Dress-Down/Up fundraisers have probably been around for as long as Casual Days or Casual Fridays have been a trend in North America.
Let’s face it: employees love to escape the corporate dress code and swap their suits and skirts for comfy sweaters, jeans and sneakers. Enterprising do-gooders and nonprofits surmised that employees loved it so much they would be happy to part with a few dollars to dress-down. They were right and a fundraiser was born!
Today, dress-down/up fundraisers are a well known – if not a well worn – part of corporate America. Let’s explore how we can update the style of these fundraisers to fit the needs and practices of a new style-conscious generation.
The most common model for a dress-down day is a simple casual day in exchange for a donation. However, nonprofits and businesses have adopted as many variations as there are clothes to wear in the workplace.
The granddaddy of casual days is Lee’s National Denim Day to support the American Cancer Society. For five dollars, employees can wear their jeans to work. Since inception, National Denim Day has raised $88 million.
Employees can wear jeans for other causes. The organization that has supported American troops since 1941, the USO, has Jeans for GI days.
The Junior Achievement of Chicago encourages employees to sign up for casual days right on the company website. Not only can you pick the day, but you can pay for several months in advance and save money!
On National Red Day, supporters of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women can donate and wear their favorite red garment. AHA encourages donors to upload their show of red to the nonprofit’s Facebook page.
Boston’s Jimmy Fund, the fundraising arm of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, has it’s own red fundraiser, but the color is found in the hats and shirts of the Boston Red Sox, which employees can wear on opening day when they donate five dollars. Dress for Sox-cess is a perfect fundraiser for Boston’s baseball diehards – or for anyone who wants to wear a Red Sox jersey instead of a suit jacket.
Why stop at clothes? TOMS Shoes is asking company partners to wear nothing at all for charity – at least on their feet. One Day Without Shoes encourages people to go shoe-less to show their support for shoe donations and the end of Hookworm, a soil transmitted parasite that worldwide that affects twice as many lives in the United States.
Wearing different shoes is also an option. The National Association of Basketball Coaches and more than 4,000 college basketball coaches lace up to fight cancer during Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers Weekend. Instead of suits with shoes, coaches match slacks with pink sneakers to support the American Cancer society.
Casual days for a cause are a fun, easy, creative way for companies to raise money for their favorite charities. The clothes you wear are a great way to show how much you care.