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Sevenly: Wearing your heart on your sleeve

To the average citizen, finding the “right” charity and making a donation is a decidedly unglamorous task. In the face of an endless plethora of organizations, the time and effort it takes to donate a small amount to a cause might even seem to outweigh the benefits. How to streamline the search so that people are painlessly exposed to as many charities as possible? Tougher yet, how to make the donation process more appealing, more accessible–or maybe even more fashionable?

Dale Partridge and Aaron Chavez, two Orange County-based entrepeneurs, sought to tackle this “charity dilemma” in 2011. Citing lack of awareness, lack of funding, and lack of following as the three main reasons why thousands of charities fail, they wanted to find a better way to reconcile consumer interests with deserving campaigns. Their solution? Sevenly.org, an online clothing store that seeks to “raise capital and awareness for the world’s greatest causes.” By partnering with a different charity every week, Sevenly uses nearly 30% of its proceeds to benefit a host of campaigns, all while exposing its millions of visitors and customers to causes they might not otherwise be familiar with.

The front page of Sevenly is almost indistinguishable from the website of a stylish, youth-oriented boutique. Models brandish fitted, colorful shirts replete with eye-catching typography and artistic graphics, a far cry from the “tackiness” people have come to associate with charity awareness. Yet, these fashionable designs and pithy mottos carry a deeper meaning: a trendy “Love the Lost” shirt advocates the care and support of foster children, a kaleidoscopic “I’ll Fight for Beauty” sweater alludes to funding mammograms for underprivileged women, and a poetic illustration of a bird in flight accompanies a shirt proclaiming “Live Life”—an artistic response to China’s One-Child policy. Sevenly’s team of graphic designers unveils fresh illustrations every week, designing each batch of shirts to correspond with a new cause. This marriage of fashion and global awareness explains Sevenly’s popularity in social media: with roughly 126,000 “Likes” on Facebook and over 4 million shares on the Internet since 2011, it’s a good guess that Sevenly’s campaign reaches not only “traditional” charity donors but also fashion-conscious, tech-savvy youth.

Best of all, Sevenly donates $7 to its weekly charity for every item purchased on its website (and sometimes even double that amount, depending on the occasion). Weekly goal tickers measure the amount of donations received and the target total for the entire week, letting consumers see exactly how much progress is being made towards a cause. Visitors can also learn more about the charities they’re supporting with the help of interactive videos and links to partner websites. A weekly “Story behind the art” column even explains the creative process of the Sevenly designers, explaining how they used the core values of their sponsored charity to make the graphic tees featured on the front page.

At its core, Sevenly is a website dedicated to highlighting and funding organizations all over the world. By using fashionable designs and an innovative social media platform to highlight its partner causes, Sevenly is able to reach millions of young and old donors—a stylish and simple way to bring charity into mainstream culture.

Visit Sevenly.org here.

See past T-shirt campaigns and causes here.

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