What is…

What is…

So what is affiliate marketing? And how can nonprofits use it to reach their fundraising goals?

Can everyone remember waaaay back to the beginning of online marketing? When Facebook was just a sparkle in Mark Zuckerberg’s elementary school eye? That’s where our story begins.

In the internet’s infancy, retailers needed to come up with a way to put ads onto websites that would monetize. They didn’t know which websites were going to be cost effective and which would be a waste of resources. So, they married the best concepts from marketing with the science of technology and voila! affiliate marketing was born.

These savvy early adapters created the pay per performance program model: Retailers put ads onto participating websites (generally called publishers by the industry), publishers then drive traffic to the retailer’s websites who in turn pays a commission when a person makes a purchase.

With the advent of social media and the rising popularity of influencers, affiliate marketing is certainly enjoying massive growth. Now when you are reading your favorite travel blog planning your dream vacation there is a discounted link for airfare right on the same page. Legwork be gone!

Fantastic! You get how it works. It’s the nonprofit angle that’s still feeling a little obtuse.

Nonprofits have donors with demographics that are very similar to retailers: that large middle chunk of life when people are living life and making their mark on the world. During that time, they’re also buying a lot of stuff. These days more than others, they are buying most of that stuff online.

Here’s is how we bring it all together. Let’s say you’re having a walk to raise money for your cause. You send an email inviting all of your previous and current donors to the walk. You know they’ll likely need supplies like water bottles, sneakers, and sunscreen. So, you include links to those products in the email. When your donors click on the link to get sneakers for the walk the retailer gives a portion of their purchase price back to your charity.

You are meeting your donor where they already are doing what they already do. You are also delighting your donor because you’ve simplified their to-do list while also providing them a way to make a bigger impact on your shared goal.

And it’s not just a spare change program from the sneaker sale. To give you a sense of scale within the industry take a look at the numbers, there is about a 10% increase in affiliate marketing spending in the US each year.  Some sources pinpoint that number at around the 6.8 billion mark.

That is a LOT of funding that your nonprofit could be earning while also diversifying your revenue stream. Your donors are going to shop. They have already established that they want to support you. Giving them a way to bring the two together is about the coolest thing since sliced bread.

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