While fundraising traditionally comes from such revenue streams as donations and proceeds from fundraising events, there is another option that can give some extra help. Online stores for nonprofits can serve as a great additional boost to reaching the fundraising goals. In addition to offering another stream of revenue, nonprofit merchandise sales also help build your nonprofit brand. When your supporters 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
- Key chains
- Bracelets and jewelry
- Tote bags
- 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 online stores for nonprofits is the logistics of shipping the products. Consider if these products will be drop shipped from a company that can make it on demand, or if some of these products will be stored on premise and shipped by your staff. Vet with 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.
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 to donate from within the storefront. Another way to add a donation is as an option upon check-out, in case a supporter wants to give a little extra during their transaction.
Our online store for nonprofits supports tribute giving, for gifts made In Honor Of or In Memory Of someone special. Additionally, recurring giving is supported for monthly donations. Starting a monthly donation campaign is a great additional revenue source.
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.
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 an easy-to-use template that is customizable for your nonprofit’s storefront needs.
Some helpful features of our online stores include:
- Categories – make it easy to browse for certain types of nonprofit merchandise
- Price filtering option
- Auto-reply email confirmations so that your supporters can review and track their order
- Comprehensive financial reporting
- Easy integrated payment processing
Don’t forget that customer service should also 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.
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 copy writing 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?
Yoast, the leading SEO app for WordPress-based nonprofit websites, is built into our DoJiggy Engage website builder. Utilizing SEO tools and best practices are essential to search engine rankings.
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.
Following these steps, getting your organization setup 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 Engage 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.