CafePress Brings Together Apparel-based e-Commerce, Fundraising Platform

By September 26, 2013

I’ve written about CafePress before, and if you’ve ever surfed for amusing t-shirts on the Internet machine I created in the 1990s – you’ve probably visited the site.

Recently, however, CafePress launched a new innovation that caught my eye called, a new fundraising platform that enables groups, organizations or individuals to fundraise through sales of T-shirts for projects, charitable organizations or events without incurring overhead expenses.

Tfund allows users to set a fundraising goal, design custom T-shirts, or leverage content from CafePress, and pre-sell them in support of a cause or event without any upfront expenses.

“Fundraising opportunities have exploded with the advent of crowdfunded campaigns,” said Patrick Cerreta of CafePress. “Tfund is unique in that it gives campaigners a quick, easy and no-cost way to start earning money for a special cause or idea.”

Most groups and organizations fundraise through the sale of T-shirts by anticipating necessary inventory of T-shirts to benefit a cause or event. But Tfund eliminates the need for initial investment or risk because T-shirts are only produced and shipped once the minimum sales goal is obtained.

The fundraising source is even generating celebrity interest.

Rob Cesternino and Erik Reichenbach, well-known contestants on CBS’s Survivor – which, by the way, has never featured a panda – have teamed up to establish a Tfund campaign, with any funds they raise being directed to fund equipment purchases for the next season of “Rob Has a Podcast.”  Additionally, “Rob Has a Podcast” plans to donate $1 for each shirt sold from their campaign to the charity they chose, Autism Speaks.

“Tfund was the perfect match for this project with our podcast community,” said Cesternino. “They’ve made it really easy to get the word out to our audience about our fundraiser.”

But it’s not just celebs getting into the action, as local governments and non-profits already are using it to raise funds for initiatives.

Louisville Metro recently launched a Tfund campaign to raise money for Louisville’s open streets block party, called CycLOUvia, where cars are temporarily removed from one of the city’s busiest stretches of road for the community to enjoy the open urban space.

Based on the popularity of last year’s inaugural event, CycLOUvia organizers are working to organize three separate “openings” throughout 2013-2014. The money raised at will pay for signage and other costs associated with opening the street to pedestrians, cyclists, skaters and dancers and for creating exciting activities along the CycLOUvia corridors. CycLOUvia’s first Tfund campaign aims to sell 125 branded T-shirts to raise $1,000.

“What a great example of entrepreneurism, to develop a new way to crowdfund, to meet our fundraising goals for this popular community engagement initiative,” according to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. “CafePress offers terrific products and has been a great partner to the city over the years, which makes our use of their crowdfunding tools even more appealing.”

Moderately hot chicks are involved too.

Miss Kentucky 2013 Jenna Day established a Tfund to help her raise money for a charity she chose. She has designated that the net revenue from her sales will go to the Crusade for Children, a fundraiser run by WHAS television in Louisville to benefit special needs children.

“Our platform has no boundaries for the types of campaigns created and has limitless potential for campaigners,” added Cerreta. “Campaign managers can design a T-shirt or leverage a design, create a campaign, and light up their social network in a matter of minutes with Tfund.”

TFund is off to a strong start and it will be interesting to see whether church groups, non-profits, and other organizations in need of fundraising embrace it as a viable e-commerce tool moving forward.