See how effective simple designs can be?

So, you like to raise funds for important causes, huh? Then it's probably time to get your merch on!

Buttons are a great for raising awareness of your charitable efforts, of course, but there is also a variety of other stuff for you to check out, like wristbands, keychains, keyrings, ribbons, collection boxes, balloons, pins, stickers and so forth. In other words, you can really bludgeon people over the head raise awareness of your fundraising efforts using many different swag items. Score!

So, we're going to take a look at some of the steps you need to take in order to get ready for your next fundraiser. Let's get it on!

Brand The Event

Before jumping the gun and ordering 5,000 buttons and 10,000 stickers, it might be wise to coordinate with other people on your team and really brand the event. This process is pretty much going to determine what's going on your buttons and other swag (logo, taglines, digital mascots, etc.).

It's like that time I accidentally wore my baseball uniform to a soccer game. The coach made me play as-is. How embarrassing. Here's hoping it never surfaces on YouTube.

So, come up with some good quotes (or taglines), a few designs that you can put on everything (and I do mean everything; buttons, posters, logos, pamphlets, etc. etc.), and get all your stuff in order before ordering (see what I did there?). A disjointed brand will make you look silly, or some such. Well, maybe not, but you'll confuse people a lot less.

Keep It Simple

Creating designs can get overwhelming if they require a lot of attention and work. Look, you're probably going to want to start promoting your event as soon as possible. It's not a good idea to put it off by putting an inordinate amount of time and effort and resources towards the completion of a design.

Sometimes people think that "keep it simple" means to make it suck. No, you don't want your swag or your website or branding to suck (especially if you're going to continue to support an organization over the long haul). "Keep it simple" is not a licence to use magenta polka-dots on a refrigerator green background, Gaussian blurred and Clouded to death in Photoshop. God no.

Anyway, even simple, minimal designs can look great. Just don't get too carried away. If you end up hiring designers and they think the process is going to be complicated, you could end up spending more money on them than you ever intended to (though good-hearted designers should be willing to help out for a bit of promotion; their name on the back of the program schedule, etc.).

Plan Well

How many events are you running? How many people do you expect to show up? How long will you continue to promote your fundraising campaign? These are, like, really important questions to think about (and actually answer), dude.

It's one thing to have done this before so you're able to take your disasters mistakes and learn from them, but it's quite another to have three bajillion buttons and stickers left over after the one-off is done. Trust me when I say that having to go to the dump because of leftover swag isn't that much fun (where else would you be able to offload it anyway?).

It's like putting too much milk in your mac & cheese. You wind up with cheesy pasta soup. Gross. I hear they like that kind of stuff in Japan.

So, figure it all out before you dive right in. Otherwise, you could be diving into a pit of Coca-Cola and alligators. You never know.

Prepare Your Designs

Get in touch with your suppliers and figure out exactly what they need from you (besides piñatas full of sour-soothers and eight cases of Red Bull, of course). Usually, you'll need to save your designs to specific formats (JPG, TIFF, PDF etc.). You'll also probably need to use the supplier's templates to ensure the designs come out looking right. Work with your uber-nerds designers to sort it all out. Make it happen, bro!

What happens when you don't submit your designs according to specifications? Blurred gobbly-goop, like I mentioned earlier. Sometimes it isn't so bad, but you might wind up with colors looking a little different, or certain elements looking pixelated and fuzzy. Some of that might not be such a big deal, but once you've submitted your designs, it's a little late. Ensure that you've followed the supplier's instructions (which can often be found on their website; if not, call them) for Optimus Prime optimum results.

Order Your Swag

If you've made it this far, congratulations! You're not done yet. Not even close!

No, just kidding. You should be getting pretty close at this point.

So, you've gone to the trouble of getting designs made up for your swag. You've prepared the designs in the requested formats. Now it's time to actually order your promotional items.

This process shouldn't prove too complicated if you've prepared adequately (it can usually be done online or by phone). Of course, like I mentioned earlier, you need to have at least some idea of how many people are coming to your event(s) and how much swag you're actually going to need. Quantity is a very important consideration.

As well, you might want to look at additional add-ons at this stage. However, if you haven't budgeted for it, just stick to your original plan. Better to keep on target financially than overspend and have to problem-solve later.

Check with your suppliers to make sure they have everything they need. Double check quantities with them before you have a panic attack, too.

Anything we missed? Of course not! Still, your comments will be lampooned mercilessly. Make sure to leave one!

Cover image by chrisinplymouth

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