Finalist 2021

Fundraising with Purpose

A Fitting Connection

A Fitting Connection's Fundraising with Purpose program reduces textile waste, is purposeful in thought, design, and action.

A Fitting Connection is addressing the epic textile waste problem, by empowering primary and high school students with a hands-on program that extends their learning past the classroom into real-world problems and solutions.

They help students see textile waste as a resource and facilitate opportunities for them to develop, create and sell new products made from textile waste.

The students go on to sell the products to raise funds for their school (or charity) which also creates conversation within the wider community about textile waste and the importance of being purposeful in purchasing and deposing habits.

Design Brief

Almost 14,000 kilograms of textiles is being sent to landfill every ten minutes in Australia. Fast fashion plays a huge role in this however it's a complex problem that needs us all as a society to come together to reduce and design out textile waste.

We need our society to first learn the complexity, of the issue in an easy and digestible manner with a positive outcome that benefits and solves more than just the textile waste problem so that solution resonates and impacts more people within our society.

Achieving this will inspire them to take what they have learned and become more purposeful with their purchasing and deposing habits.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

We first needed to

  1. Identify the members of the community that are more likely to adopt and action change
  2. Identify matters other than textile waste that resonates or affects early changemakers
  3. Educate early changemakers about fast fashion and clothing's true value
  4. Inspire early changemakers to create awareness and action within the community
  5. Reduce textile waste

We identified that students are great early adopters as they have a habit of taking what they learn at school, sharing it with their parents, and making changes within their home. Parents, family, and friends generally always get behind children's education and passions.

Schools are always fundraising, whether it's for the school or for a charity that they adopt. Fundraisers are not always sustainable or very innovative and schools find there is more engagement when the students are involved in the fundraising efforts.

We know the best way to understand a problem and create change is to experience it. Therefore we developed a program where we first educate the students about fast fashion and textile waste.

We then facilitate the students to identify products that their community uses or needs which could be made from textile waste as well as identifying key times when these items can be sold. We work with the students to develop prototypes and organise the textile waste needed. We engage the support of volunteer sewers to keep costs down so that the product's price points are viable and fundraising efforts are maximised.

We conducted pre-evaluations and found that many students didn't understand fast fashion the connection to textile waste and often didn't buy secondhand or repair their clothing. However, in our post-evaluations, we found that students were more informed and indicated they would be more willing to purchase secondhand and repair or repurpose their clothing.

Design Excellence

The program has been designed to help solve the textile waste problem, by tackling one of the causes; the low perceived value on clothing. But the solution solves much more than just textile waste and how clothing is valued.

For people to start to understand this they need to experience it in some way. The easiest way to do this is for them to understand and experience the process of identifying a need, developing a product, and seeing how it's produced firsthand. When they experience firsthand how much thought and effort goes into producing a product they naturally start to appreciate the value of products.

By incorporating and solving a problem that the students associate or are more familiar with, they are more engaged with the process and solution and more likely to adopt their learnings and implement the learnings within their life.

In the development of the program, we also incorporated a sector of the community that is largely unseen and has been greatly affected by the pandemic, our volunteer workforce. Volunteers love what they do for a variety of reasons however the main one is to connect with like-minded people. For many, this has been difficult or impossible over lockdowns.

Our program offers people with sewing skills (which is a dying skill) to connect not only with like-minded people but with youth which often brings a level of euphoria. By working and supporting the youth the volunteers feel needed and valued.

Our program makes it easier for schools to roll out a program where the students learn and tackle real-life problems. It sets a benchmark for service design as we are looking at the textile waste problem in a holistic manner and creating opportunities for students and the community to learn and create change by immersion.

Design Innovation

The program challenges our students and community to adjust their perceived value of clothing by highlighting how and why textile waste is a problem, asking them to see textile waste as a resource and become more purposeful. In a world-first, we are providing schools an opportunity to create their own purpose-designed products to sell to raise money for their school or adopted charity.

We are the first to incorporate sustainability, fundraising, social science, and marketing into a program that schools can incorporate into their curriculum, and extended through to further learnings. However, we haven't stopped at just providing schools with a great learning opportunity.

When designing our service it was important that we created our own revenue stream so that we can offer to semi-fund government schools. We do this in two ways

  1. Non-for-profits and charities that are looking for unique and sustainable fundraising ideas are invited to sell our upcycled products. They retain 50% of the proceeds and the remaining 50% is feedback into the program which also includes covering any production costs or recycling unusable textile waste.
  2. Many businesses are looking for ways to offset their carbon footprint. We work with businesses that see the value in the school program and want to work with us to do their bit to reduce textile waste. They have the option of either sponsoring our school program or stocking upcycled products with proceeds being directed back into the program. There are also opportunities for our schools and volunteers to work with fashion labels to upcycle their deadstock into new products. The aim is to make it easy for businesses to be involved in creating community action with a program/service that is like no other.

We are setting a service design benchmark not only for Victoria, Australia but worldwide.

Design Impact

Fundraising with Purpose was designed to be impactful within our society and our environment. It was important to us that we considered the three lenses of innovation and impact (feasible, desirable & viable) not only for the service that we provided but also in the way the program operated.

Our overall goal was to

  • design a service/product that was good for the community/plane
  • use funds and assets to benefit our community
  • and overall do good through our actions/operations

We believe that we usefully achieved these goals and we will provide long-lasting and positive impacts because we have been thoughtful in our approach to the problem we set out to solve, and are unique in the way we are helping solve the problem.

Textile waste on its own is too big of a problem for us to solve. However, Fundraising with Purpose impacts and changes the perceptions of our community. And as a community, we will influence businesses to become more sustainable in their approach and make it easier for the textile sciences and textile recyclers to do what they do (here in Australia and internationally). Textile waste has to become circular so does our approach to the problem.

Our program is raising awareness and appreciation for circular economy in a simple manner making it easy for students and the community to understand and be involved.

We are providing students the opportunity to understand the 'end of life cycle' and experience designing with waste in an environment that leads to a positive and impactful outcome. It's our belief that we creating the up-and-coming Circular Economists that will drive Victoria's design and creative culture.

Other Key Features

Fundraising with Purpose's mission is to not only bring more awareness to circular design and sustainability but to see it embedded in our schooling system. We want to not only see circular and sustainable design practiced within schools but, be a part of implementing it.

We have designed a program that goes beyond ourselves solving the problem. We are giving a voice to everyone that wishes stand with us in making a difference. We are empowering our community to be involved with the solutions and while doing so we are also supporting non-for-profits and charities.

To create a circular economy we must involve and empower our community. For a circular economy to be successful our community/society needs to understand the complexities of circular design and they must want it for themselves and the next generations.

Our program addresses the epic textile waste problem we have by educating the most impressionable people in our community - our young people. Our program starts these conversations in a simple manner and gives students the opportunity to learn and design their own circular designed products.

We are fostering the minds of the future to look beyond what they see and ask them to plant the seed that will redesign their future.

Our program has also been designed to promote and positively affect:

  • Mental health and emotional wellbeing
  • Social connections
  • Develop confidence
  • Promote leadership opportunities

It does this by having the students and the local community work towards a common goal. It provides all involved a sense of belonging and a social connectedness which offers extra meaning and purpose.

The program has been structured to support young people to build on their own ideas and take on responsibilities, which provides leadership opportunities.

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