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A legacy of living generously: The story behind the T-shirt

With more than 13 million shirts in circulation, Thrivent clients share their passion for making a difference.

You’ve likely seen them at the store, gym, park or a church or volunteer event. Though the T-shirt color may vary, the message does not: Live Generously. Two simple but powerful words.

And while they are designed to be soft and comfortable, the shirts are more than a fashion statement. They feature words to live by.

What are the Live Generously T-shirts?

The T-shirts are distributed by Thrivent, a not-for-profit Fortune 500 financial services organization that's committed to uplifting communities and inspiring generosity in others. Thrivent strives to help clients build their financial futures with clarity and confidence so they can make the most of all they’ve been given.

The Live Generously T-shirts are provided as part of Thrivent’s membership program, Thrivent Action Teams, and are worn by clients and friends when volunteering for a fundraiser, service activity or educational event. As of 2023, there are 13 million Live Generously shirts in circulation—that's equivalent to outfitting all of New York City and Los Angeles.

Considering faith, generosity and community are key differentiators for Thrivent clients, they wholeheartedly stand behind the message of the shirts. One Thrivent client says, “I love the T-shirts. When I wear my shirt, I get comments and it gives me the opportunity to share about Thrivent and, in turn, my faith.”

What’s the meaning behind the shirts?

The Live Generously message is twofold: A mantra for the volunteers who wear them, and a message of encouragement to others.

The statement resonates with young and old from coast to coast. It stands out among many competing messages in this day—which was the goal when the shirts were first designed in 2014.

Emily Hendren, manager of the Thrivent Action Teams program, recalls the process of determining what phrase would appear on the shirts: When developing the shirt, we asked ourselves: ‘What if we could use these shirts to spark a movement of generosity far beyond the volunteer project? What if we could create something that inspired people to act while also creating recognition for Thrivent?' What we came up with is a statement so bold and meaningful that the shirts quickly became one of the most well-loved items in our closets.”

Long after projects are over and the volunteers have gone home, the shirts live on, continuing to spread their message and connecting volunteers through shared experiences.

“Live Generously” even has its own hashtag. A quick #livegenerously search online turns up stories of people leaving big tips in restaurants, raising awareness for heart disease, providing bead-making kits to hospitalized children, serving meals, collecting school supplies and so much more.

What are Thrivent Action Teams?

Thrivent Actions Teams are volunteer service projects led by Thrivent clients with membership. They lead more than 100,000 projects each year. And the generosity isn’t stopping anytime soon with more than 160,000 Thrivent Action Teams expected in 2023.

While financial expertise is key for Thrivent, membership programs like Thrivent Action Teams make it easy for clients to give back and make a difference where they live, work and worship.

Clients identify needs in their community and come up with creative ideas to meet them via fundraisers, service activities or educational events. The top five causes are children and youth, families, religion, hunger and education. Popular projects supporting those causes include planning fundraisers for local families in need, cleaning up community parks, organizing food drives for local pantries and leading back-to-school drives to collect supplies.

The Thrivent Action Teams Hub showcases how members are making an impact in communities big and small.

I love this program because it is a way to help others in the local communities. I see ‘Live Generously’ T-shirts a lot in our community and I am definitely proud to wear mine.
Thrivent client

How do you get a Live Generously T-shirt?

Thrivent clients with membership can apply to lead a Thrivent Action Team. Once their project is approved, they receive a Thrivent Action Kit including:

  • A Community Impact Card with up to $250 in seed money.
  • A personalized webpage and other digital tools to promote their activity.
  • Live Generously T-shirts for themselves and their team of volunteers.
  • Thank you cards, name tags, stickers and more.

Volunteers can get a shirt by leading or participating in a Thrivent Action Team.

Not a client with membership? Check with your church or your Thrivent Member Network to see if there may be local volunteer projects you can participate in.

Live Generously T-shirt colors and designs

Since 2014, the shirts have featured four designs and eight colors with the words “Live Generously” always front and center.

“The phrase and design went through rigorous membership and field testing to land on the bold and inspirational ‘Live Generously’ that we all know and love today,” says Emily. “What clients with membership and our field partners love is the way the phrase connects to their generosity through Thrivent Action Teams, while acting as a reminder for how they want to show up in their communities.”

Each year, a new look is chosen through a vote open to anyone who wants to participate.

Community impact, one shirt at a time

After nearly a decade, one thing is clear: Behind every Live Generously shirt is a story of generosity—either volunteers giving their time to make a positive impact or grateful recipients of a generous act. The shirts continue to gain momentum through the Thrivent Action Team program and the untold impact in local communities.

Interested in learning more about Thrivent’s community involvement and other membership benefits? Discover all the ways Thrivent gives back.


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