marketing channels. Leverage social media platforms and local community groups to reach a wider audience. Share the story behind your cause and the significance of the screen printed shirts to build emotional connections.
It’s a great idea to show a mockup of your design to get supporters excited about your shirts. Here’s some information about creating a mockup for free.
Step 6: Offer Pre-Orders
Before printing a large batch of shirts and hoping they sell, consider taking pre-orders instead. This not only helps you gauge the demand but also reduces the risk of overproduction.
If you plan to collect pre-orders in person, create a printed order form where you collect their name, shirt sizes and quantities.
If you plan to run your fundraising efforts online or through text message, consider creating a Google Form to collect order information.
Be sure to highlight the fundraising goals to encourage pre-orders.
I highly recommend collecting money from your supporters when taking their pre-order. This will give you the funds up-front to purchase the blank shirts needed for the project without requiring an initial investment from you.
Step 7: Order Your Supplies
Once your pre-order period has closed, it’s time to order the necessary supplies. By taking pre-orders you should know exactly the number and sizes of shirts to order.
I always order a few extra of each size just in case I make a mistake during the screen printing process. This also allows a few extra in case someone missed the pre-order window.
Step 8: Prepare Your Work Area for Screen Printing
It’s time to get organized so you can screen print all of your shirts at one time. This will help keep your costs low. I like to unbox the shirts and stack them close to my screen printing press.
Prepare your screen with your vinyl design. If you need help with the screen printing process, I offer a step-by-step course here.
Lastly, make sure you have a space to place your shirts to dry after you print them. Clear an area on your floor or tables. You want to work quickly during the screen printing process so your ink does not dry in the screen. Having a plan for where you will place the shirts with wet ink is important.
Step 9: Screen Print the Shirts
Now it’s time to screen print all of your shirts! With one piece of vinyl stuck to your screen printing frame, you should be able to successfully print hundreds of shirts at one time.
Step 10: Dry and Cure the Shirts
If you are using Speedball water-based screen printing ink, the final steps are allowing the ink to dry completely and curing the ink with heat.
I like to leave the shirts spread out around my craft room overnight with a fan circulating air throughout the room.
Then, I cure the shirts by heat pressing them. Here are 6 ways to heat set Speedball ink.
Step 11: Organize and Distribute the Shirts
Once the shirts are dry and cured, you can fold and stack them. Figure out the best system for organizing your shirts for distribution.
You might want to package them by purchaser if you plan to pass out the shirts yourself.
If the supporters will be claiming their shirts at an event, you could organize the shirts by size into boxes.
Be sure to keep good track of the shirts as you distribute them to avoid any missing orders.
Screen-printed shirts have the power to unite communities and drive meaningful change through successful fundraisers. By carefully planning your cause, designing a captivating design, and executing an organized campaign, you can create a memorable fundraising experience that not only raises funds but also leaves a lasting impact on your cause and community. So, gather your team, roll up your sleeves, and start making a difference, one screen printed shirt at a time.
If you are running a t-shirt fundraiser after reading this article, I would love to help support you. Tag me in your social media posts (@pigskinsandpigtails) or comment below with the details of your campaign.