Google any company or brand along with the words “corporate social responsibility,” and more often than not you’ll find descriptions of how the company is giving back to their community. Education is one of the most popular categories for brands to contribute to, either monetarily or through volunteerism. Whether it’s sponsoring nonprofits, donating products to charities, or partnering with organizations to create their own philanthropic foundations, companies use a variety of tactics to demonstrate that they aren’t just about profit margins.
For the teachers and administrators actually working in schools every day, however, all of these positive actions can feel far removed. When a company partners with a literacy nonprofit, that action, while admirable, doesn’t directly affect the vast majority of students sitting in classrooms across the country.
Any brand that dedicates resources and time to improving education has our allegiance, but there are several who go a step further by giving back directly to the schools that engage with them. These brands aren’t usually the ones mentioned when schools search for fundraising options, which is exactly why we wanted to recognize them. They deserve a shout out for creating a system that benefits schools directly, while educators deserve to know all the possible avenues to getting more resources for their students.
Whether you’re planning a new fundraiser or just want to add another option to your list, consider one of the brands below as a new alternative to the usual fundraising go-tos.
Tuft & Needle: Founded in 2012, this company has become known for their extremely comfortable mattresses that get delivered conveniently to customers’ doorsteps. What they’re not known for is their school fundraising program, but they should be. Tuft & Needle gives 25% of the proceeds from every mattress ordered by your school community back to your school. They even provide you with marketing materials needed to spread the word, as well as a free mattress that your school can raffle off. As Tuft & Needle points out, mattresses are a bigger purchase, which means you don’t need to sell too many before you start seeing a monetary difference.
Primary.com: Parents that have to purchase school uniforms each year may be familiar with Primary.com. Their extensive collection of affordable, quality clothing make building the basics of a kid’s wardrobe easy. Their apparel also comes with the added bonus of being essentially labelless: You won’t find any logos or slogans cluttering their clean and simple products. The biggest bonus of shopping on Primary.com? Their school giveback program, which reroutes 10% of purchases from your school community back to the school.
Gymboree: This brand has been a staple in the world of children’s apparel, but they also have a school fundraising program that often goes unnoticed. Any school can set up a customized Gymboree Storefront website with a personalized URL, and 10% of purchases that are made through that Storefront go back to the school.
Schoola: Schoola is an incredibly unique place for buying secondhand clothing because it directly gives back to schools in two ways. The first has to do with donated clothing. Parents can request donation bags from Schoola that come with pre-paid shipping labels. The clothing that’s donated then gets sold on Schoola, and 40% of the proceeds are given back to your school. But parents don’t have to donate to help your school generate money. Simply shopping on Schoola also benefits Schoola’s partnered schools, which makes registering your school with Schoola even more of a smart move.
French Toast: Another retailer known for supplying school uniforms, French Toast gives parents a way to directly support their children’s school when buying school apparel. Their school fundraising program is called Dollars in Uniform, and gives 5% of purchases back to schools who participate. Joining the program also gives schools access to custom-embroidered apparel and discounts on bulk orders. All parents need to do is to input your unique school code when they make their purchase on uniform-related apparel or any of French Toast’s non-uniform casual styles.
Half Price Books: In 2017, Half Price Books celebrated their 45th anniversary with the goal of donating a million books by the end of the year. They exceeded that goal by over 64,000 books, and have never looked back, continuing to donate almost 725,000 books this year as of this writing. HPB does donate to schools as part of their Million Book Donation Project and while books aren’t the same as money, stocking a school with books gets expensive. Many schools need learning resources like books, and yet don’t have the ability to purchase a sufficient amount for their students. Book donations like the ones that HPB offers can benefit schools greatly, and if your school wants to pursue this opportunity you can start a donation request here.
Custom Ink: Everybody loves T-shirts, especially custom T-shirts for special occasions and even more especially ones that raise money for a worthy cause. Custom Ink, a company that prints custom apparel, has a fundraising feature that makes it easy for your school to launch fundraisers for any upcoming initiative where a portion of every apparel purchase goes back to you. Not only does Custom Ink have an online Design Lab to help ensure your T-shirts look good, but the program also allows people to contribute monetary donations outside of just simply purchasing a T-shirt which means your fundraiser can reach its maximum potential.
Bonfire: Similar to Custom Ink, Bonfire gives organizations a means of fundraising through creating and selling custom apparel. Their platform not only helps you create a visually attractive shirt that your community will want to purchase, but they also help you compose a custom, mobile-friendly webpage around that shirt to explain what you are fundraising for. While giveback programs like Schoola’s and Primary.com’s are great for raising general funds, apparel fundraisers like the ones that Custom Ink and Bonfire help facilitate are effective for specific school initiatives — like sending the entire girl’s basketball team to nationals, or obtaining new and up-to-date equipment for the science lab. They also have the added bonus of giving your school a visible boost of school pride.