Sunday, October 04, 2009

A New Popular Fundraising Method Could Be Replicated By Your Nonprofit

A new type of fundraiser is becoming more popular very recently, and although not each American nonprofit could afford to replicate this fundraising method on the scale being conducted by some, the basic ideas could easily be replicated by any nonprofit to create a new, fresh, and entirely community-related fundraiser.

If you have looked through a fashion magazine or two during the past two months you likely read about major foundations asking either famous artists or children to create art that will be (in these two instances) used as the design for the canvas or leather exterior of limited edition women's totes or purses. Considering which fashion designers are involved, here, these bags are very affordable and the buzz that this specific fundraising method is generating (even in this economy) shows how smart and 'out of the box thinking' this fundraising method is to utilize fashion fads or trends to increase the number of people interested in purchasing a tote or purse. It's really quite brilliant.

Now known as an Italian fashion empire, the Versace name grew to fame in the 1980's through its visionary, Gianni Versace. Tragically, on July 15, 1997 was killed as he left his Miami Beach mansion. Bravely his siblings took over operations and continued their brother's vision. His sister, Donatella Versace has since furthered her brother's styles while invigorating the House of Versace with her own. Ever involved in community (especially per her notorious love and active involvement in the art world), she began the Versace One Foundation. Under its Art Unites program, along with the Starlight Foundations. Versace provided art supplies to 1,400 children (that each foundation serves) and gathered their creations. From the press release, "Each child’s work of art will be fashioned into a one-of-a-kind Versace canvas tote bag which will be sold worldwide at Versace boutiques and the Gilt Groupe, a member’s only ecommerce site this October. The bags are expected to retail for between $200 and $250, and 100% percent of the proceeds from the sale of the bags will be donated equally to Starlight and to One Foundation." The bags will be available for purchase both through the Gilt Groupe (a free online shopping portal that anyone can sign up for) and Versace boutiques. "

Similarly, Target has placed on 42nd Street, in Times Square, billboards featuring four New York artists' work through the end of October that, to quote the press release, will be converted, after, to fashion: "after their run on 42nd Street when the vinyl is restyled into 1,600 limited-edition, affordable tote bags, based on a design conceived exclusively for Target by fashion icon Anna Sui."..."The unique billboard bags are available for $29.99 at while supplies last.

"At the time of purchase, guests can further customize their tote by selecting which of the four artists' work will be restyled into their unique bag. The fashion-forward totes will be shipped to guests in January."

Not only does the billboard feature emerging artists' work, prominently in Times Square; the canvas that the billboard is printed onto will itself be turned into bags (which is recycling); and the number of available bags is limited by the size of the canvas which drives up the popularity and desire for donors to order their bags.

Though it easily could be, this particular program is not a fundraiser, per the press release, and at the time of this post' writing, the Target website does not allow me to purchase a purse, so they may be sold out. You may check, yourself, at

The basic ideas of these two programs could easily be replicated by any nonprofit, though, and the original art could be scanned into a computer and then used to design mugs, calendars, or even limited edition lithographs or printed posters. The beneficiaries of the Versace One Foundation created the art that will be used to design the limited edition bags. Getting the word out about the bags, their pricing being low, limiting availability, and having a big name (fashion designers, in these cases) helped push the popularity, fad, and eagerness to order one. These are each pieces of a fundraising method that any nonprofit could pull together, themselves.

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