You may or may not have heard of the many t-shirt fundraising platforms on the web, but once you join adoption groups and start fundraising you will!
Bonfire is a website where you can design and sell shirts and only shirts (at least right now.) They don’t only do fundraisers but that’s their base. I have heard a few Canadians say that they would use Bonfire, but they don’t know how it’s feasible here. Here is how:
First, Bonfire offers flat-rate shipping at $11 (USD) for Canadian orders. This is the big reason it doesn’t seem practical, because your friends and family want to support you, but they don’t want to buy a t-shirt at a horrible exchange rate AND pay half that over again in shipping. We picked Bonfire because of the flat-rate shipping, and made it work for us. We also picked them because the minimum print order was only 5. We first ordered the shirts for ourselves, and then took pictures of ourselves in the shirts. We re-launched with our photos and took orders from Canadians directly instead of sending them to the website. We then ordered the shirts in one big order at the end of the campaign and only paid $11 shipping for 30 shirts. Now that makes sense!
How does the money side work?
Exchange: We did a conversion the day we launched and rounded to the nearest dollar. That was the price we charged for the shirts. You have to pick a price at the beginning and keep it fixed (unless the exchange rate was to drastically improve, then you could surprise everyone with a discount!)
Proceeds: Bonfire has a sliding scale for how much you will make on a shirt and it varies by style. From 0-10 shirts you only make approx $5-$6 per shirt. At 11 shirts you make double, approx $11 and up (increasing by a few cents per shirt sold.) Their scale does not make any more significant jumps. Basically you NEED to sell 11 shirts.
A quick example using their scale, is a basic unisex tee being sold at $23.99. Profits start with the first 5 shirts at $6.65. At 10 shirts the profit has increased to $6.84 per shirt. At 11 shirts the profit takes a HUGE leap to $13.74 per shirt. If you sell only 10 shirts you will make $68.40. By purchasing an 11th shirt yourself, you now earn $151.14!! The difference is $82.74, once you deduct the cost of the shirt you still made almost $60 more AND you get an extra shirt that you can auction, sell to a friend, wear, etc.
I have actually done some in-depth late-night math for you. (So really it could be wrong.) By my calculations, even at only 7 shirts sold, it becomes worth it for you to start buying your own shirts (and less than 5 shirts your order will not make it to print anyways):
|Shirts||Profit||Total Cost||Total Profit||Cost to make it to 11||Profit after buying extra shirts||Profit Improves|
I had to hide the price column to make this fit, but it assumed the basic unisex tee for a sale price of $23.99. You may have to do your own math because the profits vary by style but the premise is the same.
So basically, at the end of your campaign, buy until 11, no matter where you live! (Although if you deduct shipping for Canadians, it actually becomes profitable at 6 shirts.) I will revisit this math in the morning, it took me a long time to even remember what I was trying to calculate.
Pimp those referral links!
What you will not know until you have already run a campaign, is that Bonfire will provide you with your very own referral link! But by then you’ve already missed an opportunity. By using someone else’s referral link to start your campaign, you earn an extra $1 per shirt, and so do they! This is actually a pretty big deal. It’s kind of the gift that keeps on giving if you use it right. After you’ve run your campaign you can share your referral link too, and earn more that way while helping someone else. Without further ado, here is our referral link!:
What we did was order 10 shirts ourselves at first campaign (we sold one to a friend) and then take pictures of ourselves, friends, and family in the shirts when they arrived (I know, I already mentioned that.) We launched again shortly after, and as I said before, we took the orders and placed one big one. This also allows you to sell from your “inventory.” So now, the shirts you purchased to improve your profit at first run, can all be profit, and not just you buying shirts because its slightly worth it. At the end of the day, we own a lot of shirts, because Jason found the pile and basically wore them all.
We plan to launch once more after everybody has received their shirts, love them, and tell their friends about them. Bonfire is a genuinely good product, so I don’t have a hard time telling people they’re awesome, because they are. I have friends who used a budget local option and not only do I doubt that they were as profitable, the shirts just aren’t as good as the quality a big company with a wholesale discount can get you.
We didn’t really use any other strategies besides the personal pictures, but that on its own made a big difference. Get the shirts on as many different body types as you can, because then people can get a good idea of the fit. It’s hard to buy from a thumbnail of a shirt laid flat.
People are buying this shirt for your adoption. They love you. They want to support you. They may even love adoption, but they don’t want their shirt to say that. Or maybe they do, two or three of them… not 50. You need your coworkers to buy them, friends, acquaintances! Avoid anything too specific. Avoid Bible verses unless you have a huge base of church friends. Avoid specifics about special needs. Maps are fun, country names are too specific. Try to think of a shirt you would want to buy. Think of your favourite band shirts, trendy patterns, popular sayings. Design something for anyone. We did a simple map of Bulgaria with arrows over the east coast. Arrows are pretty popular, the map means something to us and other Bulgaria families, but it doesn’t say “Bulgarian gift shop” to everyone else. The arrows are over the east coast because that’s where our baby is from! For other people, the arrows are just a little decor.
Can’t think of anything? What is the country’s coat of arms? As I said, maps are good! Maybe a map in watercolour? Be creative, but it can also mean something to you.
Should I even do a shirt sale?
Yes. We weren’t planning one because they are so common, but truthfully, I wanted a shirt. I wanted a Bulgaria shirt that I would actually wear. So I looked around a little bit and tried out the Bonfire design tool. I made the shirt in 5 minutes, exactly like what I had in mind! It was so easy that I decided to save the design, launch it, and see what happened! Over our two runs we sold over 50 shirts and made over $500 US! It was one of the easiest fundraisers we’ve done, and we have a keepsake for us and for our circle.
What about shipping once they arrive?
We did not charge for shipping. We ate the $11 from Bonfire because it’s not that much over that many shirts. At the end of the day we only had 3 orders to mail, so we covered that cost. The rest we delivered locally or found free rides for! When you do mail them, pack them into ziploc freezer bags or saran wrap before you put them in an envelope. This will make them nice and flat! If the envelope fits through the letter mail slot, the shipping is only about $4. A box is at least $10 but typically $12-16, so its cheaper to pack them into 2 envelopes if sending multiple shirts.
I think that about covers it! Feel free to message me or comment if you have any questions about Bonfire!