Boot Campaign – A Business That Sells Combat Boots

For those that haven’t heard of “Boot Campaign“:

The Boot Campaign is a grassroots initiative started by 5 women from Texas known as the Boot Girls. They provide an easy and tangible way for Americans to show support of our troops (both past and present) that’s practical and directly benefits our military. Proceeds from boot sales are donated to partner charities, who assist returning veterans dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and varying degrees of physical injuries.

Sounds great right? That’s what I thought, before I looked further into it.

First of all they talk a lot about “Partner Charities” … which made me think that they must be for profit. I searched the IRS charity database for anything “Boot Campaign” related and came up with nothing. That was strike #1 for me.

The boots are listed for $130 in their online store… which I assumed was being donated directly to veterans.  Wrong… Here’s the break down as listed on the “Shop” portion of the website:

$80 to produce the custom branded boot. According to the FAQ section of their website, the boots are manufactured in the U.S. by ALTAMA Footwear.  I know that manufacturing in the U.S. is a heck of a lot more costly then overseas, but still… $80?  That doesn’t sound right on any sort of quantity order, so i’m calling bullshit on that price.

$25 of your purchase price covers cost for the website, marketing materials, and merchandise. *Poof* there goes another 20% of the money you gave them.

That leaves $25, which Boot Campaign claims is going directly to charity.  Seeing as they are not an actual charity, they have to pay tax… My guess though, is that since the Boot Campaign is passing the money on to actual charities they get a tax receipt for their donation.

$25 / $130 = 19.2%

19.2% of your money goes to helping veterans. Sure you got a pair of American made boots out of it, so if you feel good about that breakdown then go for it.

Their goal is to sell one million boots.  It’ doesn’t specify a time frame, but at their current rake of $25 minimum per boot, that is $25,000,000 alone that they will collect for “the website, marketing materials and merchandise”. Superbowl commercials in the future maybe?

I have a background in marketing, so i’m no stranger to the idea of giving people something tangible so they remember your brand, and tell others about it.  The truth is, that subdued logo doesn’t exactly jump out at you, and the boots are pretty plain looking so chances are no one will even ask about them, unless you go out of your way to wear them out of context with a suit or to church or something.

Since it’s not that obvious on the website, I just hope people are aware that by buying a pair of boots from Boot Campaign, they are basically getting a pair of boots and doing a small amount of good.

I’m a big advocate of supporting veterans, but in my opinion if you want to donate money, donate it directly to the veteran charity of your choice.  If you want boots, buy boots from somewhere else.

What do you guys think about this? Let me know in the comments.

15 COMMENTS

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Marc January 31, 2011 at 01:48 am

I’m with you.. if you want boots buy boots, if you want to donate then donate directly.

It seems like that small blurb at the store entry page is the only place the costs are mentioned. I bet a lot of people don’t even catch that unless they are looking for it like you did.

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Paranoid in Montana January 31, 2011 at 07:36 am

The boot price seems OK at retail levels. It’s half what I spend on my work boots and they are made in China. That said, these don’t cut it as work boots because they aren’t ANSI steel toe.

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Jesse N January 31, 2011 at 10:17 am

One thing I’ve learned working in a retail environment, is that people don’t always want to donate money for the good of it, the do it because they want people to KNOW that they did it, or that they get charity branded products that are trendy and cool/celebs wear them. How many Livestrong bracelets do you see daily? What percentage of those people would have just given a dollar toward testicular cancer without getting a bracelet? Pink Ribbon Northface jackets absolutely flew off the shelves this year, and I doubt it was because consumers had no other way to donate toward breast cancer. Companies make tons of profit from these “charity” products ever year, which fundamentally I’m opposed to. However, I feel these types of products do raise more money for causes than they would typically get with just straight donations.

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ML Joey February 18, 2011 at 02:00 pm

I agree. People like others to know what they are donating to. Look at it this way. You are keeping Americans working because the boots are made here and you are giving some money to a good cause. The 25.00 fee for website and work is okay too. They spend it on dinners, keeping restaurants and workers in work, and on other things which may contribute to our slumping economy. We need to change our thought process and encourage lots of this sort of activity…

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Matt January 31, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Hoping Marcus Luttrell is that big guy endorsing this sham.

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Admin (Mike) January 31, 2011 at 01:04 pm

Yep, It is Marcus Luttrell.

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JetLag January 31, 2011 at 01:11 pm

“Charity” type organizations that take a big cut of the money is nothing new. Some are more open about it though, and some are less.

I agree with you that the $80 price they say that they are paying for boots sounds too high if they are moving the quantities they claim they are. Another thing that crossed my mind is that just because this boot is “made in the USA” the company that makes them still probably gets all their textiles and other components from overseas.

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Skip January 31, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Thanks for heads up Bro.
This realy pissed me off as I sent a chunk of change their way as a straight donation.

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Admin (Mike) January 31, 2011 at 11:12 pm

No problem. You should email and ask them how much of your money went directly to the charities, considering in your case you didn’t even expect a pair (or pairs) of boots.

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JoeyMuffins February 2, 2011 at 01:33 am

I’m going to blow the mind of a guy at work with this post. He recently was talking about how great he thought the Boot Campaign was.

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Weegee February 18, 2011 at 03:20 pm

I agree that many paople won’t give a dime without getting something in return.
So if one has to entice them by offering a pair of “comabt boots” to squeezw a few bucks out of them for a good caise, I’m for it. They get something they want and the troops get a few bucks as well.
There are those who will find fault with charitable efforts, no matter how noble the effort is.
Personnally, I think the concept is brilliant and the who’s who that are supporting the effort tell me it’s o,k,

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Scott Karch March 14, 2011 at 09:40 pm

The REAL Boots Campaign: It doesn’t cost a dime!
About 4 years ago I began work on a “charity” to honor those who serve in our military. Just last week (after a lot of time and saving $) I finally have the site operational. It’s http://www.stepstohonor.com
The idea is that you DON’T BUY new boots, you (as a civilian) are paired with a member of our armed forces based on your shoe size automatically by the site. When that happens, you arrange to receive a pair of this service person’s boots. You then wear them Everywhere for one week and a name tag that reads “ask me about my boots”. When asked, you give the story of the person serving our country, show (from their profile print out) pictures of them and the family they had to leave behind to serve. The idea is to HONOR those who serve and give them a very personalized Thank you. Please visit the site to learn more. And just to reiterate, its FREE!
I have my own crew of celebrity supporters and will be authorizing the press release soon (just waiting on my “how to” video to post this week).

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Mickey Figueroa April 1, 2011 at 09:42 am

You hit the nail on the head. 19.2% going to the troops is insane. Under Charity Navigator, it would be rated as a “F”. Donating to a military charity is very honorable, but I think people should do their homework first. A few years ago, I also created a military charity fundraiser on behalf of Fisher House. March in the Boots of our Troops, http://www.marchinthebootsofourtroops.com, is a walk where participants wear their own boots to “experience” what a soldier goes through everyday. We do not keep any of the money raised. We rely on volunteers and sponsors to run the walk. About 99.9% of ther money raised goes to an A+ rated military charity. We are in the process of organizing another walk this November 2011 at the Bank Atlantic Center with the Florida Panthers Hockey team in South Florida.

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NC April 29, 2014 at 03:13 pm

I was pretty annoyed when I first read this but see it was in 2011 and hope they did not have the information out they do now. Being in the military it bugs me that people type this stuff without the facts. Here is a link which shows there breakdown: http://www.bootcampaign.com/donate/. Furthermore, I have there tax exempt charity status letter signed by the IRS infront of me as we speak. Hope this clears up your misinformation.

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