In recent years, “affiliate marketing” has become something of a buzzword in the digital marketing sphere. Individuals or organizations who have a large platform, like a popular blog or a social media following, will join businesses’ affiliate marketing programs to promote their products. In return, they receive commissions, discounts, and other perks from the business.
The affiliate marketing model doesn’t just work between two for-profit organizations, though. If your nonprofit has a wide audience of supporters through your website and other digital channels, you’re in a great position to join an affiliate program.
Fortunately, there are a number of businesses that have affiliate programs which specifically cater to nonprofits. This guide will provide you with the necessary tools to get started with charity affiliate marketing by answering these questions:
- What is a charity affiliate program?
- Why should nonprofits get involved with charity affiliate marketing?
- What are some of the best affiliate fundraising programs?
In addition to joining standard charity affiliate programs, your nonprofit can also benefit from partnering with a platform that serves as a medium for engaging in charity affiliate marketing. At ShopRaise, we connect nonprofits with online retailers through our shopping fundraiser platform. When supporters purchase items from these retailers using the ShopRaise app or browser extension, a portion of the profits goes back to your organization.
Ready to get started with affiliate fundraising programs? Let’s dive in!
What is a charity affiliate program?
A charity affiliate program has a similar model to other affiliate marketing programs. The nonprofit promotes the business to its supporters in exchange for commissions.
What makes charity affiliate programs stand out is that the businesses who offer them are interested in supporting a good cause. They understand that the commissions their affiliates receive will serve as funding to further the affiliate’s mission and that you’ll be marketing your nonprofit’s efforts as you promote their business.
For example, let’s say you create a social media post to promote an upcoming 5K race fundraiser. In the caption, you recommend that participants bring a water bottle and sunscreen and include a link to the business’s website alongside those product mentions. When your supporters click the link to buy those items, a percentage of their total sales goes back to your nonprofit.
Why should nonprofits get involved with charity affiliate marketing?
By joining an affiliate marketing program, your nonprofit will receive year-round unrestricted revenue to help cover essential but often underfunded budgeting needs, like operating expenses. You can also benefit from charity affiliate marketing in a number of other ways, including:
- Spreading awareness about your cause to the business’s existing customers.
- Forming new connections with businesses to further your impact and lay the groundwork for potential future sponsorships.
- Diversifying your revenue streams conveniently and at no additional cost to you.
Affiliate marketing can be a valuable part of your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy. However, before you get started with affiliate marketing, do your research to find the right type of charity affiliate program for your organization.
What are some of the best affiliate fundraising programs?
When choosing an affiliate program for your nonprofit, you’ll need to consider several factors. You’ll want to partner with a business that appeals to your supporters because you can only receive commissions if they’re willing to buy your partner’s products. Additionally, consider each program’s commission model and whether your partner organization’s values align with your nonprofit’s mission.
To help start your research into charity affiliate programs, let’s look at 10 of the top options you could consider:
Featured charity affiliate marketing solution: ShopRaise
ShopRaise is different from traditional affiliate marketing because instead of joining a program directly through a single business, your nonprofit will partner with an online shopping fundraiser platform that has access to a wide network of online retailers. The best part is that many of your supporters probably already shop at these retailers, so they can contribute to your nonprofit without going out of their normal routines or spending any extra money.
How to get started with ShopRaise
Your nonprofit can engage in affiliate marketing through ShopRaise in three easy steps:
- Signing up for ShopRaise. ShopRaise’s experts will walk you through the onboarding process, handle all negotiations with retailers, and even create a branded landing page for your organization.
- Spreading the word to your supporters. Marketing is essential for a successful online shopping fundraiser. Leverage your organization’s website, email, social media, and other communication channels to tell supporters how to download ShopRaise’s app and browser extension. ShopRaise can also design custom marketing materials to help your nonprofit reach out to supporters regularly to remind them to keep shopping for your cause.
- Tracking fundraising results. You’ll be able to view data on your fundraiser as supporters start making purchases, allowing you to thank your top supporters and adjust your marketing strategy in real time. However, ShopRaise protects shoppers’ privacy by limiting the details your organization sees to just their names and the total amounts they’ve raised—only the shopper will know exactly what items they purchased.
When your organization starts fundraising through ShopRaise, your supporters will shop online as they usually do. They’ll pay the same prices for items and have access to the same discounts they would have otherwise. The only difference is that they’ll use the ShopRaise app and browser extension to make those purchases. Over time, their everyday purchases will add up to significant contributions for your nonprofit!
Why ShopRaise stands out
ShopRaise isn’t a traditional charity affiliate program, so it offers unique benefits to both nonprofits and supporters. Mainly, rather than buying items they may not have purchased otherwise from one specific business, supporters can contribute to your organization by making everyday purchases from many of their favorite retailers. There’s no additional cost or work required on their end.
On the nonprofit side, ShopRaise is free to join, has a user-friendly interface, and works for organizations of all sizes. Also, it isn’t limited to traditional 501(c)(3) nonprofits. Schools, faith-based organizations, associations, clubs, and sports teams can all fundraise through ShopRaise.
Other top charity affiliate programs
If your nonprofit wants to join a more traditional charity affiliate program, you can start your research with these nine organizations:
GreaterGood is a network of online stores that are registered fundraisers for Greater Good Charities. Purchasing from these stores supports nonprofits that serve people, pets, and the planet. They have raised more than $75 million for good causes through sales of clothing, accessories, beauty products, food, home and kitchen supplies, and more.
GreaterGood’s affiliate program offers a tiered commission structure in addition to the wide range of products that supporters can choose from. Shoppers can support both your organization and a variety of others when purchasing from GreaterGood stores.
Commission Rate: 2%-8%
Fundraising.com has supported nonprofits in fundraising for more than 30 years. They offer a variety of fundraising products and guides to help organizations raise funds.
The Fundraising.com affiliate program holds opportunities for nonprofit networking as you’ll earn commissions for promoting fundraising guides and online campaigns. The program also has a second tier where affiliates work together with the organization to sell co-branded products.
Commission Rate: 10%
3. CARE International
CARE International is a confederation of 21 nonprofits that have been working to fight global poverty, injustice, and gender inequality for 75 years. Their locally-based solutions have now been implemented in more than 100 countries.
CARE’s affiliate program is available internationally and is also a networking opportunity that drives support for these organizations. When working with an organization like CARE where you create donation opportunities for another nonprofit, make sure to continue promoting your own donation channels as well.
Commission Rate: 6.4%
4. Plan International
Plan International is another organization working to end global poverty. Founded in 1937 and active in more than 75 countries, much of their effort is focused on children’s access to education and food, as well as gender equality initiatives.
Plan International’s affiliate program is also focused on driving donations, which comes with the same benefits and challenges as CARE International’s program. These donations can benefit millions of children worldwide and form helpful relationships.
Commission Rate: 4%-7%
Donorbox is an all-in-one fundraising platform. While they focus on creating online donation pages, their solutions also work for crowdfunding campaigns, text-to-give, and donor management.
Donorbox has a number of nonprofit professionals in their affiliate program network. They provide helpful technical support to affiliates as they gain referrals and earn recurring commissions.
Commission Rate: 15%
Omaze is a donation platform raising funds for Charities Aid Foundation America. They put a unique twist on donating by incentivizing giving with the chance to win major prizes like vacation packages and new cars.
You’ll earn commissions for each donation/contest entry that Omaze receives through your referral links. Omaze also incentivizes their affiliate program by offering the potential for increased commission rates over time.
Commission Rate: up to 12% baseline.
7. Better World Books
Better World Books is a socially-conscious, for-profit online bookseller. Customers around the world have purchased new and used books on their website while funding their commitment to literacy and sustainability since 2003. As of September 2022, Better World Books has raised $33.9 million for libraries and literacy initiatives, donated 34.7 million books, and reused or recycled more than 443 million books.
While the Better World Books affiliate program has a slightly lower commission rate than some charity affiliate programs, they offer unlimited referrals and stock thousands of popular books. So, each individual you refer can easily buy multiple books each time they visit the site.
Commission Rate: 5%-8%
8. The Linux Foundation
The Linux Foundation is the global nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the popular Linux operating system and training new software developers in its use. The foundation offers certifications and training courses to help users keep up with the latest updates and features the software offers.
Although the Linux Foundation affiliate program requires affiliates to promote niche products, the commission rate is one of the highest among charity affiliate programs. Plus, the foundation offers free tracking tools and various discounts.
Commission Rate: 20%
Krowdster provides support and marketing for crowdfunding campaigns. Individuals and organizations can turn to Krowdster for social media support and other custom marketing materials to promote their Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns.
Krowdster’s marketing solutions also influence their affiliate program. They offer unlimited referrals, helpful support, and extensive tracking methods for affiliate marketing—not to mention the high commission rate.
Commission Rate: 20%
Charity affiliate programs: The bottom line
Charity affiliate programs can help your nonprofit bring in significant, ongoing revenue through commissions and expand your network as you partner with other organizations focused on supporting charitable causes. Although traditional affiliate programs have their benefits, not all of them will be right for every nonprofit. Do your research and consider getting involved with other mediums for affiliate marketing as well, such as ShopRaise.
For more information on how your supporters’ shopping can support your nonprofit’s mission, check out these resources:
- Ethical Shopping: How to Change the World With Your Wallet. Discover how you can leverage consumers’ interest in making an impact as they shop to fundraise for your organization.
- Passive Fundraising: How to Earn Extra Revenue (+5 Ideas). Explore the world of passive fundraising, such as participating in charity affiliate programs, in more detail.
- Shop for a Cause: How to Give Back While Shopping Online. Learn more about your nonprofit’s ability to bring in revenue when your supporters make everyday online purchases.