Posts Tagged ‘social enterprise’

From 2010 Olympic Banner to Tote Bag

July 21, 2010

Here’s a fantastic opportunity that we want to share with as many people as possible…Common Thread, a cooperative of Canadian social enterprise sewing programs, is producing a few hundred tote bags from re-purposed 2010 Olympic banners. If you think a re-purposed banner bag would be a good fit for your promotions, act soon and you could get a limited edition set (customized with your organization’s logo or campaign message).

What is Common Thread?

Common Thread sources street banners and other fabric for re-purposing into colourful and durable products such as tote bags, drawstring back packs, lunch bags, note book covers and more. Production is coordinated through a network of social enterprises (businesses with a social purpose as their primary motivation) and creates employment for newcomers to Canada and Aboriginal communities, among others. Many of the social enterprises have been started and continue to be hosted by non-profit organizations.

Last year Fairware worked with Common Thread to produce tote bags from SFU banners – that McCuaig and Associates, a client of ours, used instead of wrapping paper for their year end corporate gift.

If you’re interested in a high-quality, unique promotional item that is made in Canada and supports local communities,  act soon, material is available for about 600 bags. Give us a call (604-732-3247) and we’ll provide you with all the details.

10 Tips for Setting up a Merchandise Program for your NGO

April 21, 2010


We often get calls from non-profits wanting to get branded products (“merchandise”) to sell as fundraisers. It’s a great idea in theory, but like most things in life, reality can be cruel. We’ve crafted a list of 10 things to consider before launching into a merchandise program to help smooth the bumps along the way.

These points are designed for organizations considering merchandise sales – either directed at end consumers (retail style sales) or directed at internal buyers (e.g. setting up a bulk purchasing program for your different chapters or departments).

You might not have all the answers to the questions posed below – BUT between your organization and the merchandising partner you choose, make sure you  have all the answers or you’re bound to hit a few hurdles along the way.

1. Define the Purpose of the Program

  • Identify the primary and secondary purpose of the program. For example, is the program designed to generate revenue, build brand awareness, build your contact list, or to consolidate purchasing to pass on savings to your end buyers?
  • Caution: Many organizations start out with visions of their merchandise program being a significant revenue generator for their organization – and are often disappointed at the results. Some good planning will help set realistic targets and ID secondary benefits at the outset so you can meet the outcomes you set.

2. Create a Business Case

  • Do the math. Sounds simple but it’s a critical step that many people miss. If you purchase a t-shirt for $8.00 and sell it for $20.00 you make $12.00, right? Actually, no, you don’t. You need to account for the time put into setting up the program, design time for graphics, time or $ spent ‘picking and packing’ (getting a product packed and shipped), hosting fees if the store is online, etc. Understand that the time for a return on investment may be longer than expected.
  • Assess your systems. Do you have an online merchant account to accept payment? Do you know the tax laws as they relate to selling merchandise or accepting donations on a website? Think through the details, sweat the small stuff.


Hope in Shadows Calendar – a great holiday gift

December 17, 2009

“Daphne’s Grandchildren” by Steven Mayes. The winning photo from the 2009 photography contest.

This year Fairware provided embroidered toques to the Hope in Shadows campaign at cost. The toques will be worn by sellers of the annual Hope in Shadows calendar, a fantastic initiative focused on promoting empowerment and employment on Vancouver’s downtown Eastside.

The calendars are tied in with an annual photography contest and are sold primarily on the streets of Vancouver by homeless and low-income vendors. Vendors purchase calendars for $10 each and sell them for $20, earning $10 on every calendar sold. Free training and support are provided to those interested in managing their own micro-business.

If you can’t find a vendor in your neighbourhood, other options for purchasing calendars are outlined on the Hope in Shadows web site. There’s also a Hope in Shadows book available which features stories behind some of the stunning contest photographs.

Both make a wonderful gift and it’s a great way to support a positive movement in our community. Contact Hope in Shadows for more information.

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