In the past week I’ve learned a lot of things. One of those things that has become crystal clear is that I offended some people with the messaging on the website. This was 100% never my intention and I take full blame and have apologized for it, and am apologizing again publicly. I haven’t immediately changed the messaging because I don’t just want to strip the site bare of content, I want to get it right. The one thing that will change as soon as possible is the tagline on the main image of the website from “Help us send one million t-shirts to the people of Africa.” to “Help us reach our goal of one million t-shirts donated.” The image itself may change as well if that has been deemed offensive.
1MillionShirts is here to stay. It is not going anywhere and negativity, cynicism and criticism will not stop what we are trying to do. From the good criticism and thoughtfulness of the right people (meet: @tmsruge & mjamme) we are learning that what we were trying to do was wrong. While on the surface it may look like there are people in villages/countries in Africa that could use clothing, there is a bigger issue and we would have done more harm than good by simply donating 1,000,000 t-shirts.
One thing I personally want to do with this project is to help educate people who were/are in the same position I was/am. There isn’t a clear resource that explains the ins and outs of what people in other countries around the world need. I’m not saying I’m going to create that, what I am going to try to do is educate people through this website as I continue to learn.
The important item to note about 1MillionShirts is that we are going to use t-shirts as the vehicle to help sustainable efforts in specific areas that the charities we choose to work with are involved in. Plain and simple, the money that you would have or are going to donate with your t-shirt(s) will no longer be paying for expensive/inefficient shipping costs to send t-shirts anywhere. That money will now be going to help people build wells, schools, homes, etc. The specific places and regions where this will be happening will be defined shortly and we want to make sure we get it right this time and don’t generalize anything.
So what will happen with the 1,000,000 t-shirts that get donated? We haven’t made the ultimate decision yet. The one thing we do know is that we’ll be storing the t-shirts for disaster relief when clothing is needed as an ancillary item. We’ll also be talking to homeless shelters across the US and looking to partner with organizations who can use second hand t-shirts to turn a profit and that money then goes back to our mission. For the time being, yes, you can still donate t-shirts and feel good that they will be making a positive impact.
I was hesitant to write this blog post at all without concrete answers, but I wanted to get something out there to keep up with the other blog posts being written about 1MillionShirts. There are 50+ posts on 1MillionShirts now, feel free to try to get caught up if you have a few hours.
I’m hoping we have a more clearly defined mission by the of this week and can refocus on our energies in the proper direction. Thank you everyone for your continued support and I know that we’ll turn this project into something positive and great. We don’t just have good intentions, we have the determination and desire to make a difference by doing.