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How to Sell Face Masks to Raise Money for Charity

By Danny Starr on May 5, 2020 12:04:43 PM

In case you missed it, the Vancouver Aquarium recently partnered with the Vancouver Whitecaps to sell non-medical face masks for charity.  The campaign made national news recently because they sold over 42,000 masks in just five days.  

We figure they were able to clear about $10 per mask, so this campaign probably raised over $400,000.  The masks are being made in Canada and people can order them with either the Aquarium's or Whitecap's logos on them.  We have spent some time looking at the campaign and think it's a great idea for anyone looking to raise funds.  Here's how you could run a similar campaign:

1) Find a Face Mask Supplier

The best place to start looking for masks is to find a Canadian supplier.  We've been seeing long production and shipping delays from overseas for a few months now and many promotion product suppliers in Canada have pivoted in recent months to offer non-medical face masks. It's likely possible for you to source masks from Canada or even the United States in a matter of weeks instead of matter of months. 

It is also worth noting that people might also prefer to buy a mask that's made locally as a means of supporting our economy at this difficult time.  You will also find that Canadian suppliers will have lower minimums than suppliers based on the United States so it is worth thinking about how many masks you can sell before you make the final selection of your supplier. 

We recommend looking for dye-sublimated masks so you can offer a mask with some sort of exclusive design like they did for the Vancouver Aquarium campaign:

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You could also look at a few different styles of masks and also consider what are being called "tubedanas".  Here's an example: 

tubedana

2) Design Your Masks

Here's where I think you have the opportunity to be really creative and have some fun.  Perhaps you can partner with a well-known local artist or another organization to create something unique.  I think that having the ability to sell a large number of masks is really going to hinge on the fact that you have something exclusive and limited.

Non-medical face masks are likely going to be something people choose to wear for a while.  Some retailers or employers may mandate they be worn but if you think about it, most people are going to need a number of masks in their wardrobe and I think they are going to be the hot fashion accessory this year.

Give people a range of designs to choose from.  Feel free to have branded and non-branded versions.  By going with a full-colour dye-sublimated masks, the possibilities are almost endless.  I would also suggest that you should consider bundling masks with other related products that might be of interest, like hand sanitizer.  Those can be branded as well.

Sala Sanitizer label R3

3) Set Up Your Online Store

It has never been easier to set up and sell product online.  We recently set up an online store for Sala San Marco on the Shopify platform in a matter of days.  They have a 90-day free trial so you don't even have to start paying certain platform costs for a few months. 

You can use the mock-ups of the mask designs you've created to populate the store and you could be taking orders right away.  Just create a new domain or subdomain off your main one (ie: shop.YOURDOMAIN.com) and connect your banking accounts and you're set. 

If all of this is too complicated for you, consider finding a partner that already has an online store and use theirs. 

4) Promote Your Campaign

The first people you should be promoting your campaign to is your existing donor base.  If you have an exclusive design, then give them the first opportunity to purchase.  Email marketing is a great way to start getting the word out.

I would also recommend getting your media relations team involved and doing some outreach to local media to inform them of your campaign.  The campaign in Vancouver got national attention and so it's a pretty timely and interesting story for media right now.

When researching the Vancouver Aquarium campaign, we also noticed that they were able to sell large orders of masks through their corporate partners as a way to have the masks then donated to other organizations that might need them.  This is a fantastic idea.

Screen Shot 2020-05-01 at 4.16.36 PM

Of course social media is a great way to promote your campaign.  Most social media platforms have seen spikes in traffic from between 20 and 40 percent.  I would recommend that you to engage local influencers and celebrities to see if they can help you spread the word.  Send them sample masks and ask them to talk about your campaign. Perhaps you can have a virtual fashion show?

I wouldn't forget about paid ads either, Facebook and Instagram in particular would be great places to pay for placements. 

Obviously, you should have an #hashtag for the campaign to help spread and amplify your message. 

5) Order Fulfillment

I'm sure you're starting to wonder how you get all of those masks you're going to sell into people hands given the current restrictions on physical distancing.   One option is to have your masks orders split up and assigned to volunteers.  Another option would be to have them drop-shipped from the supplier or use a third-party fulfillment operation like the one Shopify has

Conclusion

Charity campaigns like this are great because they are really a win-win for everyone.  Charities and nonprofits can raise much needed funds while supplying people with something they need and will use.  The fact that you have the opportunity to build your brand awareness is simply the icing on the cake.

If you have any questions about how to your charity or nonprofit can do a similar campaign, contact us today.

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Topics: Fundraising

Danny Starr

Danny Starr

Danny Starr the Director of Marketing Strategy at Cyan. He has been working in marketing since 2001. He spends his free time with his wife Kirsten, their two sons, and their dog Murray.