Online Shopping Fundraisers for Schools: How To Get Started

Online Shopping Fundraisers for Schools: How To Get Started

Online shopping has risen to new heights of popularity, growing by 44% this past year. Making purchases online is convenient, and it’s likely many people in your community regularly shop online. But what does this mean for your school? In addition to traditional fundraisers, schools can increase their annual revenue by exploring the vast potential of online shopping fundraisers.

Online shopping fundraisers are an often-untapped revenue source that can help diversify your school’s income. While it might sound unwieldy, online school fundraising programs such as online shopping are actually quite straightforward once they’re set up. The only question, then, is how to get started.

To help your school learn more about this efficient fundraising strategy, this guide will explore key components of online shopping fundraisers for schools, including:

  • Overview of Online Fundraising for Schools
  • Online Shopping Fundraisers for Schools: 4 Steps to Get Started
  • Exploring Online Shopping Fundraisers for Schools with ShopRaise

Using technology, our team at ShopRaise empowers charities and schools 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. This provides an additional revenue source that school administrators can launch, then sit back and relax with the confidence that it’ll keep earning year-round. Let’s get started!

Overview of Online Fundraising for Schools

Online fundraising for schools follows many of the same principles as online fundraisers for other nonprofit organizations. However, if you’re unfamiliar with common fundraising strategies or nuances that apply specifically to schools, do your research and get your questions answered before investing in an online shopping fundraiser.

A few common questions schools should know before launching their online fundraising program include:

How can I raise money for my school?

Your school can raise funds in a variety of ways based on your resources, community connections, and other factors. A few common practices schools use to fundraise are:

  • Product fundraisers. Familiar with gourmet popcorn, t-shirt, keychain, cookie dough, and other selling campaigns? Product fundraisers recruit students, staff, and volunteers to sell products to their community to earn funds.

  • Event fundraisers. Consider bringing your wider community to your school by hosting an event such as a carnival, musical, talent show, or other performance. Schools can raise money by selling tickets and through event activities such as raffles and auctions.

  • Online shopping fundraisers. Online shopping fundraisers are considered passive fundraising. Instead of contributing to your school themselves, supporters make online purchases at their favorite retailers like usual and a percentage of the cost goes to your school. This strategy works well as a supplement to other fundraising efforts, providing stable revenue between product and event fundraisers.

Schools don’t need to choose just one method and stick with it. All of these fundraising strategies can be used together to provide your community multiple opportunities to get involved and show their support.

Are there any no-cost fundraising ideas for schools?

Many school fundraisers have upfront costs such as purchasing supplies and renting venue spaces, all of which will need to be earned back during your fundraiser. By contrast, online shopping fundraisers have no costs to either your school or your supporters. All earned funds are pulled from purchases supporters are already making at no additional expense.

How much do schools make from fundraisers?

How much you earn will depend on the type of fundraising you pursue, as well as your community and average contribution levels.
In the case of online shopping fundraisers, each individual contribution may not be large, but over time these contributions add up to impactful revenue. For example, someone purchasing items online that cost $100 may contribute between $2-4 to your cause, but if they continue to make similar purchases monthly, they’ll have earned your school over $100 by the end of the year. That means schools with 100 families can earn up to almost $10,000 in potential income annually with online shopping fundraisers.


Online Shopping Fundraisers for Schools: 4 Steps to Get Started

As mentioned, online shopping fundraisers are easy to run all year long after initial setup (though additional promotion never hurts!). Of course, this means your school will first need to choose an online shopping fundraising program and complete all of the necessary steps to get it up and running.

With the right investment in marketing and promotion, online shopping fundraisers can be reliable streams of revenue that your school can count on between events and product sales. Just be sure to take the time to get off on the right foot with your online shopping fundraiser by taking the following steps:

Research the online shopping fundraiser space.

Different online shopping fundraising platforms specialize in different kinds of fundraising organizations, meaning certain features may be emphasized in one program but absent in another. While the exact online shopping fundraiser for your school will depend on your size and specific needs, most schools should look for shopping fundraiser providers that are partnered with relevant online retailers.

You can find the right online shopping fundraiser technology provider for your school by exploring each programs’ participating retailers. Consider purchases your supporters are likely to make anyway, or the stores available within your community. For instance, if you have a local Walmart that many families use to conduct online grocery shopping, you’ll likely find more success by using an online shopping platform that partners with Walmart.

Instead of requiring supporters to go out of their way to contribute, online shopping fundraisers meet supporters where they already are. This makes the giving process as convenient as possible.

Partner with an online shopping program.

Ask providers questions about their programs and participating retailers, including how much of a time investment managing these relationships will be for your organization. Some online fundraisers such as ShopRaise handle those relationships for their clients, while others require a more hands-on approach.

A few questions you should ask before partnering with an online shopping program are:

  • Are there items my current supporters and potential contributors need in their daily lives?
  • Which retailers sell these items?
  • Do those retailers offer the opportunity to partner?
  • Is there a service that can manage the partnership for me?
  • How much time would it take a staff member to manage this program?

Remember that since this is a partnership, you should be able to rely on your online shopping program for help setting up your fundraiser. Some programs can be set up in under an hour and offer onboarding support that lets your team hit the ground running, while others require more extensive training and regular check-ins.

Market your online shopping fundraiser far and wide.

While these fundraisers are mostly self-sustaining once they’re up and running, supporters need to know what your fundraiser is and how to download the necessary extensions to participate. You can spread the word across multiple platforms, including:

  • Newsletters and direct mail. Get in touch by sending direct mail to your community about upcoming events and fundraisers, including your online shopping fundraising program. Your newsletters also provide space for you to explain in detail what your shopping fundraiser is and how supporters can get involved.

  • Social media. Social media has a larger reach than your email and traditional mail lists. Parents of current and former students, community members, staff, and former students likely follow your accounts and share your posts. With no additional cost to them for participating, all of them might be interested in joining in and supporting your shopping fundraiser.

  • 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, so be sure to share information about your school’s shopping fundraiser in the most obvious place.

  • Email. Email is a one of the most popular ways for organizations like schools to stay in touch with their communities. Through your weekly email newsletter, or in a special shopping fundraiser focused email, your school can explain what online shopping fundraisers for schools are, how they work, and provide instructions to get started, complete with links to your school’s fundraising page.

  • Text messaging. Text is one of the fastest ways to get in touch with your supporters. Condense your message to only the most important points so supporters can understand your school’s fundraiser and how to get involved after a brief skim.

When you spread the word, don’t choose just one channel and stick to it. Sending messages across several 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 an update 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 their contributions on each purchase are small. But by informing them of the fundraiser’s impact as a whole, you can impress upon them how each purchase adds up to often surprisingly large figures.

Supporters want to know their efforts matter, and communicating the impact of their contributions can help your school retain their support year after year. And never forget to say thank you both to individual supporters and your community as a whole. Make sure your online shopping platform lets you view your contributors, so you can send thank you messages and start building a support base.

Exploring Online Shopping Fundraisers for Schools with ShopRaise

ShopRaise is a free platform that supports online shopping fundraisers for schools, clubs, teams, and other charitable organizations. With ShopRaise, schools can enroll in their online shopping platform, then direct supporters to download the mobile and browser apps to start fundraising by shopping at nearly 1,000 stores and retail partners.

Once your supporters start shopping, your school can use ShopRaise’s reporting tools to view how much has been contributed through your online shopping fundraiser, all without spending any more out of pocket.

How It Works

ShopRaise gives schools and other organizations the opportunity to earn up to 10% of funds supporters spend on everyday purchases. The funds raised aren’t extra charges taken out of your supporters’ pockets, but contributions made by ShopRaise, meaning supporters can effectively earn money for your school by completing purchases they were going to make anyway.

For Organizations

Before your supporters can start fundraising, set up ShopRaise for your organization with these steps:

  • Sign up for ShopRaise. Request a demo to see if ShopRaise is right for you and ask all of your lingering questions before signing up.
  • Spread the word. Use ShopRaise’s marketing materials to reach out to supporters on multiple platforms, including email, text, and traditional mail. ShopRaise also helps out by sending their own newsletter that shares specials, coupons, and deals with supporters.
  • Track Results. Once your supporters start shopping, use ShopRaise’s analytics tools to access real-time reports about your fundraising progress.

ShopRaise aims to make getting started and running your online shopping fundraiser as easy for your school as possible, so don’t be afraid to ask questions about the time investment of management and set up—chances are, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the answer.

For Supporters

To start fundraising for your school, your supporters will need to:

  • Download the ShopRaise browser and mobile app. ShopRaise’s app is available for both mobile and desktop, meaning supporters can contribute to your school no matter which device they prefer to make purchases on.
  • Shop at participating retailers. Supporters won’t need to go far to find one of ShopRaise’s nearly 1,000 participating retailers, which include giants such as Walgreens, Best Buy, and even unique services like FedEx or The New York Times.
  • Your Cause Earns. When using ShopRaise, supporters pay the same amount they would otherwise and have access to the same coupons and deals. Without any additional charges, up to 10% of their transaction is contributed to the school of their choice.

Supporters can log in to their ShopRaise accounts to track their progress, examine their past transactions, access deals, and see how much they’ve contributed to your school.

ShopRaise is user friendly and can be set up in minutes. The only obstacle you’ll need to overcome to get your supporters fundraising is educating them on how online shopping fundraisers work by spreading the word through your marketing materials.

Benefits of Using ShopRaise for Online School Fundraising Programs

ShopRaise stands out from other fundraising platforms for school fundraising by offering unique benefits such as:

  • Branded pages. Supporters will have no doubt what organization they’re supporting when they access your school’s fully branded pages on both desktop and mobile. ShopRaise also creates branded marketing materials for organizations, building a cohesive and consistent outreach campaign.
  • Access to custom marketing materials. ShopRaise doesn’t leave organizations to figure out marketing by themselves. Access custom branded emails, flyers, social media posts, web banners, and more from ShopRaise to promote your online shopping fundraiser.
  • Real-time reporting. Cultivate supporters and maximize their contributions by using ShopRaise’s analytics tools to collect and monitor data in real time. Understand what purchases are already being made so you can pursue additional marketing strategies to meet your supporters where they are, fundraising in a way that is convenient for everyone.
  • Scalability. Some online fundraising programs only cater to large organizations, but with ShopRaise, groups of any size can sign up and continue raising money as they grow.

ShopRaise also prides itself on its intuitive interface and quick setup, meaning supporters can create accounts and start fundraising without having to call tech support. But if your organization does need help getting started, ShopRaise’s support team is there to lend a hand with just a quick phone call.

Wrapping Up

Between research, testing demos, and reaching out to supporters, online shopping fundraisers for schools can be an investment of time and resources. If you’re still unsure how your school can get started, reach out to providers to get your specific questions answered.

You can also make use of online resources to better educate your organization as a whole on how online shopping fundraisers work. Here’s a few articles that might just have the answers you need:

  • Fundraising without giving. What is passive fundraising and does it make sense for your organization? Learn about the benefits of passive fundraising to determine how it fits into your school’s next fundraising campaign.

  • Shop to raise all year. The end of the year tends to be when schools earn the bulk of their contributions. But holidays happen all year long, so get started researching how you can earn sustainable fundraising no matter the time of year.

  • App Trends for 2021. How is your organization using technology? Whether you’re an expert in mobile apps or not, your supporters are likely using them for everyday needs, including shopping. Check out what the future holds for trends in app usage and marketing to stay in touch with your supporters.


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