High Impact Volunteer Apparel & Giveaway Ideas

10 Ideas to Help Create High Impact Volunteer Event Giveaways

At your next volunteer “service” day, t-shirts and other giveaway items (e.g. key chains, bracelets, stickers) will be presented to volunteers to recognize their participation.  For many volunteers, this will be the only keepsake they receive. All too often this memento will end up hidden inside a drawer or a laundry basket.  This may be due to sub-standard art or product design.

What if you could change how volunteers perceive these items without additional cost to your organization?

Event giveaways are a low cost complement to your standard marketing materials (e.g. brochures, direct mailers). By using a little imagination you can create products that will not only be appreciated but also used on a regular basis.  The next time you are ready to order event giveaways consider these few suggestions:

  1. Spruce up your existing logo or design.  A good printer will treat this request as an opportunity to showcase their talent.
  2. Come up with some new giveaway ideas.  We all appreciate a great t-shirt, but receiving the same item year after year can get a little boring.
  3. Make sure your items are on brand and can be used on a regular basis.  A leaky, non-biodegradable water bottle is NOT a good product for thirsty Earth Day volunteers!
  4. Package low cost items together and make it look like a gift.
  5. Attach hangtags or stickers.  Hangtags are another opportunity to spread your message.
  6. Print with water base or fashion base inks.  Water base ink ensures your logos won’t feel “plastiky”.  Combined with hangtags or stickers, your giveaway item will possess a “retail” look and feel.
  7. Use a vendor that can source all of your items. Every year you may be going to multiple vendors: one for t-shirts, another for promotional products, and yet another for printed brochures.  This costs your organization time and money!!
  8. Use a ring spun cotton t-shirt like the Tultex 0202PC instead of a regular cotton t-shirt.  It will be worth the extra 50 cents!
  9. Take advantage of fashion forward printing techniques like tone on tone or distressed prints that require only one color.
  10. Encourage your volunteers to send pics via Social Media and solicit feedback as to how you might improve your products for next year.

Below are photos of products that Social Imprints created to meet the specific needs of our clients.  Please give us a call at 415-956-0269 or visit socialimprints.com  the next time you’d like help creating event giveaways with that extra special “wow” factor.



Water-Based Inks

The two most common questions I have heard over the last 15 years are 1) Why do my t-shirts feel like someone poured concrete on them and 2) How do I get the logo’s on my t-shirt to feel soft like the ones at Hot Topic or Urban Outfitters?

Here is the deal. Most t-shirts are printed with several coats of PVC based plastisol inks that make your t-shirt feel bulletproof and “plasticy”. To insure that your t-shirt has a nice soft feel you must request water based inks and discharge printing.  Water-based/discharge inks penetrate the fabric and become part of the shirt instead of lying on top of the shirt creating a thick “plasticy” feel. Water based inks will give your apparel a “retail” look and feel that will amaze your volunteers, employees or customers.

Keep in mind that not all t-shirt orders are suited to using water-based/discharge inks. Your printer should be able to quickly assess whether discharge printing or water-based inks will work for your order.

Ok…I bet you are rolling your eyes and thinking that using discharge printing and water based inks is going to cost me an arm and a leg. The truth of the matter is that for some orders it may be a bit more expensive whereas for other orders it may actually be cheaper.  It really depends on the quantity of shirts you order, the color t-shirt you choose, and the design you want printed on the shirts.

Give me a call to discuss further. I’m always glad to help.

Kevin McCracken

COO/Social Imprints



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  1. Posted July 11, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    this blog should someone print out and installed on every theatre in london

  2. Posted July 24, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Hey can I get you designers contact info? This is an awesome skin.

  3. Posted July 24, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Nice. was wonder about this.

  4. Posted July 24, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    Nice. was wonder about this.

  5. Posted July 24, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    lol… that is an awesome idea! :D

    • kyle
      Posted August 5, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Meredith! Let us know if we can ever give you a hand with any projects.

  6. Posted July 26, 2011 at 4:24 am | Permalink

    Attractive web log! May possibly feed very good favorable and even bigger a horizon in your web log. Bless you for one’s share and even writing.

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