Design, Sell, Impact: Using T-Shirts to Change Lives

By Mark I. Sutherland

tfund-groupCafePress Inc. recently introduced, a new fundraising platform that enables groups, organizations or individuals to fundraise through sales of T-shirts for projects, charitable organizations or events without incurring overhead expenses. It’s crowdfunding for causes, with the added benefit of getting your supporters to promote your cause whenever they wear their shirts.

According to Tfund, it’s a simple system. Tfund allows users to set a fundraising goal, design custom T-shirts or leverage content from, and pre-sell them in support of a cause or event without any upfront expenses.

“Fundraising opportunities have exploded with the advent of crowdfunded campaigns,” said Patrick Cerreta of CafePress. “Tfund is unique in that it gives campaigners a quick, easy and no-cost way to start earning money for a special cause or idea.”

Up until now, many groups and organizations fundraise through the sale of t-shirts by anticipating necessary inventory of t-shirts to benefit a cause or event. But Tfund eliminates the need for initial investment or risk because T-shirts are only produced and shipped once the minimum sales goal is obtained.

The fundraising source is also generating celebrity interest. Rob Cesternino and Erik Reichenbach, well-known contestants on CBS’s Survivor, have teamed to establish a Tfund campaign, with any funds they raise being directed to fund equipment purchases for the next season of Rob Has a Podcast. Additionally, Rob Has a Podcast plans to donate $1 for each shirt sold from their campaign to the charity they chose, Autism Speaks.

“Tfund was the perfect match for this project with our podcast community,” said Rob Cesternino. “They’ve made it really easy to get the word out to our audience about our fundraiser.”

In addition, local governments and nonprofits already are using the innovative fundraising platform to raise funds for initiatives.

Louisville Metro recently launched a Tfund campaign to raise money for Louisville’s open streets block party, called CycLOUvia, where cars are temporarily removed from one of the city’s busiest stretches of road for the community to enjoy the open urban space. Based on the popularity of last year’s inaugural event, CycLOUvia organizers are working to organize three separate “openings” throughout 2013-2014. Mayor Greg Fischer noted the money they raise will pay for signage and other costs associated with opening the street to pedestrians, cyclists, skaters and dancers and for creating exciting activities along the CycLOUvia corridors. CycLOUvia’s first Tfund campaign aims to sell 125 branded T-shirts to raise $1,000.

“What a great example of entrepreneurism, to develop a new way to crowdfund, to meet our fundraising goals for this popular community engagement initiative,” said Fischer. “CafePress offers terrific products and has been a great partner to the city over the years, which makes our use of their crowdfunding tools even more appealing.”

Jenna Day, Miss Kentucky 2013, established a Tfund to help her raise money for a charity she chose. She has designated that the net revenue from her sales will go to the Crusade for Children, a fundraiser run by WHAS television in Louisville to benefit special needs children.

According to Tfund, it takes just four quick steps for a campaigner to set up a Tfund fundraiser. First, create a T-shirt. Second, establish a goal. Third, raise awareness. And fourth, earn money. Sounds pretty simple to this reporter.

Once the threshold goal is met, Tfund collects the money, produces the T-shirts, and fulfills the orders (including shipping and customer service).  The campaigner then receives their check from CafePress for the net revenue from the sales.

“Our platform has no boundaries for the types of campaigns created and has limitless potential for campaigners,” added Cerreta. “Campaign managers can design a T-shirt or leverage a design, create a campaign and light up their social network in a matter of minutes with Tfund.”

You can launch your own campaign by visiting

Mark I. Sutherland is an award-winning communicator and author, originally from the United Kingdom and currently residing in the St. Louis, USA area. He has four published books and writes for the UK Weekly Telegraph and other publications.

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