TACOMA, Washington — Project Break the Cycle, created in 2016, fondly refers to themselves as a “non-profit for non-profits.” Built on a knack for fashion, ties to the Middle East and frustration with nonprofit transparency, this organization raises money through retail clothing sales and corporate matching programs which are then donated to other nonprofits. This new business model outsources fundraising to the Project so chosen aid organizations have more time to focus on efficient distribution. Consequently, Project Break the Cycle is able to monitor revenue streams and guarantee ethical sourcing.
What does Project Break the Cycle do?
More than making on-the-ground nonprofits less stressed about money, this nonprofit targets untapped donor markets. Artists, as employees of the organization or volunteers, put their design skills to use in creating t-shirts, long sleeves, hoodies, and more. Designs center on inclusive and peaceful motifs. The resulting products are sold in the normal retail market on their website. In fact, some consumers might not even realize they “donated” and instead see them as another fashion retailer.
This quarter, the fashion proceeds go towards the Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Fund. However, every three months, the featured nonprofit switches. Cycling every quarter allows more publicity for small nonprofits and lesser-known organizations. Last quarter, the organization featured the Orphan Children Scholarship Fund which raised $16,650, which was $6,650 over their goal. The goal for this quarter is $17,500.
Typical Donation Process
- A consumer sees any of the fashion items advertised on a variety of social media platforms.
- Deciding to buy the product, the consumer purchases a t-shirt, long sleeve, or hoodie on the official website.
- The organization corresponds with the consumer on order specs such as size and color.
- Then they collect the purchase revenue, spend a fraction on creating the item itself and donate the rest of the money to the Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Fund.
- The Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Fund then uses funds for sustainable food relief and agriculture. This varies from livestock, farming tools, to infrastructure.
- Commonly, one fashion item will fund one egg-laying hen or milk-producing goat. Yemeni aid recipients receive the specific aid item and can use it for years to come.
However, as a burgeoning company, clothing sales do not yet produce large profits. So, in addition to creating unique fashion items, Project Break the Cycle gets corporate sponsorships. Each corporate sponsor participates in a matching program. Sponsors include Johnson & Johnson, Amazon and Google. These sponsors, rather than matching retail sales, actually match employee donations by up to 4x. So, if an employee donates $100, Google would give $400 or more. By having employee donation matching, the organization ensures aid in times of less retail sales.
Breaking the traditional non-profit mold, Project Break the Cycle shows charity organizations can also lead the front in business model development. Employees at the Project know helping the world’s poor can come in many forms.
– Rory Davis