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Nonprofit Fundraising Strategies: Online Merch Shops

11 Jan 20225 min read


Nonprofits today face fierce competition as they strive to accomplish their mission while also keeping the organization financially stable. Donations alone may not be sufficient to meet these challenges. As a result, many nonprofits are turning to alternative revenue streams, such as launching an online store, to supplement their funding.

Through an online store, nonprofits can offer products that promote their mission and generate additional income. In this article, we will explore the benefits of operating a nonprofit online store and provide guidance on how to effectively implement this strategy.

How are nonprofit organizations able to sell merchandise?

While nonprofits are exempt from federal income tax, they must adhere to specific legal guidelines to maintain their nonprofit status. Selling merchandise, such as through a gift shop or online store, can provide a source of income to fund operations. However, it is important to note that the income generated from these sales may be subject to taxation. Before establishing an online store, it is essential to consult with legal and financial professionals to ensure compliance and understand the potential impact on the organization.

Exploring the benefits of launching a nonprofit online store.

Launching a nonprofit online merch store can provide a reliable source of income to support your organization's mission. This store can feature a variety of merchandise related to your organization, such as branded clothing, products, or educational resources such as webinars or e-books.

Ecommerce has been steadily on the rise, with the U.S. Census reporting a 37.1% increase in ecommerce sales in Q3 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Additionally, operating an online store can be more cost-efficient than maintaining a physical retail location.

Integrating a nonprofit online store into your fundraising strategy.

An effective fundraising strategy should encompass a variety of channels and methods. By not utilizing online fundraising tools such as crowdsourcing, ecommerce, online campaigns, and other digital approaches, you may be missing out on a significant number of potential donors. A nonprofit online store can be a valuable addition to your fundraising strategy by providing another way for individuals to make donations. Additionally, if you have a consistent product offering, the store can serve as a reliable source of revenue, unlike a one-time grant or donation. As a bonus, when individuals make purchases in your online store, you can collect their email address for future outreach and marketing campaigns.

What platforms are best for a nonprofit online store?

Shopify is a popular platform for creating an online store, and it offers several advantages for nonprofits. One of the main benefits is its user-friendly interface, which makes it easy for nonprofits to set up and manage their online store. Additionally, Shopify offers a wide range of customization options, allowing nonprofits to create a store that reflects their brand and mission. Shopify also offers a variety of payment gateways, making it easy for nonprofits to accept donations from different countries and currencies. Furthermore, Shopify has a large app store with various integrations, which allows nonprofits to add additional features to their store such as email marketing, social media, and analytics. With Shopify, nonprofits can easily set up and manage their online store and increase their revenue in a cost-effective way

What merchandise options are available for your nonprofit organization?

When choosing merchandise for your nonprofit organization, it's essential to ensure that it aligns with your mission. For example, if your organization focuses on environmental conservation, selling branded plastic water bottles may not be a suitable option. It's a good idea to ask your employees and current donors for their input on what merchandise they would be likely to purchase from your organization.

There are many options available for merchandise, including branded items such as clothing, coffee mugs, pens, and other everyday items. However, this is also an opportunity to be creative and think outside the box. For example, if your organization offers a popular class or event, consider turning it into a paid webinar that people can purchase.

When selling physical merchandise, it's essential to consider the cost of production and shipping. It's easy to find vendors that can print your logo on tote bags or t-shirts, but other items may be more challenging to produce. The logistics should be simple and cost-effective. For example, Best Friends Animal Society has an online store that offers a wide range of merchandise for both people and pets, which aligns with the organization's mission of helping animals. The Getty Museum Store is another example, which offers typical gift shop items and merchandise that ties into various exhibits throughout the museum. It brings the gift shop experience to people at home and allows them to shop long after their visit. The store also includes buttons with information about upcoming exhibits throughout the online store, which is a great way to integrate your store with your website.