Can Charity Be a Bad Idea?

Last October I blogged about a new company in Jacksonville, Fla., that added a new twist to the old adage of giving someone the shirt off your back . . . Jason Sadler, the founder of, created a public relations venture by putting shirts bearing an organization’s message or logo on his back and wearing them around town for the day. Now, a year later, it seems he’s in trouble for actually giving the shirt off his back.

Wanting to find a way to use the leftover t-shirts his company had created, Sadler came up with the idea of the 1 Million Shirts campaign. He teamed with HELP International and to send shirts to orphanages in Uganda and Kenya.

Not long after the program got underway, the unexpected backlash began. Sadler was labeled a “do gooder” who had no experience with or concept of foreign aid and was scorned for interfering in African economies where many citizens make a meager living selling used clothing. The program ignited a full-blown controversy about whether in-kind donations are ever of any help, with articles appearing in Time, the Huffington Post and

In the wake of the controversy, Sadler has cancelled the program. But like a true entrepreneur who is undeterred by mistakes and roadblocks, Sadler now has plans to donate the shirts to disaster relief agencies.

Bottom line? Just as you’re advised to develop a plan and do the research on every other aspect of your business, it appears that advice extends to your charitable endeavors as well.


About Smart Companies Thinking Bigger®

Kelly Scanlon is the owner and publisher of Thinking Bigger Business Media. She recently finished a term on the national board of directors of the National Association of Women Business Owners, and was the national chair from 2010-2011. An advocate for small business owners, Kelly sits on numerous boards and committees to advocate on behalf of small business owners. She has won several awards for her advocacy. Among them are the 2011 United Nations NGO Positive Peace Award on behalf of Kansas City area small business owners, the U.S. Small Business Administration's Region VII Women's Business Champion of the Year in 2009, and the Women in Business Advocate of the Year from the State of Kansas in 2006. In 2002, she won the SBA's Region VII Small Business Journalist of the Year Award (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas). Whatever your business stage—aspiring, startup, established, mature—Thinking Bigger Business Media has the resources you need to grow to the next level. We are a resource organization dedicated to providing the strategic, "how-to" information small business owners need to become more productive and more profitable. We also provide information that helps owners connect with resources within the business community that can help them grow. We deliver that information through a variety of media products and other channels easily accessible to business owners.
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