fraternity business

Imagine this: You are in your bed sleeping. You suddenly feel the sun beaming through your eyelids. You open them slowly, yawn, and reach for your phone half asleep. The number “2” shows up next to your mail app.


You open and see the first email. “Reminder! Payment Due for your American Express.” You think, “shit” and move to the next one. “You’ve Made a Sale! “

Excited, you wake up a little more, open the email, and read what it says. “You have sold a total of 2 items!” You made money while you were sleeping!

Wouldn’t that be nice? That is what it can be like when you start a business for a fraternity fundraiser.

Starting your own business as a fraternity fundraiser

It sounds like a daunting task, and it can be, but the benefits will be huge – for yourself and for your fraternity. Starting a fraternity business will yield great results for a fundraising activity that involves many people to run properly.

It doesn’t have to be very complex or officially registered with your state gov; in fact, I’m going to detail the one I started in my chapter that is very simple and something your chapter might do already, but scaled and taken more seriously.

But first, the benefits

  • It will raise money for your chapter.
  • It may be a fundraiser that your brothers WANT to do.
  • Offers more value than traditional fundraisers… like car washes.
  • You will learn how to work with people and collaborate.
  • You will learn how to start a simple business that makes money.
  • It will also allow you and your brothers to learn and practice business operations, marketing, design, and setting up a store online.
  • Through hard work and a common goal, it will bring your fraternity together.
  • It brings prestige to your fraternity.

My chapter’s business

Basically, we sell T-shirts, but good ones. Nearly every fraternity I have encountered makes T-shirts for whatever reason and so did we. While we were discussing some financial problems in my chapter, I proposed to make 100 of our shirts and sell them for a profit to other chapters in the area.

I called a few printers and calculated our profit margin and discovered we could make a killing if we sold them all at full price – $14.95. After I presented my findings and calculations, my chapter voted in favor of it and now we have a business as a fraternity fundraiser.

Here’s how it works

You need a target market, a good product, a way for people to buy your product, and a plan to market it to them.

Our target market for our shirts was all our national fraternity brothers in other chapters across the country. We made shirts that catered to everyone, not just my chapter. We haven’t sold all of them yet, but we sold enough to have a healthy profit and assurance to do it again.

What made our shirts unique from what other chapters were making, was our design and shirt quality. We used a design that was not blasted with Greek letters coupled with a really nice quality shirt blank. This is because we found people are more likely to buy fraternity shirts that they WANT to wear, even outside of fraternity events.

We used Facebook mainly to advertise our product. We took really nice photos and made magazine quality advertisements for them, which we shared with brothers from other chapters. Here is an example:

We brought all our stock to a regional conference and we made an absolute killing there. We sold over 50 shirts, blasting through our break-even point to $350 in profit in one weekend.

You can do it, too!

Write up a short business plan (you can even make it a contest), talk to some of your brothers about it for ideas, and ask what they think about undertaking such a project for a fraternity fundraiser.

Most importantly, calculate the total cost of each shirt, find a good price (I recommend $14.95 for T-shirts), calculate the break even point, and finally the total profit potential. I found when showing my chapter these numbers, they were all on board.

Delegating and using a team effectively is key to not overloading or burdening yourself with all the work. If done right, it can be a breeze and will just get easier as time goes on.

Also be sure to take advantage of your alumni or faculty members who have experience in starting a business.

What’s in it for me?

You get to learn how to start a real business!

You get to learn how to keep one running, how to market products to people, how to set up an online store, and more! The best part is you don’t even have to use your own money for anything so although there is some risk to your fraternity’s funds, there is no personal risk.

You are going to make those shirts anyway, right? Might as well make more of ’em and sell more of ’em.

This article is contributed by Reggie Paquette, creator of a new fraternity site, Fraternity HQ. Reggie is a brother of Delta Sigma Pi and a senior at Cal State University, Fullerton studying Entrepreneurship. When he’s not working on his own online marketing company, he is losing horribly in Fifa 13. Follow him on Twitter: @reggiepaq






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2 thoughts on “Creating a Fraternity Business: A Fraternity Fundraising Alternative

  1. There’s tax implications to business income not related to your tax-exempt purpose. Not that I think the IRS cares or would notice an inaccurate 990ez. Just don’t get too crazy. Making extra shirts to sell to other chapters/members is probably fine. Doing a chapter fundraiser is okay. Operating an actual business venture is sketchy.

    That said, certainly you learn a ton about operating a business from running a fraternity.

    • Hey Dennis,

      Absolutely. There’s definitely a limit and some grey area about tax implications; however, like you said, it’s most likely fine. Unless a chapter plans to take it to a $500.00/mo fundraiser, I would be completely okay with it. If a chapter succeeds to more than this amount or if one feels obligated to, talk to a tax professional, an alumni brother, or faculty brother for advice on what to do.

      And yes, you learn a ton in the process :]

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