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I recently cleaned out my closet and finally rid myself of all the branded shirts I had stashed away from conferences past. I was saving them, I guess, for an inevitable painting party or garden overhaul. I didn't plan to wear them again in public.

I’m sure I’m not the only one with mixed feelings on the subject. Receiving one of these goodies at conference registration is a nice gesture, but one I could just as well do without.

Some associations have a tradition of handing out shirts to all their conference attendees as a benefit of registration. Some love it; they collect them even! Others couldn’t care less.

From the view of the planner, a clothing give-away is a great way to grow excitement and brand the event beyond the conference. But, it’s a logistical challenge to select styles, collect sizes, and take a wild guess at quantities when placing the final order several weeks before registration closes.

Send your registrants on a shopping spree
For a recent global conference, here’s how AMPED found a way to make both registrants and our planners happy AND save our association partner loads of money in the process.

AMPED partnered with Lands’ End, a national clothing retailer to build an online store specifically for its association partner, the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA). In reality, it was the full Lands’ End catalog with a home page and URL branded for CSIA. Both the association and conference logos were preloaded on the site and ready for personalization.

Conference registrants were emailed individual Lands’ End voucher numbers several weeks before the conference and directed to the site. Here they could apply their voucher toward the “official” pre-selected conference shirt (the value of the voucher covered this and shipping) or toward hundreds of other items, paying the difference above the value of the voucher. Registrants could purchase any item they liked as long as it was branded with the association or conference logo. Their purchases were processed by Lands’ End and delivered directly to them before the conference.

Response to this new offering was overwhelmingly positive. Registrants enjoyed the option to personally select a shirt style (no more debates over long-sleeve, short-sleeve, golf, button-down, etc.), and planners could breathe easy knowing that everyone was happy with their styles and sizes.

Unexpectedly, the majority of vouchers were never cashed in. Only 40% of the registrants purchased clothing from the site, saving CSIA thousands of dollars that would have otherwise been spent on unwanted give-a-ways.

AMPED and the CSIA Board considered the initiative a huge success and look forward to doing it again in 2015.

Crowd fund your event attire
Maybe you’re a smaller nonprofit organization that wants to offer shirts for an upcoming event, but at no cost or risk to you. Enter the world of crowd funding. Sites such as teespring.com help you leverage crowd funding and social media to sell your uniquely designed tees. Just design your shirt, name your price, and set a quantity goal and timeline. Then broadcast it via social media. If enough orders come in to reach your goal within the timeframe specified, the shirts get printed and shipped to the buyers. If not, all payments are canceled.

There’s a fund raising opportunity here, too. Price the shirts so that you make a profit above and beyond the base cost. The more you sell, the more you rake in – a great tool for churches and school groups.

 

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