Empower the next generation with fun and functional promotional ideas.

A place to belong. That’s what all young people want, and youth organizations help fill that need for kids and teens around the world. To solidify the bond and help youth share their stories with others, many organizations rely on promotional products to spread the message and boost the brand.

Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) helps connect young adults with community service opportunities, and promotional products play a vital role in the Kansas City, Missouri-based group’s mission, says Lacey Helmig, communications and media coordinator.

“Our most important product is t-shirts,” says Helmig. “We print thousands of shirts each year, including those that we give out to all youth who volunteer with our summer service-learning programs. At the national level, we offer our 40-plus YVC Affiliates (located in communities throughout the U.S. and Canada) the opportunity to buy t-shirts through us twice a year. Many local programs also print their own materials locally so that they can accommodate their host organization’s brand in addition to the YVC brand.”

YVC also seizes opportunities to promote its brand and mission through pop-up stores and giveaways at trade shows and conferences. “We hold an annual summit each fall where we gather youth and staff representatives from throughout the U.S. and Canada for a weekend of learning and sharing ideas,” says Helmig. “We set up  a YVC Store at this event where we offer attendees the chance to purchase t-shirts, hoodies, polos and other products like mugs, water bottles, bumper stickers, temporary tattoos, etc. This is a great way for us to get the YVC logo out there while also bringing in a little income.”

Additionally, when YVC exhibits at trade conferences, staff bring along items such as pens, stickers and notepads to draw attendees to the group’s booth.

Michael Kogutt, MAS, has worked with Boy Scouts of America and other youth organizations, and says many of the promotional items purchased are for use by the organization itself as well as gifts for donors. “They like anything that can be used for the outdoors,” says Kogutt, director of sales-promotional products for Outdoor Cap Co. “Watertight storage cases to wear, water bottles, sportswear—caps, too, are huge with the youth market.”

Kogutt says youth organizations that sell branded merchandise to participants and supporters want a good value for their money. He cites National Football League branded knit caps, which cost roughly $8 to produce but sell for as much as $29.95, as an example. “For fundraising efforts that’s a good value,” he says. “Those are the kind of margins you want to have.”

To help groups select the right products, Kogutt says consultants need to understand what they’re trying to accomplish. “Find out what a big win would look like with promotional products.”

Real World Solutions

Case studies from the industry


A Leg Up On Fundraising

A youth soccer association was looking for a fundraising item to be sold at its annual soccer tournament, and chose custom unisex socks with a full-color imprint on two sides. The socks were a fun souvenir for tournament players and fans, as well as a significant source of revenue for the association. The group plans to make the socks an annual item at its tournament.

Source: Beacon Promotions


Giving Students A Boost

Texas Wesleyan University’s Upward Bound programs serve economically disadvantaged high school students, many of whom may be the first in their family to pursue a college education.

“These programs provide youth with motivation, preparation and support for college entrance after their high school graduation,” says Brian Jolin, principal of Fort Worth, Texas-based distributor Jolin Promo. “One of their most popular and meaningful programs is a six-week summer instructional component that is designed to simulate a college-going experience that includes daily coursework and other activities.”

To support the program’s efforts, Jolin Promo helped source high-quality, affordable products for students, instructors and administrators. “Of particular importance was finding water bottles that were top-rack dishwasher safe, and lanyards that had safety break-aways,” adds Jolin.

Additionally, the program selected backpacks and t-shirts to add to its roster of items for the 2016 program. “The products help students build identity and feel like they are part of something bigger,” says Jolin.

Youth organizations will appreciate products like these


Give accomplishments a trendy vibe with this cleverly crafted thumbs-up acrylic award from the Jaffa Collection.

BIC Graphic USA UPIC: BIC www.bicgraphic.com



Show appreciation for supporters of youth programs with a set of gold-trimmed white alabaster bowls. Both beautiful and functional, these hand-washable bowls are food safe and can serve as tea-light holders as well as treat bowls.

Badash Crystal UPIC: Badash www.badashcrystal.com



Cap any summer program with a low-profile, six-panel structured youth cap in lightweight brushed cotton twill. The cap secures with a two-piece Velcro® hook-and-loop fastener fabric strap. Choose from black, khaki, navy, pink, red, royal blue and white. For ages 13 and older.

Cap America, Inc. UPIC: CAPAMRCA www.capamerica.com



Don’t just count the days until school’s out—make them fly by with activities in the Active Kids themed calendar, which provides practical and inventive ideas for indoor and outdoor activities that keep youngsters active, learning and having fun.

TruArt Advertising Calendars UPIC: TRUART www.truart.com



Keep kids warm and cozy in a youth Cosmic fleece contrast pullover hoodie. Choose from eight trendy color combinations and coordinate youth sizes with adult companion styles. Youth sizes run from small to large.

America UPIC: Blanks www.jamericablanks.com



Highlight your organization’s benefits with a fun mini highlighter set. This unique set of five colored highlighters comes packaged in a plastic bubble jar. The markers feature chisel tips and pocket clips on the caps.

Makana Line LLC UPIC: MAKANA www.makanaline.com


Make a joyful noise with a flashing party whistle in assorted colors. The whistle comes with a 32-inch lanyard for portability and wearability, and it can be customized with a logo.

AlightPromos.com UPIC: ALIGHT www.alightpromos.com



Get the message out with a youth messenger bag in royal blue 300 denier nylon with an adjustable shoulder strap. The Velcro® hook-and-loop fastener flap-over reveals a zippered main compartment and an internal organizer. Customize the bag with an imprint on the front pocket in spot-color screen print, full-color transfer or embroidery.

Ad Products Bazaar Inc. UPIC: BAZAAR www.bazaarline.com

Investing In Our Future

In the U.S. alone, nearly 37,000 nonprofit organizations and charities exist to serve the nation’s youth. Many are local chapters of nationwide groups such as 100 Black Men of America, a mentoring organization founded in 1963 in New York that now boasts 110 chapters and more than 10,000 total members.


Boys and Girls Clubs of America is comprised of 1,140 independent organizations in addition to the national entity. BGCA is the largest youth development provider to Native American youth, with 170 clubs on Native lands. In 2015, nearly four million teens and children were served—36 percent are between six and nine years old.


The Y (formerly the YMCA), was founded in London in 1844 and today continues as a nonprofit dedicated to serving families and young children, with a focus on health and fitness, community service and youth development. The Y serves more than 45 million people in 119 nations. In the U.S., a team of nearly 20,000 full-time employees and 600,000 volunteers serves nine million youth and 13 million adults each year.

Helping Hands

Despite the rumors, kids and teens are not entirely self-absorbed. An estimated 15.5 million youth (that’s 55 percent of all youth ages 12 to 18) engage in volunteer activities, while just 29 percent of U.S. adults volunteer.

Here’s a breakdown of their contributions:

1.3 billion hours of community service per year/29 hours per person, per year

39 percent volunteer at least 12 weeks per year

64 percent volunteer primarily through faith-based (34 percent), school-based (18 percent) and youth leadership (12 percent) organizations.

Source: Corporation for National and Community Service

Games Young People Play

Among children ages 6 to 12, more than half played a sport in 2015; the percentage of kids who played on a regular basis hovered around 40 percent. Family income plays a significant role in who plays youth sports—only one in five children from homes with incomes less than $25,000 were active in sports.

Basketball 14.7 percent

Baseball 13.2 percent

Outdoor soccer 8.9 percent

Tackle football 3.3 percent

Gymnastics 2.7 percent

Flag football 2.6 percent

Court volleyball 2.5 percent

Ice hockey 1.1 percent

Track and field 1 percent

Source: The Aspen Institute’s Project Play