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telling-a-story

Telling a Story with your Tee

Storytelling is the key to marketing your t-shirt, whether you’re fundraising for your nonprofit, or for a personal fundraiser. Captivating your community as you tell your story behind the tee you’ve created and the cause you’re fundraising for will help your audience connect more intentionally to your cause and lead to more shirt sales during your Bonfire campaign.

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The Big Picture Project travels the world to teach underprivileged communities the art of photography. Their shirt design reflects this mission.

What is your story?

Before you can tell your story, you have to know what it is. If you’re with a nonprofit, talk with your team to find out if this is something you already have established. (Most likely your website’s About Page will be a great place to start.) If you’re fundraising independently or if your organization doesn’t have an established story, take a moment to sit down and think about these questions.

Why is the cause important to you?

How did this cause become yours? What is the founding story of your organization or mission? Of all the do-good causes you could put energy towards, you chose yours. Think about what shaped your organization’s beginnings, and why you personally chose to work toward making the world better in that way. Just think, what moved you to action will most likely move your supporters too.

What impact have you seen from the work you are doing?

Think about the goals you’ve already reached, and what you or your organization have accomplished so far in your journey. Are there specific people that you’ve been able to help? Show your supporters what’s been accomplished already, so they are even more committed to helping you toward the next goal.

What moments have you experienced that have motivated you on your mission?

Was there a defining moment or conversation that began your journey with this cause? Think about the people you’ve met in the process. Who’s story has moved you and motivated you to continue your work?

What are your specific fundraising goals for this campaign?

What are you fundraising for? Think about your target goals for the campaign, whether it’s fundraising a certain amount of money, or creating t-shirts to establish a feeling of community around your cause. If your goal is monetary, make a list of what the fundraised money will be used for. Leading with the tangible impact your fundraiser will make helps people connect more easily to your efforts.

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Little Miss Flint’s t-shirt design features water bottles to reflect all the water bottles Flint residents use to get their water. She’s also claimed the phrase “Don’t Forget Flint” in a bold way on her tee.

How to tell your Story with your Tee

Now that you’ve defined the story you are trying to tell, and the goals for your t-shirt campaign, let’s walk through all the ways you can communicate your story in each step of the campaign.

T-shirt Design

Don’t underestimate the power of the t-shirt design itself in communicating the message behind your campaign. Thinking intentionally and specifically about your cause when designing your t-shirt will ensure you end up with a t-shirt design that feels personal to your specific mission/organization. Here are a few ways you can tell your story with your t-shirt:

  • Include an illustration of what the raised funds will help do. Will the money raised provide clean water to a community? How can you include a reference to water in your design? Are you fundraising for your local animal shelter? Feature a favorite dog or cat at the shelter.
  • Incorporate the location of your cause. If your cause is based in a certain place, you can include an outline or silhouette of the county, state, or country in your design.
  • Display a prominent phrase that’s been formative to your cause in your design. If your organization has a short and powerful mission statement, or if there’s a specific word that’s inspired your cause, think about making it the focus of your t-shirt design.

Campaign Page

The Bonfire Campaign page enables you to add photos, videos, as well as links to help you tell your story and the details of your cause better. Don’t underestimate the power of including photos of your cause on the campaign page. Tell the full story with images in this way:

  • Include photos that show the big picture of your cause, but also show photos of individuals involved in your cause. These personal photos pair well with testimonials and personal stories.
  • Introduce the problem you’re trying to solve. Show the “before” of what’s happening so that supporters can see the need.
  • Reveal the solution to the problem. Most likely, the profits from your t-shirt fundraiser will go directly toward providing this solution. Remember, leading with the impact a t-shirt sale brings will motivate your supporters to buy a shirt.

Promotion Plan

Planning how you will promote your t-shirt is one of the most formative and important steps in your Bonfire Campaign process. As you plan your social media posts and email blasts, think about how to maximize the emotional pull through telling the story behind your cause. Here are some points to cover when promoting your t-shirt campaign:

  • Talk about the goals of your campaign. Remember, if your goal is to raise $5,000, it’s more impactful to lead with the impact of those funds. How will the money be used? For example, it’s more motivating to a supporter to hear that one shirt provides five meals than to hear that 1 shirt raises $10.
  • Tell stories from your community. Show the people behind the cause. Share their testimonials about how their lives have been bettered with the help of your organization. Or, have a donor share why they’ve joined this cause by supporting you financially.
  • Post about the work you’ve already accomplished, and what you hope to accomplish with the funds raised by this campaign. Show photos of what your organization is working on.

To learn more about what to talk about when promoting your campaign, and how to create a promotion schedule, read Chapter 3 of our Seller Guide. It’s a super helpful resource for those who are new to selling apparel as a fundraiser, and will help you tell your story in every step of your t-shirt campaign.