Should I Create a Merchandise Shop for My NonProfit Organization?

Chloe Ayres
January 10, 2024

The goal of a nonprofit is to generate funds to fulfill their mission. This could be helping the less fortunate or increasing awareness of a certain matter. Nonprofits are unlike businesses since they don't produce a product or service with the intent of making money.

Recollect the last occasion you visited a museum or animal refuge. Many of these sites have gift stores where products are sold. Establishing a swag store for your nonprofit organization will enable you to provide enjoyable items that fans and contributors can bring home with them.

Is it possible for a nonprofit to offer goods for sale?

A valid inquiry - the response to which is affirmative! Nonprofits are indeed allowed to sell items. Though it may appear odd to make money through a nonprofit organization by selling products, it is legally acceptable to do so as long as the proceeds are properly taxed.

You have the option of either utilizing the sale of products to generate funds to achieve a particular objective, or treating the proceeds from the sale of such goods as business income for taxation purposes. Providing you can differentiate between the two come tax season, you should be able to raise money from your store!

What are the potential benefits of establishing a swag store for a charitable organization?

Before setting up a swag store for your nonprofit organization, it is advisable to review the advantages for doing so. This way, you can establish achievable objectives, create a strategy for marketing the store, and decide on the perfect swag to fit the purpose. There are both financial and promotional benefits to this endeavor.

Generating greater income

There is a phenomenon known as donor fatigue, whereby individuals stop contributing to a charitable organization even if they had done so regularly earlier. To reinvigorate enthusiasm, an idea could be to offer a reward for donating, such as a cool mug or a t-shirt.

Offering products for sale outside of a fundraiser can be a great way to bring in money for the organization. People tend to be motivated to give when they have an emotional connection to the cause. That is why you'll often find yourself buying a cute turtle plushie in the gift shop of the zoo! Creating a swag store that appeals to those same emotions can make people more likely to open their wallets.

At the conclusion of the day, establishing a swag store is a means to provide financial support for an extraordinary cause.

Boosting recognition of your charity organization

Letting people who are passionate about your nonprofit purchase swag is like they are paying for advertisement of your organization!

When you offer items such as t-shirts, hats, and stickers with your company's logo, it's a great way to get your brand seen by new people. For instance, if a donor purchases one of your products and someone comments on it, the donor can then spark a conversation about your website. This is an effective way to spread your logo around the world.

Paying tribute to contributors and volunteers

Expressing appreciation can be done in a great way with swag. It's something that everyone appreciates!

Incentivize your swag store customers who have made contributions to your nonprofit. For instance, you could send an email with a 25% discount code to donors after they have given money. Additionally, volunteers could be granted a 50% off coupon when they assist in an event.

Donors to nonprofits don't usually seek any reward for their kind actions; nevertheless, a token of appreciation can still mean a great deal.

Gathering a List

Building a list can be a great way to increase engagement with your audience. It can also expand your reach and help promote your products and services. List building is a great way to grow your business and maximize your online presence.

When you put items up for sale in a store, it is essential to gather certain information from customers. This consists of their name and email address with their consent, of course. Afterwards, you can add them to a mailing list.

Continuing to stay connected with those who have backed your organization is possible through email lists. You may want to email them with news about your nonprofit, upcoming events, fundraising efforts, and notifications when new merchandise is available in the store.

Let's take a look at the steps that you can take to create an online swag store for your nonprofit, now that we have established the reasons why it is beneficial.

Graphic showing the cycle of email marketing after building a list on your online store

What product or service are you looking to offer?

If you are considering starting a swag store, the items you choose are essential. It is not enough to simply put your logo on some products and offer them for sale. You must determine what types of items your buyers would like and what would fit with your purpose. There is a vast array of possibilities.

Common items may include:

T-shirts, custom socks, mugs, hats, stickers, keychains, and tote bags are all popular items.

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Quirky ideas may include:

  • Cell phone covers
  • Picture frames with artwork
  • Bracelets, necklaces, and other types of accessories
  • Bath and hand towels
  • Writing materials and other stationery items

When selecting items, it is important to focus on items that your community desires. If your primary audience is composed of men, then you should prioritize items that are favored by them. On the other hand, if your organization has an environmental focus, then reusable items such as straws and tote bags would be a wise decision. Although a t-shirt is a traditional option, make sure it aligns with the tone and branding of your organization.

Don't know what to select? Enlist the aid of current contributors and volunteers to find out which type of merchandise they would be most enthused about. Query your social media followers concerning the items they would prefer the most. Another option is to inspect the souvenir shops of not-for-profits that carry out similar activities as yours!

How Does the Money Get Used?

When you set out to create a swag store for your nonprofit, you ought to be completely certain of where the money will be allocated. Having this goal in mind will give you insight into how a swag store can benefit your nonprofit in the long-term.

Running the shop requires a considerable amount of money to be put into it. This involves covering the cost of the website and hosting, in addition to designing and delivering the products.

The remainder of money you receive is your gain. You can decide to use this for the costs of your charity or for a particular fundraising purpose. Ensure that you are demanding a sufficient amount to make a profit. Websites like Printful can help you determine how much money you can make off one item.

Setting up a swag store for your nonprofit: what to do next?

Your swag store is only the beginning; there are additional advantages that your nonprofit can gain from having one! Here are some approaches to make the most out of the store's success.

Be sure to express your gratitude towards your purchasers! Personalize the receipt email by adding a heartfelt thank you. Put in a photo or video that will establish an emotional bond. Clarify to them once more how much their acquisition has impacted you.

Don't forget to be exact! For instance, for every dollar that someone spends, one turtle can be provided with sustenance for a single day. It is essential to express gratitude and remind them that their expenditure had an impact.

You can increase the potential for e-commerce success by asking your customers to post a pic or leave a review. Social proof is an exceptionally powerful marketing tool; when prospects observe a photo of someone wearing or using your product on social media, they are more likely to make a purchase. Moreover, it's a form of free advertising, since your customer is effectively recommending your product for you.

Your website can benefit from a review or customer testimonial of the item or purchasing process. This will demonstrate to prospective buyers that others have already purchased your product. People enjoy seeing proof of your claims of quality from those who have already obtained the item.

Making sure to capture email addresses of customers is essential for keeping them up to date about new products. For instance, if you're selling mugs, hats, and t-shirts, you can use email marketing tools to tag emails based on what items have been purchased. This will enable you to reach out to customers who have bought t-shirts previously and inform them when you introduce a new design.

Examining your sales every quarter is a great practice to observe what is successful and what is not. Doing this regularly can be incredibly advantageous. If you observe that one product is particularly popular, look into how you can use that to your advantage. Perhaps extending the variety of colors or sizes of the item could be beneficial. Additionally, placing the item on the homepage of your website could be a great idea.

Take note of those items that are not performing well. It may be advantageous to experiment with versions of the product, add it to a discount area, or remove it from the store completely.

If you are utilizing any merchandise for fundraising, it is essential to make sure that any public displays show your updated totals. Additionally, if you have a goal thermometer or meter on your website, be sure to keep it up-to-date so that it accurately reflects your fundraising goals.

Chloe Ayres
January 10, 2024