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What Is a Wristband Fundraiser?

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  • Written By: John Lister
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 04 September 2016
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A wristband fundraiser is a way for charities to raise money by selling wristbands. It's usually seen as an effective method because it doesn't just raise cash but also raises awareness of a cause. Usually a wristband fundraiser will involve a specific design or color associated with a cause.

Though the concept of a wristband fundraiser appears to date back to at least the 1980s, it came to prominence in May 2004. The Lance Armstrong Foundation launched a yellow wristband marked with the LIVESTRONG® logo. It caught attention when a variety of celebrities and public figures wore it, and an estimated 80 million have been sold.

Wristband fundraisers can be a particularly effective method from an economic standpoint. For the charity, they are usually relatively cheap to produce or buy, meaning a sale price of as little as a dollar will raise a lot of money. People buying the wristband will not necessarily be concerned that there is a high mark-up: if anything the pricing allows them to donate an affordable amount while still feeling they have received something in return.

A charity wristband is most commonly made of silicone gel. This material has several advantages: it is flexible, meaning it can adjust to fit different sized wrists; it is relatively sturdy, meaning it won't fall apart; and it is comfortable to wear with little irritation. This compares to less popular materials used in some wristbands such as ribbon.

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Usually the color and/or design of a wristband is relevant to the charity. For example, the LIVESTRONG® wristband was yellow, the color worn by the race leader in Lance Armstrong's sport of cycling. Other examples include pink for beast cancer and red for AIDS, both of which were already established in awareness ribbons and other awareness items.

Arguably the best known wristband fundraiser involves the white band used by the Global Call to Action Against Poverty. It has been adapted several times for specific events and days such as the Make Poverty History® campaign in 2005. Unlike some charity wristbands, the white band is arguably used more as an awareness symbol than a fundraiser, with campaigners encouraging people in poorer countries to make their own wristband rather than buy one.

There have been long-running stories claiming that children have adapted the concept of charity wristbands not just as a fashion item, but as a sexual indicator. Repeated stories claim wearing a particular color displays a willingness to engage in particular types of sexual activity. There is little if any hard evidence that this is the case and it appears to largely be an urban legend.

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