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Doing Good One T-Shirt at a Time











 






 

Designing for good: (from left) Dale Partridge and Aaron Chavez of Sevenly.

 


GDO Report

ATLANTA - The premise is simple, but the results are impressive. Every week, Fullerton, Calif.-based Sevenly sells one new, original design on T-shirts and hoodies and donates $7 per sale to its charity of choice.

When the week is up, so is the opportunity to buy that particular design. The limited window creates a sense of urgency to purchase, says Dale Partridge, who founded Sevenly with friend Aaron Chavez.

Shirts emblazoned with "Awaken our hearts to end hunger" raised more than $11,000 for Relief International, a nonprofit that responds to humanitarian crises. "Girls are not for sale" helped Girls Educational & Mentoring Services provide safe haven and education for victims of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking. And "It's time to listen / Care for autism" raised nearly $23,000 for Autism Speaks.

Share your thoughtsThe numbers still surprise Partridge. When they launched their website in June 2011, he and Chavez figured they'd sell about 20 shirts, mostly to friends and family. They ended up selling more than 300 within 24 hours, and 860 the first week, raising more than $6,000 for International Justice Mission, a human-rights agency. Since then, sales of T-shirts and hoodies--priced at $22 and $35, respectively--have raked in more than $260,000 for various charities.

With 50 charities a week applying to be part of their campaigns, Partridge and Chavez feel the pressure to make good choices. The organizations' missions must fit within at least one of Sevenly's seven chosen categories: human trafficking and slavery prevention; access to potable water; medical causes; hunger solutions; disaster assistance; poverty relief; and a general aid category that includes assistance in areas like suicide prevention and homelessness.

The shirt design can make or break a campaign, so Sevenly's designers, called the "Type Team," are a critical part of the process. "If we have a really powerful design and a less emotional cause, the shirt would do better than if we had a great emotional cause and a poor design," Partridge says. Sevenly uses premium fabrics and water-based inks to capture fine artistic detail; the shirts are manufactured in Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production-certified child-labor-free facilities in Nicaragua, Peru and China.

There are no plans to change the "lucky" business model of seven days, seven causes and seven charitable categories, but Sevenly may expand by selling other products, such as prints of the artwork designed for shirts.

Partridge and Chavez hope to raise more than $1 million for charities by 2013 and are on the hunt for venture capital. Partridge is also working on training programs, books and videos to help charities better harness the power of social media, especially for capturing younger donors.

"I don't think there's any person on planet Earth that gets a chance to work with a charity as intimately as we do every week," Partridge says. "By doing that, we have a chance to train charities so they leave our campaigns smarter than when they came in."

In a survey of customers and social media users, 73 percent say they're more likely to donate to or volunteer for a charity as a result of Sevenly's efforts.

94 percent of respondents say they are more educated about causes because of the company.

51 percent prefer to support a cause by buying a product vs. donating directly to a charity.Social media drives 85 percent of Sevenly's sales. Influencers with large followings spread the word about each campaign; some do so simply because they like Sevenly's charitable component, while others are compensated. The company has also launched a mobile-optimized site.

The shirt design can make or break a campaign, so Sevenly's designers, called the "Type Team," are a critical part of the process. "If we have a really powerful design and a less emotional cause, the shirt would do better than if we had a great emotional cause and a poor design," Partridge says. Sevenly uses premium fabrics and water-based inks to capture fine artistic detail; the shirts are manufactured in Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production-certified child-labor-free facilities in Nicaragua, Peru and China.

There are no plans to change the "lucky" business model of seven days, seven causes and seven charitable categories, but Sevenly may expand by selling other products, such as prints of the artwork designed for shirts.

Partridge and Chavez hope to raise more than $1 million for charities by 2013 and are on the hunt for venture capital. Partridge is also working on training programs, books and videos to help charities better harness the power of social media, especially for capturing younger donors.

"I don't think there's any person on planet Earth that gets a chance to work with a charity as intimately as we do every week," Partridge says. "By doing that, we have a chance to train charities so they leave our campaigns smarter than when they came in."

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