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No longer are the days when going door to door or holding bake sales are the most effective ways to fundraise. It's 2017 — it's time to revolutionize the way nonprofits raise money, by taking advantage of e-commerce.
Creating a dedicated online store means you can easily accept donations from all around the world. And better yet, you can expand your network of brand advocates — people who not only share your organization's values, but who publicly champion all the good you do on a regular basis.
In this post, we'll give you tips and tricks on creating an online store, and show you how to choose what to offer.
An online store can be a great resource for any nonprofit organization, big or small.
If it's not selling products, your online store can act as a safe and secure place to gather donations. Shopify even has a Buy Button that can add this functionality to your existing website (even if it's on another platform, like WordPress).
Create your online store
What you offer will depend on your organization, your mission, which target audience you cater to, and your budget. With this in mind, here are two categories to consider:
Let's say your organization provides $50 worth of food to a family in need, for every $10 donated. Why not use your online store to visually represent this exchange?
Here's an example: One Tree Planted is a US-based nonprofit that raises awareness for reforestation. Its product offering is simple: $1.00 donated, one tree planted.
In its online store, donors can choose which area of the world they'd like to plant a tree, and how many trees they'd like to plant there. The product page has a brief description of why donors should choose a specific area, and the impact the donation will have. It also lists any third-party partners that will help achieve the goal.
Although the donor may not actually receive a tree, the visual representation of the exchange is compelling. Try this strategy for your organization if it's a good fit.
Maybe your organization wants to offer "swag" items that can easily be drop shipped — such as t-shirts, coffee mugs, USB sticks, and other physical products. These items are cost-effective, can be custom branded, and help your best advocates promote their love for your cause. A win-win!
Or, you can choose to sell customized products that are more in line with your organization's mission statement, like sustainable solar lighting nonprofit Watts of Love. This organization provides donors with the opportunity to purchase solar-powered light products (in addition to more traditional products, like t-shirts).
A full 100 percent of the proceeds collected from these solar-powered lights goes towards bringing solar-powered light to those in need.
Regardless of what type of items you choose to offer in your online store, take a page from Amnesty International's book and provide donors with the option to add advocacy materials to their order.
These materials can be pamphlets, brochures, posters, stickers, or any item that helps donors amplify your cause in their communities.
Whether you offer these items for free (like Amnesty International does for many of its materials), or charge a base fee for the production costs, is completely up to you. Just consider the additional awareness you can create for your organization by making these materials visible and accessible in your store.
Beyond technical logistics, here are some simple dos and don'ts to get your organization started with e-commerce.
Set up your online store
Sara is a content marketer with the Shopify Partner Program. She's passionate about empowering individuals and organizations alike to grow their businesses, find new audiences, and think outside the box — especially when it comes to e-commerce.
nice and motivating. thanks
I really like your post and thanks for all the great ideas. The problem that we have at www.inventorforgemakerspace.org is that we have no idea how to do "Marketing" and how to draw people to our site or online store (and no, we don't have an online store, yet). Any thoughts around that would be very welcome. -- Thanks again.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a big part of getting visitors to your site. Moz has a great beginner's guide: moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo .
If you have any more questions about getting traffic to your site, I'm happy to help. Just shoot me an email or call! I couldn't seem to find you via the direct message system.
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.