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How to raise $400K for charity: the power of a t-shirt

Note: All figures in this post are current as of February 19, 2017.

Matt Rudinski is a freelance designer and animator from Brooklyn. While he’d describe himself as a regular guy, his Teespring story is anything but. This is the extraordinary story of how a t-shirt Matt launched on Teespring brought together 29,177 people to raise $398,815 (and counting) for Planned Parenthood in just 10 days.

It all began with Matt’s reaction to Senator Mitch McConnell’s statement: “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” After seeing a lot of poorly designed shirts with the slogan, he designed his own—and chose to donate 100% of the proceeds to Planned Parenthood.

He went to bed expecting a few purchases from friends. He woke up with $1,500 in donations. Over the course of 10 days, that figure grew to $398,815.

In this era of connectivity, it’s especially easy to complain on social media without actually doing anything about it. But it’s also easy to act, and Matt’s story, which has been covered in TIMEPeople Magazine, and HelloGiggles, shows that activism can be as easy as creating a t-shirt (Matt: “I really don’t feel like I did that much. Essentially, I just put some words on a shirt. I guess I would emphasize that there are a lot of people out there—what seems like 75% of Brooklyn—that could put words on a shirt and donate part or all of the profit to charity. Hopefully it’ll catch on.”) A t-shirt can serve as a rallying cry, a vehicle to raise money, a creative outlet, and a source of income.

Matt’s idea gained initial traction from his personal network and on Facebook and Twitter, and Teespring rose to the challenge to help Matt accomplish his goal. We’re the foremost platform for fundraising, thanks to:

  • Additional marketing efforts we provide, which brought new buyers and boosted overall sales by 42%
  • In-house production from our facility in Kentucky allows for high margins—or in this case charitable donations—with an emphasis on product quality and customer service
  • Verified donation badges that assure buyers that proceeds will be routed directly to the nonprofit
  • A powerful marketplace with more than 400,000 visitors a day

T-shirts are also a means of self-expression. It says to passers-by and friends, I care about this issue. You are not alone. Actor Evan Handler wore Matt’s shirt on the Today Show to promote an upcoming TV show and received the following reaction on Twitter:

So, a t-shirt is not just a t-shirt. It can be art. It can spur activism. It can even bring together a community.

As Matt told us, “I’ve gotten a couple emails that share specific stories as to why this shirt means so much to them. In one, a young teacher told me about how she was constantly thrown sexist comments by her coworkers, peers, and students. She said that she was thankful for this campaign, that it gave her hope, and that she was grateful for me. That knocked the wind out of me. The fact that I, with a simple shirt design, could help this young teacher through her day—or could help the millions of people that depend on Planned Parenthood’s services—goes beyond words.”

Watch Matt’s thank you video here:



2 responses to “How to raise $400K for charity: the power of a t-shirt

  1. Reza says:

    inspired, thanks

  2. Eka pranata says:

    very Inspired, Thank you

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