Being a T-shirt printing company we’ve seen many friends trying to crowdfund their T-shirt projects, some successfully, others not so much. It’s been in the last few years when people really started to look for alternative ways to fundraise their ideas and crowdfunding is probably one of the most popular ones. But, what do you really need to succeed in such a competitive world?
We know it’s a hard question, and even a harder task if you will. Actually, since Kickstarter opened its door 7 years ago more than 16,000 fashion projects were started (that’s about six projects every day) but only 23% of those got funded (which is more than one successful project a day!).
So many people trying to do all of them the same thing. Does that work?
To definitively answer that question we’ve analysed some recent successful crowdfunding T-shirt projects looking for things they have in common. Do you want to know what it is? Easy, keep reading.
Analysing Successful Crowdfunding T-shirt Projects
Let’s take a look at some great t-shirt projects funded with different platforms:
- Platform: Indiegogo
- Date: April 2016
- Amount raised: £1527
- 102% of the target
Tired of hearing reports of cyclist deaths, Joseph Hunt decided to launch a t-shirt brand to raise funds for the charity Roadpeace to promote cyclists’ safety on the road. Joseph created three different t-shirt designs in different colours, with a range of warning messages to motorists. The design itself is very clean and clear, but most importantly, as always with design, it communicates the desired message clearly to the intended receiver.
We think that this project was fully funded due to its incredibly well-communicated aims and solid base in fundraising for a cause.
- Clear, concise and short presentation video of 1,36 minutes.
- Details of the designs clearly displayed with high-resolution photos.
- Breakdown of what the funding would go towards.
- Various levels of participation.
- Support from other entities, such as The Telegraph.
- Platform: Indiegogo
- Date: March 2016
- Amount raised: $2,289USD
- 114% of the target
A slightly more complex crowdfunding campaign, BizyTee aims to support entrepreneurs out of poverty through t-shirts. So how does this work? Well, the idea is that for every T-shirt purchased, 1 dollar goes towards microloans. Micro loans support business starters with the initial capital they need to get up and running, whilst the t-shirts serve as conversation starters for shy entrepreneurs. You can read a lot more about the project on Indiegogo, but for now, here are the reasons that we think this campaign was successful.
- Explanation and motivation for starting the project (personal experiences).
- Multiple aims and benefits of the project.
- Very detailed explanation and background provided about the social context.
- Testimonials from existing supporters.
- That human touch!
- Platform: Indiegogo
- Date: March 2016
- Amount raised: $1,171 USD
- 234% of the target
These guys have cracked their online marketing since they have been youtubers since 2010 and at the time of writing have a following of nearly 25,000 subscribers. So, when they launched their t-shirt campaign to help them get to the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference, it was a little less surprising that they achieved double their target. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t have to work hard for their crowdfunding project, and there are still plenty of things that we can learn from their success.
- They have lots of designs and colours.
- Appeals to a specific community of people.
- They make it clear exactly where funds will go.
- Honest about shipping costs.
- High-quality mockups and photos.
- Good, clean design.
- Platform: Indiegogo
- Date: August 2015
- Amount raised: $1781 USD
- 148% of the target
14-year-old Madi Malo’s campaign is short, sweet and straight to the point. She wants to learn screen printing techniques and get her designs onto t-shirts. The key to this campaign, set up by her father, is that he emphasizes that the plan is not simply to sell t-shirt designs – for that they could get them printed elsewhere. The money went towards buying the necessary screen printing equipment so that Madi would not only learn a new skill but be able to develop as an artist and create a means of income for herself. Who doesn’t admire the love a father shows for his teenage daughter? This project really gives you the feeling that you’re investing and not simply spending your money on a t-shirt.
- A wide range of colours, sizes and designs.
- Personal touch – description of Madi.
- Engagement in the campaign, i.e. updating it when they reach their goal.
- Short, simple presentation video.
- Platform: Indiegogo
- Date: August 2015
- Amount raised: $7,000 USD
- 100% of the target
This project, headed by religious couple Zach Lezniewicz and his wife, is all about love. They want to ‘change lives, one t-shirt at a time.’ Although the project’s presentation video is 5 minutes long, it is with reason. This project has a solid basis and aims to support orphaned children at the Ebenezer Grace Children’s Home in Ethiopia whilst promoting the clothing brand. They have some really cool designs, which they present using great graphics and nice typography.
- Excellent t-shirt design and overall presentation.
- Lots of information about the project and its aims.
- A personal touch and positive vibe.
- Alternative ways to support the project.
- Attention to marketing and promotion.
- Platform: Gofundme
- Date: July 2014
- Amount raised: $10,495 USD
- No original target stated.
The Tweedie Family project is evidence of the power of the t-shirt in both enforcing a sense of community and telling a beautiful story. Not all crowdfunding projects are about business. Brian Tweedie battled with illness and eventually cancer for over a year. His family started up a crowdfunding project through gofundme in order to raise money to pay for his medical bills, providing t-shirts saying ‘Tweedie Strong.’ 108 family and friends (and potentially other anonymous donors) made donations of over 10,000 dollars to support the family. Even now, they maintain their Facebook page supporting the campaign and provide updates and anecdotes in memory of Brian. Since his passing, they seem to have kept this incredible sense of community alive in his memory with the campaign T-shirt. This is a truly beautiful, personal, t-shirt project, perfectly selected for this personal crowdfunding platform.
- Sense of community
- Personal cause
- Regular updates on the campaign before, after and during
- Photographs of donors wearing their t-shirts
- Separate Facebook page
- Platform: Rockethub
- Date: December 2013
- Amount raised: $1030 USD
- 103% of target raised.
Apart from a cool project, Clinton Thai also gives us some excellent advice on his Rockethub based project.
“Every dollar matters.
Every view matters.
Every thread of interest matters.”
And he is absolutely right. Broken Shirts is a t-shirt branding project with a difference. Clinton used this campaign to test the viability of setting up a small non-profit business and he was completely transparent about the fact that he had ‘nothing but designs’. That said, he raised just over his original target, leaving him with the cherry on top: just enough to make a donation to the charity World Vision to seal the deal. He has a range of thought-provoking designs, which are nicely illustrated and to the point. He even comments about how people may find his designs a little controversial, though explains that if the aim is to raise awareness and the designs provoke a conversation then that’s job done. We like his logic. Just a little disappointed that we were no longer able to access the video presentation of the project, as we’re sure it would have been a good’un.
- Clearly explained, transparent plans
- Unique designs, in a range of colours
- Good cause behind the design concept
- Excellent mockups of products
What can we learn from these successful t-shirt projects?
So, after our t-shirt project, crowdfunding investigation, what are our conclusions? Well, the good news is, that each of the campaigns we selected can teach us something a little different about what key elements a t-shirt project needs in order to be successful. So what things do these successful projects have in common?
1# Clearly explained, transparent plans
The majority of these projects have clear, well-explained goals with simple messages. Your audience needs to be able to fully understand what it is you are doing and what you are trying to achieve. This sounds incredibly obvious, but we know that with the wealth of information and opportunity on the Internet, our attention spans are gradually reducing. Make your project, easy, if not enjoyable to read and learn about. Try using bullet points to help yourself write concisely and with clear aims. Less is more.
2# Good cause behind the design concept
Often the cause speaks louder than the design. If there’s one thing evident from all of these examples, it’s that people’s wallets are connected to their heartstrings. No emotional element to your campaign? Then you probably won’t raise a penny. People don’t fund personal projects out of the good of their hearts, they fund them because they can identify with you, or an external cause related to your project, or because you genuinely represent an investment for them. Tell them who you are, where you come from and why this project means so much to you.
3# Variety is the spice of life
Remember that some funders are genuinely interested in the product itself, and not necessarily in the cause. Even so, be sure to offer a wide range of sizes, and ideally colours to suit your fans needs. The majority of the projects we have selected here have 2+ designs minimum, and if not, the cause tends to play the protagonist in the campaign.
4# Show off your designs!
We mentioned this before, but the evidence just goes to show, high-quality product photos are essential and nowadays there’s absolutely no excuse in an age when billboards can be made with iPhone piccies.
5# A sense of community
Crowdfunding platforms in themselves have a strong sense of community, naturally inherited from the very premise that they are based on. However, you can also create a sense of community through your campaign. Post photos of donors (or even just your family) sporting your t-shirts, as this can go a long way. This creates a sense of authenticity in your project. You could also use a Facebook page to generate a buzz around your T-shirts or any other social media network tool for that matter.
6# Regular updates on the campaign before, after and during
Think of crowdfunding as a little slice of being on a reality TV show. Ok, so we’re not saying that you need to generate hot gossip deliberately, but you do need to keep your supporters informed of how things are going, any new initiatives you are introducing into the campaign, landmarks that you make, etc. This makes donors feel like you’re taking things seriously and gives them a feeling of value, whilst it simultaneously promotes your campaign.
7# Overall presentation
The overall presentation of your project is so important that you may have noticed how some platforms practically do it for you, asking relevant questions and dividing things up well visually. For those that don’t, take into consideration, that dividing things into paragraphs, using clear headings, photographs, etc. can help to make your project stand out from the rest.
8# Suggest alternative ways to support the project
Whilst we don’t see this quite so regularly, we think it’s an excellent idea. Remind potential donors that it’s not all just about the money; in fact, social shares and other forms of support also go a long way. Sometimes it’s more valuable to have a project supported by 100 people paying £1, than 1 paying £100. Consider making a very low-level contribution to encourage potential supporters who have less to invest.
9# Pay attention to marketing and promotion
These crowdfunding websites may be platforms, but then so is the diving board at your local swimming pool – you to still have to jump in order to make a splash. The site won’t make your project succeed overnight, it needs love and attention and support through external channels in order to be seen, and just like the Tweedie family case, these channels may provide a place where your project can live on, even once the campaign is over.
10# Short, simple presentation video
On most sites, you are required to provide a presentation video of your project. Take this very seriously. As we mentioned before, you need to shoot a brilliant video. Check out other projects in order to get an idea of what you like and don’t like about them. In general, we wouldn’t recommend recording anything longer than around 1,30 minutes – if you can’t explain your whole project in that time, perhaps a) your idea is too complicated or, b) you haven’t defined your goals well enough.
11# Know how to ask
Remember when you used to have to beg your parents for a few extra quid to get the latest album or go to the cinema? You would be very careful how you asked, knowing that if you didn’t fight your cause well enough, you wouldn’t get a penny. Well, that experience is entirely relevant right now. People are much more likely to invest in you if they know exactly where their pennies are going and why. Provide examples, explain costs, even links to the materials you need to buy in order to produce your T-shirts like Mali Malo did – anything to make the ‘buyer’ feel more confident that you are going to deliver the goods. Consider including details about shipping costs, and any relevant breakdowns or calculations you’ve had to do to make the project viable.
12# Can anyone else put in a good word for you?
If you’ve managed to get all of the above under control, give your project the ultimate push by seeing if you can get any other entities involved. The redacted t-shirt project, for example, had a supporting article from The Telegraph, as the project was considered newsworthy. You may not be able to get this level of coverage, but where there are charities involved, certainly asked them to support you with the cause. And it goes without saying, hassle friends and family to share, share, share.
Naturally, each potential project has its own angle and objectives, so should you have any doubts about yours, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with one of us at the Printsome Team, so we can put your mind at rest.
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