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by nshrivastava

January 11, 2019

Action Guides 5 min read

Your Ultimate Guide to Setting up a Nonprofit Ecommerce

The internet has influenced almost every industry, including the nonprofit sector. With so many users online, nonprofits can use platforms like social media or their own website to raise awareness for a cause.

The internet is also a powerful tool for effective fundraising. It presents a large marketing and fund-generating opportunity for nonprofits.

By leveraging ecommerce, nonprofit organisations can start developing better fundraising strategies. As a nonprofit director or manager, you may be wondering where to begin. Keep reading to learn strategies you need to create an impact online.

Nonprofit Ecommerce: Why take your cause online

Gone are the days when volunteers head door to door to raise funds for an organisation. In the age where technology drives everything — it’s time nonprofits turned to ecommerce.

Your nonprofit organisation can take advantage of ecommerce for several reasons:

  1. Access to a larger market for non-profitable income. Organisations face geographical challenges when raising funds around the world. Ecommerce breaks those boundaries without the added expense of travel.
  2. It’s convenient. People no longer have to be physically present to support a cause. By connecting with a cause online, they have the freedom to contribute to organisations 24/7.
  3. It’s affordable. Fundraising events are an intimate way to connect with your supporters — but they can be costly. Ecommerce presents a cheaper, less time-consuming alternative for nonprofits.

Ecommerce ideas for charities

Nonprofit ecommerce opens a wealth of possibilities for your organisation. To be successful in your fundraising efforts, you need to create activities that are engaging and profitable.

Get started with these great ideas:

Online fundraising auctions

online auctions

Online auctions allow bidders from all over the world to participate. It helps you save time and energy by eliminating the need for an auctioneer to facilitate the event.

You’re free to auction off any item, but do make sure it appeals to your target audience. Sell anything from “garage sale” items to priceless packages to grab attention. You can get creative too. Auction off artwork, tickets, and hotel accommodation to generate buzz for your cause.

Online courses, webinars, or services

online courses

Don’t have items to sell? Don’t worry, there are several other things you can put on the table. If you have a skill or even sufficient knowledge in a certain subject, then why not offer that in exchange for cash?

A webinar is a great way to support your charity. You can set up a how-to guide in any topic you know about — whether it's about self-care, writing a book, or developing a website.

Online store

online store

Online stores are a great resource for nonprofit organisations. Not only are they a good way to earn donations, but they also increase brand value.

Even without technical knowledge, you can set up an online store with a hosted ecommerce platform.

5 steps to creating your product-based online store

1. Select profitable products

Finding products to sell can be a challenge, especially when other nonprofits sell similar commodities — including mugs, hats, shirts, and other novelty items.

To add value to your products, consider employing a designer for unique customisations or featured messages.

2. Contact suppliers

Setting up an online store doesn’t necessarily involve selling products you make. You may consult groups who specially package and sell goods for nonprofits to resell.

Pick the items you need and verify the values behind this product to avoid any kind of PR nightmare. For example, if you’re an animal welfare group, you wouldn’t want to sell items that aren’t 100% cruelty-free!

As soon as you’re finished verifying, start coordinating with sales and see if you can get a wholesale price. Feel free to inform them that you’re selling for a good cause. Most companies would happily lower their prices for charity.

3. Offer bundles and discounts

bundles and discounts

Because you’re selling for a good cause, it becomes easier for you to encourage customers to spend more.

Offer special discounts for bundled items, or sell packaged deals for upcoming fundraising events. The idea that they’re supporting a cause will inspire customers to buy for their friends and family, too.

4. Connect to marketplaces

connect to online marketplaces

One challenge nonprofits face is how to drive products sales. Marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, or Facebook Marketplace are an effective way to widen your reach. When setting up your store, remember to link to your website and other social media accounts.

5. Track your conversions with analytics

track conversions

One of the most crucial points of running an online store is to measure its metrics and conversions. In simpler words, are your visitors taking the desired actions you’re looking for?

The most common conversions that web visitors take can be any of the following:

  • Filling out a survey or form
  • Visiting landing pages
  • Sending a message to customer support
  • Signing up for a newsletter
  • Proceeding to checkout

However, the conversions your nonprofit ecommerce expects depend on your strategy. Are you looking to have visitors make a donation? Or do you want them to sign up for an email newsletter?

Ultimately, you determine what conversions will benefit your website. Use tools such as Google Analytics to analyze visitor behaviour and see if you’re drawing the right engagement for your cause.

Guide your visitors through the donation journey

Donation journeys are similar to ecommerce checkout counters.

To encourage visitors, you need to streamline the conversion pathway. Meet your conversion goal by following the steps below:

Step # 1 Engage: The first step is to engage visitors with compelling content. Tell them your story: What inspired you to launch your cause? What are your goals? Who are the members of the organisation? When a person becomes more aware of your cause, they transition from a visitor to a supporter.

Step # 2 Encourage: Increase donations by creating a sense of urgency. Simply adding a countdown clock or a deadline for donations is enough to inspire conversions.

Step # 3 Focus on the user experience: A better user experience is likely to increase donations. This means creating a simple, hassle-free donation process for visitors. Unwanted designs like a popup to create an account or sign up for a newsletter can turn visitors away.

Step # 4 Create a compelling call-to-action: A well-designed CTA provokes emotion or enthusiasm. Increase clicks by using command words like “Donate Now”, “Learn More”, or “Donate Today”.

The bottom line

Nonprofits are deploying digital strategies to take on the shift that the ecommerce industry has delivered. You must apply this aspect to stand apart in a very competitive market. With ecommerce becoming cheaper and easier to run, it’s time your organisation integrated this strategy today.

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Online fundraising auctions
Online courses, webinars, or services
Online store
1. Select profitable products
2. Contact suppliers
3. Offer bundles and discounts
4. Connect to marketplaces
5. Track your conversions with analytics