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Using eCommerce as a New Source of Revenue

By: Brittany Engelmann-- 2017-03-07 7:00 am --

With so many technologies available and new ideas coming out all the time, nonprofits have many more opportunities to get creative with their fundraising than in the past.

One such opportunity is an eCommerce store on your website. While it’s not as simple as just adding a tab to your website’s main menu, an eCommerce program for your nonprofit can be an extra source of income for your organization if well planned and executed.

Have a communications plan

Start with a communications and marketing plan. Consider each area that gives you the opportunity to direct shoppers to your store, including on your website, through email marketing and in-person. Think about how your new shop will fit into your existing fundraising efforts and how you will bring new shoppers into your organization to become donors.

Optimize your website

Your planning phase is a great time to audit your website. Make sure your information is updated, your homepage is clean and easy to read, and that you have a clear call-to-action for visitors to shop on your website.

As you’re making changes and decisions, remember that branded donation and order pages convert far better than generic pages. Shoppers and donors will feel far more comfortable if pages that ask for personal information have a look and feel that is consistent with the rest of your site.

eCommerce Software and Payment Processing

There are lots of options for eCommerce stores on the market, and the best choice for your organization depends on what software you used to build your website.

For example, companies like Wix and Weebly offer eCommerce as a built-in option, while WordPress requires a plugin to create an eCommerce component to your site.

Pay Attention to Packaging

One lesson to take from the for-profit businesses is putting effort into branded packaging. No matter who you are, it’s bound to bring a smile to your face when you receive something in the mail that is expertly wrapped and packaged with care.

Manage Your Inventory and Program

Depending on what you sell in your store, shopping for inventory from sites like DollarDays can allow you to buy in bulk and make a profit to support your programs. Finding ways to personalize and brand your items can give an extra special touch.

Once you’re up and running, you’ll need to manage your program. Someone will need to take charge of filling orders and tracking inventory. If you’re a small organization with limited manpower, this is a great opportunity for volunteers to get involved.

Carry items that appeal to your donor base, such as branded items or inventory related to your cause. Your store doesn’t have to be just items that people can purchase for themselves. If achieving your mission involves providing supplies to those in need, offering “care packages” for purchase in your store can also be an option. Don’t be afraid to get creative!