Online shopping has grown in popularity in recent years. Studies show that in 2022, more than 268 million people shopped online in the United States, and that number is projected to reach 285 million by 2025. Making purchases online is convenient, and many people in your community likely shop online as part of their regular routines.
Your school can use this trend in your fundraising strategy by exploring online shopping fundraisers.
Online shopping fundraisers help diversify your school’s revenue streams at no additional cost to you or your supporters. Plus, while many school fundraisers like events or product sales are seasonal, online shopping can bring in funds to support your school year-round.
To help your school get started, this guide will walk through all of the key components of online shopping fundraisers for schools, including:
- Online School Fundraisers: Frequently Asked Questions
- Online Shopping Fundraisers for Schools: 4 Steps to Get Started
- Exploring Online Shopping Fundraisers for Schools with ShopRaise
At ShopRaise, we empower schools, nonprofits, and community organizations by turning everyday purchases into a force for good. Throughout our years of experience, we’ve set up effective shopping fundraisers for hundreds of schools. School administrators, teachers, and parent volunteers can easily promote these fundraisers, track results, and bring in funds year-round. Let’s get started!
Online fundraising for schools follows many of the same principles as nonprofit fundraising. However, there are some unique considerations that apply specifically to school fundraising, so do your research and make sure that parents, teachers, and administrators are on the same page before you launch any fundraiser.
Let’s walk through some frequently asked questions about online school fundraisers to help you choose the right option for your school.
How can I raise money for my school?
Your school can raise funds in a variety of ways depending on your resources, community connections, and preferences. Some of the most popular options include:
- Product fundraisers. Product fundraisers recruit students, staff, and volunteers to sell items in their community to earn funds for the school. These products can range from coupon books to cookie dough to mattresses, and supporters can place orders using paper forms or an online portal.
- Event fundraisers. Whether in-person, virtual, or hybrid, event fundraisers bring the community together while bringing in revenue from ticket sales, purchases during the event, and additional donations. Common school fundraising events include auctions, carnivals, talent shows, family picnics, and fun runs.
- Matching gifts. Offering a matching gifts option to supporters who make monetary donations allows your school to essentially double many of those donations. When a community member whose employer matches donations to K-12 schools contributes and submits a match request, their employer will give the same amount to your school as the supporter did.
- Online shopping fundraisers. In an online shopping fundraiser, supporters make purchases at their favorite online retailers as they normally would, and a percentage of the cost goes to your school. This strategy works well to supplement other fundraising efforts, providing ongoing revenue between product and event fundraisers.
Your school can use any or all of these fundraising strategies together to provide your community multiple opportunities to get involved and show their support. Weigh the benefits of each option to choose the right combination of fundraisers for your school’s needs.
Are there any no-cost fundraising ideas for schools?
Many school fundraisers have upfront costs such as purchasing supplies and renting venue spaces. For your fundraiser to succeed, you’ll need to bring in more revenue than you spent. However, online shopping fundraisers have no costs to your school or your supporters. All funds come from purchases supporters are already making, and your school can sign up for free.
How much do schools make from fundraisers?
How much you earn will depend on the type of fundraiser you run. Event fundraisers in particular have the potential for a high ROI but require careful planning up front to make this happen. Matching gifts are lucrative as long as supporters are aware that they’re eligible. And the success of product fundraisers depends heavily on participation rates from students, parents, and community members.
In the case of online shopping fundraisers, each individual contribution will likely be small. But over time, the revenue adds up to make a significant difference for your school. Once you launch the fundraiser, make sure to spread the word to supporters and periodically remind them to shop for your cause.
As mentioned, online shopping fundraisers are easy to run all year long after initial setup. But first, your school will first need to choose an online shopping fundraising program and spread the word.
With effective marketing and data tracking, online shopping fundraisers can be reliable revenue streams between your school’s other fundraisers. Read on to learn more about how you can set your online shopping fundraiser up for success.
Partner with an online shopping fundraiser program
Different online fundraising platforms specialize in different kinds of fundraising organizations, so you’ll first need to find one that serves schools. Additionally, schools should look for shopping fundraiser providers that are partnered with relevant online retailers.
Instead of requiring supporters to go out of their way to contribute, online shopping fundraisers meet supporters where they already are for convenient giving. So, consider what online purchases your supporters are likely to make anyway based on common needs within your school community. For example, if many families at your school have pets, look for a program that partners with businesses that these families probably buy from often, like Chewy and PetSmart.
Since this is a partnership between the online shopping program and your school, you should be able to readily rely on the program for help setting up your fundraiser. After receiving onboarding support, you’ll want to be able to hit the ground running, so it’s important that your shopping program gives you all the tools you need for success. Also, consider whether the program manages the business relationships required to bring in contributions or has your school handle these negotiations internally.
Market your online shopping fundraiser early and often
While online shopping fundraisers are mostly self-sustaining once they’re up and running, supporters need to know that your fundraiser is happening and how to participate. Spread the word across multiple platforms, including:
- Your school’s website. Parents and community members who want to support your school will first look to your website for opportunities to get involved. Dedicate a page to your shopping fundraiser and include links to download the necessary app or browser extension.
- Social media. Social media has a wide reach as parents of current and former students, community members, faculty, staff, and former students likely follow your school’s accounts. All of them might be interested in supporting your shopping fundraiser, so create and share posts explaining how to get involved.
- Email marketing. Email is one of the most popular methods for schools to communicate with parents, faculty, and staff. Send messages to your entire mailing list explaining what online shopping fundraisers for schools are and providing instructions to get started, complete with links to your school’s fundraising page.
- Text messaging. Text messages provide a quick way to get in touch with your supporters. Keep your texts short and to the point, and include a link to your fundraiser’s landing page.
- Flyers. Design an eye-catching fundraising flyer and send a copy home with each student to reinforce the message about your shopping fundraiser. You can also hang up flyers in high-traffic areas of the school building, like the front lobby and cafeteria, and include a QR code so supporters can get started.
Sending messages across several marketing channels creates multiple touch points, each of which is an opportunity for a supporter to answer your call to action and sign up for your online shopping fundraiser.
Provide updates and thank supporters for giving back
Your communication with supporters shouldn’t end after they make a few purchases on behalf of your school. Encourage supporters to continue helping your school by providing updates on how much has been raised through the online shopping fundraiser and what those funds are going to support.
Some supporters may become discouraged when they see that their contributions on each purchase are small. But by informing them of the fundraiser’s impact as a whole, you can demonstrate how each purchase adds up to make a real difference.
Supporters want to know their efforts matter, and communicating the impact of their contributions can help your school retain their support year after year. Always remember to thank individual supporters and your community as a whole for participating in your online shopping fundraiser. Make sure your fundraising platform lets you view your contributors, so you can send thank you messages and start building a support base.
ShopRaise is a free platform that supports online shopping fundraisers for schools, nonprofits, and community organizations. Supporters can contribute directly to your school as they make everyday purchases online at any participating retailer using the ShopRaise app or browser extension.
How It Works
Whether your school is brand new to online shopping fundraisers or participated in Amazon Smile before its discontinuation and is considering how to fill that space in your fundraising plan, ShopRaise is a user-friendly fundraising option on both the organizational side and the supporters’.
Before your supporters can start fundraising, set up ShopRaise for your school with these steps:
- Sign up for ShopRaise. The experts at ShopRaise will walk you through a simple onboarding process, handle all necessary business negotiations for you, and create a branded landing page for your school.
- Spread the word. ShopRaise will also design marketing materials that you can use to supplement your efforts to promote your fundraiser across your school’s communication channels.
- Track results. Once your supporters start shopping, use ShopRaise’s analytics tools to access real-time reports so you can thank your top shoppers individually and encourage your community to continue participating in your fundraiser.
ShopRaise aims to make getting started and running your online shopping fundraiser as easy for your school as possible. See how everything works in a free demo, and get any and all questions you might have answered by the ShopRaise team.
To start fundraising for your school, your supporters will need to:
- Download the ShopRaise browser extension and mobile app. Supporters can contribute to your school from anywhere and on any device they prefer to use for online shopping.
- Shop at participating retailers. When using ShopRaise, shoppers pay the same prices and have access to the same discounts they would otherwise—the only difference is using the ShopRaise app or browser extension to make those purchases.
- Your cause earns. Supporters can log in to their ShopRaise accounts to examine their past transactions and see how much they’ve contributed over time.
While your school will be able to see each shopper’s name and fundraising total on your end, ShopRaise protects supporters’ privacy by not sharing additional purchase information—only the shopper will know exactly which items they bought.
Benefits of Using ShopRaise for Online School Fundraising
ShopRaise stands out from other platforms for school fundraising by offering unique benefits such as:
- Branded pages. Supporters will know they’re supporting your school when they access your branded landing pages on both desktop and mobile.
- Access to custom marketing materials. Use branded emails, flyers, social media posts, web banners, and more from ShopRaise to promote your online shopping fundraiser easily.
- Real-time reporting. Cultivate supporters and maximize their contributions by using ShopRaise’s analytics tools to collect and monitor data in real time.
- Flexibility. While some fundraising platforms cater only to schools or only to nonprofits, ShopRaise serves a variety of organizations. Sports teams, community groups, faith-based organizations, charities, and schools of all types and sizes have successfully raised funds with ShopRaise, adding to a proven track record that your school can trust.
In addition to the legacy online shopping fundraiser offering, ShopRaise added a Gift Card Store to the platform in early 2023. Supporters can buy digital gift cards through the ShopRaise app to more than 200 businesses, use them for online or in-person purchases, and forward them to friends and family members as gifts. Approximately 5.5% of each fundraising gift card purchase goes directly to your school, providing shoppers with even more ways to contribute.
Online Shopping Fundraisers for Schools: The Bottom Line
Once your school’s online shopping fundraiser is up and running, remember to continue marketing and tracking results so you can bring in funds year-round. If you have more specific questions about how your school can get started, the experts at ShopRaise can assist and help you make the most of your fundraiser.
For more information on online shopping fundraisers, check out these additional resources:
- Passive Fundraising: How to Earn Extra Revenue [+ 5 Ideas]. Learn more about shopping fundraisers and other passive fundraising programs that your school can try.
- Ethical Shopping | How to Change the World With Your Wallet. Discover another popular shopping trend—making a positive impact through individual purchases—and how your school can incorporate it into your fundraising efforts.
- Getting Started With Team Fundraising (+7 Fundraising Ideas). Explore fundraising strategies and ideas that are particularly useful for your school’s sports teams, clubs, and student organizations.