Top Ten T-shirt Fundraiser Tips - Part 1

By Cherri Walrod – Founder and Director of © April 2016

T-shirt fundraisers are becoming increasingly popular with adoptive families as a fundraising option. This is new territory to me so I reached out to an expert to get some tips to help guide you.

I talked with Tom Elliott from Bonfire Funds ( recently and we discussed how T-shirt fundraisers can be used for adoption. Because there is so much valuable information, this is part one of a two part series.

Here are a few tips and suggestions to help guide you to the best options for an adoption fundraiser using T-shirt sales.

1. Legitimacy - Confirm legitimacy of company and make sure they can give you referrals or testimonials of families who have been happy with their products and services.

2. T-shirt Quality – Make sure they are using a high quality material. For example: There are a wide range of shirt materials out there. While 100% cotton shirts are not always an indicator of low-end apparel, those freebie-quality “race day” shirts are usually 100% cotton. Using good quality, soft, comfortable shirts is key to keeping your supporters happy, making sure they keep wearing their new shirt for years to come. Shirts that use a “heathered” blend of polyester and cotton are usually far more comfortable. The vast majority of Bonfire’s shirts are “heathered”.

3. Return Policy– Make sure they have a comprehensive return policy. Tom from Bonfire tells me that Bonfire will accept returns for anyone who isn’t happy with their shirt. That means if there’s a problem with the shirt (defects, etc.), like the shirt didn’t arrive in a timely manner, or if it doesn’t fit as expected or if a supporter just plain doesn’t want it anymore, Bonfire will be happy to take it back. To make things right, Bonfire offers supporters the choice between a reprinted shirt or a cash refund for the cost of the apparel. Either way, the fundraiser organizer will never be financially affected by returns, exchanges or refunds.

4. Percentage of profit – What is the percentage of profit you will make from the T-shirt sales? I prefer fundraiser profit percentages to be at least 40-50%. This may vary a bit due to amount of T-shirt orders. For example when you work with Bonfire funds, if you sell at least 20 shirts, your profit should be 50% depending on what price you set for the T-shirts. Typically shirt prices are set at about $18-$20 each. Below I’ve included links to some examples of adoptive families who have recently worked with Bonfire Funds. These families selected a variety of prices and ink colors. This allowed them to attract different levels of additional donations.

Hutzel Family:

LaBahn Family:

Icenhower family:

Zimmerman family:

According to Tom Elliot of Bonfire Funds, here is a brief summary of what these families have been able to accomplish:

“So far, the Hutzels have sold 69 shirts at $20 apiece, making a little over $10 per shirt. Their shirt has two sides, using two ink colors on each side.

The LaBahns have sold 61 shirts so far, also at $20 per shirt. They’re making nearly $11 per shirt because they used less ink colors, and are only printing on one side.

The Icenhowers priced their shirt way lower at $15 each, but they were able to sell a whopping 126 so far, so they’re making a little over $6 a shirt.

Finally, the Zimmermans priced their shirt in the middle, at our default pricing of $17.99. Their two-color design is currently making just over $7 per shirt.” Tom Elliot ~ Bonfire Funds

5. Upfront cost and/or inventory – You do NOT want to be stuck with a bunch of t-shirts you paid for and no one wants. This is another reason why I like Bonfire Funds. You have no upfront cost and no inventory to deal with. Once you set up your T-shirt fundraiser page, they take care of the rest. Bonfire will handle all of the checkout processes, printing, shipping and customer support. This allows you to focus on organizing the fundraiser and energizing your community of supporters.

Be sure to check out the second part of this article in an upcoming edition of Adoption Today magazine.

Next time we will address the next five tips for T-shirt fundraisers which will include: Available designs, Fundraiser Timeline, Fundraising Platform, Fundraiser Payouts and Fundraising on Social Media.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, concerns or need adoption funding solutions, please be sure to visit or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

As always, I am happy to help in any way that I can!

Cherri Walrod
Founder and Director of Resources4adoption
Your Adoption Funding Solutions

Cherri Walrod is mom to six children and the Founder and Director of is the #1 educational resource for adoptive families seeking financial assistance. From help in writing compelling grant and loan applications to providing tips for fundraisers, Resources4Adoption offers personalized support for each family.

Questions? Don't hesitate to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.