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Business Ideas for Non-Profits (How to Stretch Your Dollars)
Friday, December 28, 2012
If you are a nonprofit organization using the Internet to source products, you are on the cutting edge of knowing how to stretch your dollars. But as I am sure most of you have already found out, the Internet can be a very cold place to do business. You have no idea what company may be on the other side of the screen when looking for products. Can you trust them? Will they ship what is promised? Can you talk to them or do they only communicate by email?

Let's look at the different ways to find the right goods to support your cause. Since the beginning of time, buyers have always intended to acquire goods at a low cost and this is what obviously drives competition on the Internet in both the for profit and nonprofit world. On the Internet, competition is even more intense because comparing products and prices from one company to the next is only a click away; whereas in the traditional shopping experience, customers need to go from showroom to showroom to compare, which is in itself is time consuming, let alone being quite tiring.

Currently there are 3 levels of distribution on the Internet:

1. Manufacturer - This is the company that actually makes the products. They are not set up to supply individual organizations with smaller quantities of their products. They ship by truckload either directly to chain organizations that have central warehousing that can hold large quantities of goods or they ship to wholesalers and distributors who put the products in their warehouses and sell in smaller quantities. Manufacturers usually have Internet sites that provide information about their products, but do not give pricing unless you can take a truckload of goods.

2. Wholesaler & Distributor - This is the middleman who provides the service to the manufacturer of dealing with smaller accounts. Whereas a manufacturer is not interested in checking the credit worthiness of small accounts or worry about the shipments and tracking of these accounts, the wholesaler has built these functions into their business model. Wholesalers have the infrastructure to stock a lot of products and to take, fill and process orders from all sizes of nonprofits. Their model has the warehouse space, sales networks, computers and tracking systems to provide the proper customer service.

3. Online Retailer - This is the final link of the online supply chain to get goods to the consumer shopping over the Internet. Neither the manufacturer nor the wholesaler is set up to sell individual products to consumers and this has created an entire business on the Internet much like there are brick and mortar stores for consumers to shop in their own neighborhoods.

Nonprofits need to pass by the online retailers and find the true wholesalers and distributors using the Internet. Most wholesalers will require you to submit the organizations 501(c)(3) tax exempt number, so have it handy when shopping through the Internet.

So how do you quickly find the right product at the right price that you can purchase from a trusted site? Keep in mind that you want to bypass the online retailers, so using shopping comparison sites like Shopzilla.com, Find.com, Pricegrabber.com or Shopping.com which compares retail pricing not wholesale pricing is not where to go, so you waste valuable time on retail price comparison sites.

1. Use the major search engines like Google or Yahoo and Bing. But don't search for a generic term like "blankets" because they will just return to you a bunch of retail sites which becomes very frustrating. Always search for at least 3 words and if you have "wholesale" or "bulk" in your search more than likely it will get you closer to the distributors who can sell the goods by the case at much lower prices. For instance, putting in the search term on Bing.com "wholesale fleece blankets", shows on the front page 5 different Internet sites where goods can be bought by the case at substantial savings giving nonprofits more money to stretch their budgets to support their causes.

2. There are several wholesale portals that pull together the top sites giving you the ability to find the suppliers you need in one place. Go to wholesalecentral.com or wholesalehub.com or toptenwholesale.com to find a listing of online distributors.

When searching online for sites like ours at www.dollardays.com look for key words like "buy school supplies in bulk" or "wholesale disaster relief supplies" or "cheap shoes and cheap flip flops" or "discount clothes and discount beauty supplies" to give you a sense that you are actually visiting a manufacturer, wholesaler or distributor site. Then make sure you are not just buying 1 piece of an item, that all products are sold in wholesale case packs to insure you are maximizing the dollars being spent for charity purposes for schools, churches and nonprofits supporting the homeless, underprivileged, children and animals.

At www.dollardays.com we work with hundreds of nonprofit organizations to find the products needed to help those people in need. We work with The Salvation Army, Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM), The American Humane Association, The Junior League, Goodwill Stores, National Church Organizations, American Library Association, St. Vincent DePaul, Catholic Charities, PTA and many more. So we know what it takes to deliver wholesale and discount products to help others.

We also offer a wonderful Wish List program which helps nonprofit organizations get the right products at the right time for their needs. You should check it out. At www.dollardays.com we are always looking for ways to make the lives easier for those helping others in need.

So to recap what a nonprofit needs to do to save time and save money; first focus your search as specific as possible using key words like bulk, wholesale, discount or cheap to find distributors rather than retail sites; second make sure the company you find has real live people answering the phones so you can get quick answers to not only when you are ready to buy products, but the follow up once merchandise is delivered; and third find companies that care about nonprofits because compassion for doing good has benefits beyond the cost of goods.