While nonprofit fundraising traditionally comes from such revenue streams as donations, grants, and proceeds from fundraising events, there is another easy option for many groups. Creating an online store for your nonprofit can serve as a great additional boost to reaching your fundraising goals.
In addition to offering another stream of revenue, nonprofit merchandise sales also help build your nonprofit brand. When your supporters wear or carry merchandise that displays your logo, it helps spread awareness about your nonprofit mission. Brand awareness is just one of the essential steps towards building your nonprofit brand.
Here we outline the eight essential steps for building online (or eCommerce) stores for nonprofits:
- Decide on the Best Products for your Nonprofit Store
- Evaluate Shipping Logistics
- Determine Product Pricing
- Use Great Product Photos
- Add Donation Functionality
- Add an Option to Keep Updated During Check-Out
- Build a Nonprofit SEO Strategy
- Promote Awareness of Your Online Store & Products Through Social Media
Nonprofit Merchandise Sales Step 1: Decide on the Best Products for your Organization’s Store
Determine the best products that you think will work for your nonprofit organization. Talk to co-workers and friends and view other organization’s online stores for ideas. Be creative and find items that match your organization’s mission.
Some of the most popular products for nonprofit merchandise sales include:
- Branded t-shirts
- Sweatshirts and sweaters
- Hats and caps
- Customized pet products
- Key chains
- Bracelets and jewelry
- Tote bags, laptop cases, or backpacks
- Phone protectors and cases
- Coffee mugs – stainless steel and ceramic
Nonprofit Merchandise Sales Step 2: Evaluate Shipping Logistics
An important factor to consider when choosing which products to host in your nonprofit’s online store is the logistics of shipping the products. Consider if these products will be drop-shipped from a company that can make items on-demand, and/or if products will be stored on-premise and shipped by your staff. DoJiggy’s eCommerce stores integrate with Printful, for easy on-demand printing and shipping.
Vet vendors that will be supplying the products for the terms for manufacturing, the turnaround time, minimum requirements, and any other terms or fees that come with ordering your products. Another consideration is where the items are manufactured, whether they are domestic or international, and if this is a priority for your organization and supporters.
Nonprofit Merchandise Sales Step 3: Determine Product Pricing
After evaluating the costs of selling the products, price each product appropriately so that there is a reasonable profit of approximately 30-50% for each item. With lower cost items such as key chains, the profit margin can sometimes be as high as 75%. Keep track of this information so that you can consider offering sales and promotions, while still raising money. Perform market research on other nonprofit organizations to make sure that your nonprofit merchandise isn’t being priced too high or too low, while still determining the amount needed to make a reasonable profit.
Printful’s pricing app makes it easy to see your nonprofit price and how much your organization will earn on each sale.
Nonprofit Merchandise Sales Step 4: Use Great Product Photos
The appeal of purchasing nonprofit merchandise begins with attractive visuals, as does much of the retail industry. Make sure to show your merchandise to your supporters in the best light. Have the photos of your merchandise professionally edited so that the storefront looks as professional and attractive as your nonprofit store.
Our online store for nonprofits gives you the flexibility to add as many images you need for each product. You can have a single image of an item. Multiple images showing different views of one item. Or variations of one type of product such as baseball caps. You can have a separate image, and price for each variation of that product. Users can easily scroll through images to view different angles or attributes.
Nonprofit Merchandise Sales Step 5: Add Donation Functionality
Don’t forget to offer the option for online and mobile giving within the storefront. This can be done as a Donate Now button as well as integrating an option to donate during check-out, in case a supporter wants to give a little extra during their transaction.
Our Pro store for nonprofits supports tribute giving, for gifts made In Honor Of or In Memory Of someone special. Additionally, recurring giving can be supported for monthly donations. (Starting a monthly donation campaign is a great additional revenue source for nonprofits to consider.)
Nonprofit Merchandise Sales Step 6: Add an Option to Engage More During Check-Out
Customers of your nonprofit merchandise sales may not necessarily be subscribed to receive updates about your nonprofit organization. Offer a checkbox to add them to your newsletter subscription and event invitations. This is an opportunity to cultivate donors so that they can participate in other great ways, whether it’s to become a volunteer, attend future events, or become a recurring donor.
As always, offering a great donor experience is key. Don’t forget that customer service should be friendly and responsive after the sale, whether it’s offering an interactive online prompt to answer questions for storefront visitors, a toll-free number to handle order inquiries or a customer service email that gives responses within a reasonable time.
Pro Tip: Integrate your online store with a nonprofit CRM to make the most of user data.
Offer a Great Shopping Experience with DoJiggy’s eCommerce Stores
Make sure your online storefront is easy to navigate for your supporters. DoJiggy online store websites offer easy-to-use templates that are customizable for your nonprofit’s storefront needs. We offer two types of nonprofit stores.
Ecommerce Store Option 1: Simple Stores
Our Simple Stores are the best option to get your organization set up and selling quickly, with little effort. Users can set up the store for free and add items within minutes. This is a great option for schools, churches, clubs, and all organizations where items can be picked up on-site. It also works well with fundraising events and sales fundraising campaigns. Shipping can be done if you build the shipping cost into the product cost or apply a flat-fee to each transaction for shipping.
Another great feature of our Simple Stores is that individuals and teams can sell for your organization, by enabling peer to peer functionality for your store.
Features of our Simple Stores include:
- Free pricing model, pay only a percentage of sales
- Sales tax can be added to items
- Administer promo codes for discounted sales
- Fundraising thermometer tracks sales progress
- Promote your fundraising sales via our free Text to Give feature
- Secure payment processing by Stripe
Ecommerce Store Option 2: Pro Stores
Our Pro Stores are for organizations that need more functionality, including automated printing and fulfillment by Printful. Many organizations use the Pro Store as part of their organization’s website for an on-going revenue generator. The Pro store is also great for organizations who don’t mind paying a monthly fee and want low platform fees.
Features of our Pro Stores include:
- Shipping connects to USPS app, for real-time shipping rates
- Automated printing and fulfillment of items, with Printful integration
- Payment processing via DoJiggy Payments, Authorize.net and/or PayPal
Nonprofit Merchandise Sales Step 7: Build an SEO Strategy
Strong nonprofit websites also strategically integrate SEO (search engine optimization) into their website strategy. SEO is a marketing strategy that involves researching particular keywords and incorporating the keywords into the copywriting of websites, blogs, and other web pages. Your nonprofit merchandise website should be no exception. When a user is searching for nonprofit merchandise or nonprofit stores, you want Google to find your organization, right?
Nonprofit Merchandise Sales Step 8: Promote Awareness of Your Online Store & Products Through Social Media
In addition to having a strong nonprofit SEO strategy, incorporating merchandise promotion into your nonprofit social media marketing is key. Offer specials as well as photos of supporters and staff wearing your nonprofit merchandise whether casually or at nonprofit events. Even if it is donning a tote bag or a cap, brand awareness is one of the benefits of nonprofit merchandise sales. Social media is the perfect vehicle to promote your nonprofit’s brand while having fun. Photos with supporters using the merchandise should also be promoted with a hashtag so that they are easy to find on popular social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
Don’t Forget to Review Legal Parameters of Selling Merchandise
For the most part, nonprofit organizations that sell products supporting the nonprofit mission should have no problem, as long as the proceeds from such sales are categorized appropriately when filing taxes. However, discuss these plans with the nonprofit accountant or CFO to assure that the storefront activity is operating according to 501(c)3 standards.
Online Merchandise Sales Conclusions
Following these steps, getting your organization set up with an online store for nonprofits will be simple to do. Set aside a proper deadline to plan accordingly so that your storefront launch and nonprofit merchandise sales will run seamlessly. DoJiggy can help further simplify setting up your storefront for nonprofit merchandises sales by providing an easy-to-customize storefront that is perfect for nonprofit organizations.
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