When 1.9 billion spectators tuned in to watch the Live Aid telecast in 1985 a beautiful relationship between charities and pop culture blossomed. It only makes sense, Celebrities and pop icons have the fame and the popularity necessary to bring attention to any cause. After the spokesperson usually comes the merchandise. This type of product not only works as a souvenir but also as an ambassador that will continue to spread the message long after the event is done.

And if there’s an object that represents pop culture, that would be the printed T-shirt. Seeing as there are still Live Aid tees being sold online as a sort of collector’s item, it is hard to deny its impact and the potential they have to spread a message.

The benefits of using t-shirts for a charity

Can be a good Giveaway: T-shirts can be a nice way to give something back to a charity’s contributors.

They create awareness: T-shirts can be a great marketing tool. Any person wearing a charity’s tee automatically becomes a spokesperson for the cause.

They Unify: By designing “uniforms” a charity can create a stronger image of a team. A more cohesive company will generate a stronger impact. Generally speaking, when we see a group of people dressed the same way we assume it’s something big.

They’re Inexpensive: T-shirts are a relatively inexpensive way for charities to gather money and in some cases, they may not even require any type of investment. Some online companies will let you sell your t-shirts for free with the condition that they won’t produce them until a certain quantity is sold, which means nobody loses.

How to design a t-shirt for a charity

  1. Think of your storytelling. If you want people to support your cause, they better understand what the charity is about right away. The message should be well-designed and clear. What do you want to say? Reflect on it and try to come up with a graphic way to communicate it. If you’re not an expert you can always ask for help to a graphic designer. Some may even lower their fee if it’s a charity. 
  2. Think of your potential supporters. Who’s likely to contribute to your cause? Is it going to be young adults, or is it an older crowd? Are they more likely to be men or women? Are they fitness fans? If the t-shirts are going to be handed out during a marathon then it might be a good idea to choose garments with fabrics that can transpire and withstand physical exercise.
  3. Think of continuity. Are the t-shirts going to be handed out as a one-time thing or is this a once a year event? A tee that’s designed for a specific event will be more valuable as it will create a sense of urgency and can profit from a fleeting design. On the other hand, a t-shirt that’s meant to be used over time may have less of an impact, but can feature a timeless design and in the long run create a statement.  

charities and t-shirts

Here are a few design ideas:

  • Pay a tribute. What’s the reason for this fundraising? Are you trying to help someone in particular or is it a group of people? A t-shirt can be a good way to pay homage to them. Maybe a picture of their face is not necessary, but instead a signature or a drawing of their hobby, for example.
  • Say it loud and bold. A picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes all you need is a clear written message. If your campaign has a powerful slogan then why not print it in a cool-looking font?
  • A nice illustration. Unicef is known for using cute illustrations to sell products and collect donations. The work of a good artist will raise the value of your product and can even create a collection if different illustrations are painted on different pieces.   

Looking for inspiration

Need inspiration for designing your charity’s t-shirt? Then check out some of these awesome examples:


Help Japan: I couldn’t find the source for this one, but I think that it is safe to say that it was designed to help the victims of the 2011 tsunami. The design is both beautiful and heartbreaking, at the same time.


Victoria Beckham for World AIDS day: Personally, I love it when high fashion and philanthropy meet. This past November the former Spice Girl designed a t-shirt that featured an illustrated heart with red ribbons for eyes. The proceeds collected were donated to the fight against the devastating disease.


Haiti T-shirt: As I mentioned above, sometimes all you need is a powerful typography. In this case, it is accompanied by an illustration of a sun and a map of Haiti, but they’re almost unnecessary as the bold font is the obvious centre of attention here.


Count me in! T-shirts: The t-shirts that were sold at Esprit stores were part of the Every Mother Counts campaign, a charity that aims at improving health care for mothers everywhere. The non-profit organisation was founded by supermodel Christy Turlington after she suffered complications during the birth of her child.


T-shirt designed by The National: The band from Cincinnati, Ohio, designed this t-shirt to support the Yellow Bird Project. A Montreal-based organisation which specialises in selling t-shirts designed by musicians to help different charities.

Do you know of any other epic charity t-shirt we should feature here? Do you have any useful tips for charities looking to design their own t-shirts? Then drop us a comment below! Or engage with us on Facebook or Twitter. In the meantime, keep reading the Printsome Blog for more awesome content.

Printsome is a T-shirt printing agency in the UK based in London that delivers all across the UK, from printing T-shirts in Brighton to York and anywhere in between. So, if you’re after a T-shirt or custom clothing, get in touch for a quote and indulge yourself in some awesome customer service.


Harald is one of the founders of the Printsome-Insights blog! Previously, Senior Content Writer, with over five years experience writing about garment printing, he's now been whisked away into entertaining other audiences with his fabulous words. For over seven years he has been proofreading, blogging, copywriting newsletters/landing pages/social media + editing. Whilst also bringing Printsome brand to life with voice and soul. He is also well-versed in enforcing content styles and content strategies for B2B businesses.

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