Raise Money for Your Nonprofit With an Online Store

Looking for a way to revolutionize your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy? We’ve got the answer for you – an online store. Selling nonprofit merchandise in an online store not only revitalizes your organization’s fundraising approach, but also expands your reach, captivates your supporters, and ensures a sustained impact throughout the year.

This step-by-step guide has everything you need to launch and run a successful online store for your nonprofit. We’ll cover everything from possible benefits, to how to set up your store, and even go over some best practices for store promotion. Together, we can unlock the full potential of e-commerce for your cause. 

Ready to get started? Let’s jump right in!

In this post we will cover:

Benefits of Nonprofit Online Stores

When technology and community join forces, they create lasting impact. Nonprofit online stores are a prime example of this collaboration – technology and community working together smoothly and effectively. Having an online store can revolutionize the game for nonprofits and provide a versatile approach to fundraising. 

Beyond being a transactional space, online stores serve as a strategic avenue for you to magnify your presence and propel your organization towards achieving lasting and meaningful change. 

Benefits for Nonprofit Online Stores Include:

Global Reach: Having an online presence allows your nonprofit to reach a wider audience. This extends your impact beyond your local communities and potentially attracts new supporters globally.

Brand Visibility and Recognition: Branded merchandise serves as a walking advertisement for your nonprofit. When supporters showcase and wear your items, they enhance your brand visibility and recognition.

Community Engagement: Selling merchandise for your nonprofit in an online store fosters a direct connection between you and your supporters. This nurtures a sense of community engagement.

Donor Incentives: Merchandise can be a compelling incentive for donors – encouraging contributions and offering a tangible way to acknowledge their support.

Data Insights: Online sales provide you with important information about supporter preferences and buying habits. This helps you adjust your merchandise and marketing strategies accordingly.

Continuous Fundraising: Unlike one-time events, an online store operates continuously, providing a consistent avenue for fundraising efforts without being tied to specific dates or locations. Your online store can always be active!

Integrating Your Online Store into Your Fundraising Strategy

When it comes to incorporating an online store into your fundraising strategy, the good news is that it doesn’t necessitate a complete overhaul of your existing approach. This process is more about strategic integration than a radical transformation.

By strategically introducing your online store into your current fundraising initiatives, you can tap into a range of benefits that extend beyond traditional methods.

How to Integrate Your Nonprofit Online Store Into Your Strategy:

Strategic Merchandise Selection: Choose merchandise that aligns with your nonprofit’s mission and resonates with your target audience. When you offer items that reflect your organization’s established values and purpose, you secure a stronger connection with your supporters.

Themed Campaigns: Link campaigns in your online store to specific events, milestones, or causes. Design merchandise that mirrors the theme, fostering a sense of community and shared purpose.

Collaborations and Partnerships: Utilize collaborations with artists, influencers, or other organizations to co-create and promote exclusive merchandise. Projects like these expand your reach and bring fresh perspectives to your merchandise selection.

Incorporate Storytelling: Include aspects of storytelling in your product descriptions and marketing materials. Share the impact of each purchase, connecting the merchandise to your mission and the difference it makes.

Choosing the Best Platform for Your Online Store

Selecting the right platform for your nonprofit’s online store is pivotal for success. This choice is more than a technical decision—it’s a strategic move that directly influences the effectiveness of your fundraising initiatives, user experience, and overall engagement with your community of supporters. 

The platform you choose becomes the backbone of your fundraising efforts, impacting integration capabilities and, ultimately, contributing to the achievement of your organization’s mission.

What to Consider When Choosing a Platform:

Ease of Use: It’s important to find a platform with a user-friendly interface that makes it easy for both administrators and customers to navigate.

Cost Structure: Understand the platform’s pricing model – including transaction fees, subscription costs, and any additional charges. Choose a solution that aligns with your budget and financial goals.

Bonfire Costs: Bonfire’s platform is free to use and requires no upfront costs! Bonfire is an excellent choice for nonprofits, just like you, who are looking for cost-friendly online store platforms! 

Integration Capabilities: Make sure the platform you choose works well with your current systems – like payment options, accounting software, and customer relationship management tools.

Bonfire Integrations: Bonfire offers a YouTube Merch Shelf integration that enables you to sell merch directly on your YouTube channel and a Linktree integration that lets you add your store and products directly in your profile.

Bonfire makes it easy to launch peer-to-peer t-shirt fundraisers via our Giving Campaigns. Our integrations with leading platforms like Classy and BlackBaud TeamRaiser ensure seamless p2p t-shirt fundraisers for your organization. Opting for a versatile merch platform sets your organization up for both current and future success.

Customization Options: Look for platforms that allow you to customize your online store. That way you can make sure your store aligns with your nonprofit’s branding and mission. 

Customer Support: Evaluate the level of customer support provided by the platform. Responsive and accessible support can be crucial for troubleshooting issues and ensuring smooth operations.

Analytics and Reporting: Opt for platforms that offer robust analytics and reporting tools. These insights can help you understand customer behavior, track sales, and refine your strategy.

Nonprofit Features on Bonfire: Bonfire offers a full suite of features that were designed specifically to help nonprofits raise more money and connect with their community through custom apparel.

Reduced Donation Fees on Bonfire: Once your nonprofit is verified on Bonfire, all of your processing fees are significantly reduced from 8% to 3.5%.

Bonfire Verified Nonprofit Badge: A green heart with a checkmark will appear next to your org name on your org page and campaign page. This is a symbol of trust that lets your supporters know their money will directly benefit your organization.

Customizable Organization Profile Pages on Bonfire: Your organization’s official profile page is your nonprofit’s home to tell your story, highlight active campaigns, and show off your fundraising stats.

Downloadable Supporter List on Bonfire: You have the option to effortlessly export the contact details of your supporters from all your connected campaigns – in a user-friendly .CSV format.

Payment Options: Make sure the platform you choose offers a variety of payment options for your supporters.

Deciding What Products to Sell

The products you choose to sell in your nonprofit’s online store go beyond just making sales. When you choose the right products, you ensure financial sustainability and help to shape the overall identity of your nonprofit. Think of your merchandise as a way to tell your story – this strengthens the emotional connection between your cause and your community. 

Things to Consider When Deciding What Products to Sell:

Relevance to Mission: Choose products that directly align with your nonprofit’s mission and values. This reinforces your organization’s identity and resonates with your supporters.

Target Audience: Understand your target audience and their preferences. Select products that appeal to your supporters and foster a stronger connection with your cause.

Quality and Sustainability: Prioritize high-quality products that reflect positively on your organization. Additionally, consider sustainable and eco-friendly options to align with contemporary values.

Costs and Profit Margins: Evaluate the production and procurement costs of the products to ensure a reasonable profit margin. This ensures that your online store contributes meaningfully to your fundraising efforts.

Practicality and Usability: Choose products that your supporters will find practical and usable in their everyday lives. This increases the likelihood of repeat purchases and ongoing support.

Pricing Your Products

It’s important to be intentional with how you price your products. You want to make sure your prices are accessible to your target market, while still covering your costs. 

This approach transforms transactions into meaningful contributions, reinforcing financial sustainability and fostering lasting connections with your community.

What to Think About When Pricing Your Products:

Fundraising Goals: Consider your organization’s fundraising goals and precisely calculate the revenue required from merchandise sales to support your programs and initiatives. Clearly articulate how merchandise sales align with and contribute to your fundraising strategy.

Transparency: Clearly inform donors how their purchase contributes to your nonprofit’s mission and provide regular updates on how the proceeds make a positive impact.

Market Research: Research the market price range for similar merchandise to understand your target audience’s pricing expectations.

Feedback from Supporters: Collect supporter feedback on pricing to gain valuable insights into their perceived value and willingness to pay.

Setting Up Your Online Store

Building your nonprofit online store on Bonfire is super easy. Once you have a Bonfire account, you can select the Store tab on the dashboard to begin! You’ll be prompted to name your store (we recommend using your org name to keep things consistent). You can change your store name at any time.

Next, you’ll be able to add merch campaigns (minimum of 1 and a maximum of 50 campaigns) and customize the look of your store. Once you’ve got everything set, all you have to do is hit Publish and your store will be LIVE! If it sounds too good to be true, let us assure you – it’s too good AND it’s true! We told you it was easy! 

Helpful Resources:
Create a Store
Manage Campaigns in Your Store
Change Store Settings
How to Create and Customize an Online Merch Store With Bonfire

Promoting Your Online Store

Now that you have your nonprofit online store up and running – it’s time to promote it to your community! Effectively promoting your online store helps drive visibility and encourages supporters to contribute. Strategic promotion not only boosts sales, but also broadens your audience, fostering long-term relationships with those aligned with your mission. 

Ways to Promote Your Online Store:

Post on Social Media: Use relevant social media platforms to showcase your products. Engage your audience with impactful visuals – including photos and videos. It’s also a great idea to re-share user-generated content as a way of promoting your merchandise! 

Website Integration: Feature your online store prominently on your website. You want to make it as easy as possible for visitors to explore and learn about your merchandise.

Collaborate with Influencers: Partner with influencers, both within and outside the nonprofit sector, to extend your reach. Influencers can help promote your products to their followers, generating more interest.

Run Promotions and Campaigns: Create promotions or campaigns tied to specific events, holidays, or milestones. Limited-time offers or exclusive items can drive urgency and boost sales.

Create Compelling Content: Develop compelling and shareable content about your online store and the impact of purchases. This could include success stories, behind-the-scenes footage, or interviews with beneficiaries.

Utilize Paid Advertising: Consider using paid advertising on social media platforms or other relevant channels to reach a broader audience. Target your ads to specific demographics or interests.

Highlight Impact: Emphasize the impact of purchases. Clearly communicate how funds raised through the online store contribute to your nonprofit’s mission. Your supporters will appreciate knowing how their purchases contributed to positive change. 

Exploring online stores can offer a world of benefits for your nonprofit. Following this guide lets you diversify revenue, engage a wider audience, and strengthen your community ties. Gear up to transform your nonprofit’s future – launch that online store and unleash the power of digital impact, today!

Ready to empower your cause with an online store?

Start selling custom merch to your supporters today with your free Bonfire store.

Written by: Hayden Ireland / Content Specialist
Illustrated by: Madison Summers / Lead Marketing Designer

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