The top 5 questions you need to ask when partnering with an online shopping program

The top 5 questions you need to ask when partnering with an online shopping program

As a nonprofit entity the notion of partnering with a for profit shop might seem like a strange bedfellow at first glance. A deeper dive below the surface will prove that what initially appears as an odd fit can actually yield some of the most reciprocally beneficial and successful of partnerships.

Your charity might already have a few corporate sponsorships with local or even national businesses. Typically, these partnerships can provide great sources for donations, workplace giving, gift matching, as well as an opportunity to find new volunteers. Perhaps you’ve partnered with local retailers or restaurants who host events or sponsor profit shares with your charity. Think about building off of that model.

All of these techniques are great ways to get people in the door and familiarized with your charity on a more meaningful level. Your challenge is to take that opportunity and make it relevant. Capitalizing on the good fortune of someone walking into a shop and connecting with your charity is great. But what about when they leave the shop? That’s where the relevancy component needs to step into play. There is no better way to accomplish that goal than with online shopping.

If this sounds foreign and daunting to you, fear not. It is much more simple than you’d anticipate. Begin by asking yourself these five questions:

1.   Are there items my current supporters and potential donors need in their daily lives?

A resounding YES! Whether it’s a generic brand, top of the line, or a DIY model, everyone needs household items. Think about all of your donors who need window cleaner and paper towels. Let’s move forward with that example.

2.   Which retailers sell these items?

Which stores sell window cleaners and paper towels? Plenty—from neighborhood bodegas to local markets to big box chain stores.

3.   Do those retailers offer the opportunity to partner?

Indeed, many of the retailers who sell window cleaner and paper towels do offer the chance to partner (it’s a little something called Affiliate Marketing and it’s worth $12 billion, but we’ll tell you more about that in a later blog).

4.   Is there a service that can manage the partnership for me?

Yes. There are many options for you in this arena. It all depends on the scope of the program that you’d like to offer as well as the type of retailers you’d like to make available to your supporters and prospective donors.

5.   How much time would it take a staff member to manage this program?

The answer to this question depends largely on how you chose to manage your program. It may take as little as twenty minutes for initial set up and an hour or two of monthly communication to promote the program. It can take much more time depending on the service you chose to manage the partnership. You could build your own proprietary program and dedicate a full-time employee to managing it (but we wouldn’t recommend that route).

We would recommend that you keep things simple. Essentially you are attempting to meet your supporters and potential donors where they are at (buying the window cleaner and paper towels). They are already motivated both give to you and buy their household cleaners…they just need you to connect the dots for them. By doing so you will engage your supporters with the brands they know and trust and provide them with a way to drive funds to your cause without having to pay anything extra or do anything they weren’t going to do anyway.

The end result is a new way for your charity to reach your financial goal by diversifying your revenue stream. It’s the ultimate way to accomplish multiple goals. In leaner times, we’re all looking for ways to cross off our to-do lists with efficiency and peace of mind.

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