Best Practices for Marketing a Nonprofit Clothing Fundraiser

January 17, 2024 0 Comments

Nonprofit marketing is a huge undertaking—from building your social media presence to solidifying your website’s search engine optimization strategy, there are many tasks you need to complete to spread awareness of your organization and your fundraising efforts. Plus, your marketing strategy will shift depending on what you’re specifically promoting.

As more nonprofits focus on recycling and reducing the estimated 92 million tons of textile waste produced every year, clothing fundraisers have seen a rise in popularity.  However, to host a successful clothing fundraiser, a strong marketing strategy is crucial.

We’ll begin this guide by covering general marketing tips for nonprofit fundraisers. Then, we’ll dive into the specifics of marketing for three different types of clothing fundraiser events. Let’s get started!

General Nonprofit Fundraiser Marketing Tips

Before we cover the specifics of clothing fundraising marketing, let’s review some general marketing tips to ensure you have a good grasp of the basics. A successful marketing approach includes the following steps:

  • Create a thorough marketing plan. Your plan should include your goal, target audience, the budget you can allocate, and a detailed timeline for your marketing efforts. With this information, you’ll have a concrete understanding of what you need to do to ensure your marketing efforts go off without a hitch.
  • Promote your event through multiple marketing channels. Depending on your target audience, you’ll likely want to promote your event through a few marketing platforms to maximize outreach. For example, you could feature event information on your website’s homepage, in your email newsletters, and on your social media.
  • Solicit sponsors to support your event. According to Elevate Nonprofit, one of the best ways to secure funding for your event is by soliciting sponsors. However, these partnerships also provide an added benefit: access to the sponsor’s target audience. By partnering with the right individuals or organizations, you’ll broaden your marketing reach.
  • Leverage the power of your nonprofit CRM. Your constituent relationship management software (CRM) should store key information about your supporters, including demographics, interests, and giving history. Use this information to enhance your marketing efforts through segmentation. Group supporters together by shared characteristics to send targeted messages that encourage action.

If you haven’t already implemented these practices into your marketing efforts, discuss them with your team and consider which ones would be most helpful and feasible for your organization.

Marketing By Nonprofit Clothing Fundraiser Type

If you’re already using the tips above, then you’re ready to learn about how marketing strategies differ between various types of fundraisers. Let’s take a look at how to promote these three nonprofit clothing fundraisers:

  1. Clothing Recycling Fundraiser
  2. Secondhand Clothing Sale
  3. Upcycling and Repair Workshops

1. Clothing Recycling Fundraiser

In a recycling fundraiser, your nonprofit asks supporters to make in-kind donations of recyclable materials. Then, you bring all these donations to a recycling center or similar organization, where you’re paid for the materials you bring in, usually by the pound. Clothing recycling fundraisers specifically are a great, environmentally friendly way for your nonprofit’s supporters to get rid of unwanted clothing and textiles.

When marketing a clothing recycling fundraiser, consider the following best practices:

  • Thoughtfully consider when to host the event. Plan your event for times of the year when decluttering is popular. For example, the beginning of spring is associated with cleaning and tidying up to prepare for the rest of the year. Host your recycling fundraiser during this time so supporters are more likely to respond positively to your appeal for clothing donations.
  • Be transparent about your intentions. Your supporters may already be familiar with the clothing drive, where nonprofits collect or pick up clothing items and distribute them directly to beneficiaries. To avoid confusion, be completely transparent about your intentions. This helps build trust within your nonprofit’s community and ensures that you receive items that will be useful for your organization.

Consider partnering with a recycling organization to make your recycling fundraiser easier for your team members. For example, Phill the Box (a company that accepts clothing and shoes) provides your nonprofit with collection boxes and sends representatives to collect the contents of the boxes at the end of every week. Then, they’ll send your nonprofit a check for every pound of clothing collected. This greatly reduces the burden on your nonprofit’s staff, allowing you to focus your efforts on marketing.

2. Secondhand Clothing Sale

Similarly to a clothing recycling fundraiser, a secondhand clothing sale relies on your supporters to donate clothing to your nonprofit. However, instead of selling these items to a recycling center, your nonprofit will sort through them and re-sell them to supporters and community members in a thrift store-style event.

Follow these best practices to market your secondhand clothing sale:

  • Advertise in multiple rounds. Unlike other events, where the main marketing goal is usually to increase attendees, secondhand clothing sales require multiple forms of action from your supporters. They need to both donate their clothing and attend your sale. Plan out the timing of your marketing efforts well in advance to ensure that you receive an adequate amount of donations and attendees.
  • Build a well-designed event landing page. Since a secondhand clothing sale involves several different events and details, it’s best to build an event landing page. There, you can include all the important event information, including the types of clothing items you accept, the condition they should be in, as well as deadlines for donations and the date and time of the sale event. Ensure that your site looks appealing and is easily accessible by familiarizing yourself with nonprofit web design concepts.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to increase your reach by partnering with businesses. You might ask local clothing stores and thrift shops to advertise your secondhand sale event so your nonprofit can form connections with their networks. Or, you can even ask these stores to donate any unwanted items to your sale.

3. Clothing Upcycling and Repair Workshops

If your nonprofit has any team members familiar with upcycling or sewing, hosting a clothing upcycling or repair workshop is a great idea. Fundraise by asking community members to purchase tickets to attend the workshop.

Here are two ways you can spice up your marketing efforts for this type of event:

  • Create compelling visuals. While you should create fun visuals for all your marketing efforts, a clothing upcycling or repair workshop is well-suited to making visually appealing marketing materials. For example, you could include before and after pictures of clothing items from previous workshops on your social media pages. Or, feature an image of event attendees in your email newsletter to pique interest and garner more registrations.
  • Host the event virtually. Open up your event to supporters across the country by hosting it virtually. Include that information in your marketing materials so your supporters know all are welcome. Plus, you can save a recording of the event and use parts of the footage to create videos for future event marketing campaigns.

As this type of clothing fundraiser is extremely creative, make your marketing materials match and be creative as well. While they should still be branded to your nonprofit, don’t be afraid to play around with color and visuals to create eye-catching ads.

With these marketing best practices and tips under your belt, you’re well on your way to creating engaging promotional materials for your nonprofit’s clothing fundraisers. Be sure to follow additional fundraising event best practices, such as sending follow-up emails to attendees, investing in software solutions to streamline the event, and making registration easy.