Online Shopping Program Partnerships: 5 Questions to Ask

Online Shopping Program Partnerships: 5 Questions to Ask

As a nonprofit, partnering with a for-profit business might seem counterintuitive at first glance. However, a cross-sector partnership can be a mutually beneficial and successful venture. Specifically, your nonprofit can access a wealth of long-term benefits by partnering with an online shopping program.

In this article, we’ll discuss why nonprofits like yours might partner with an online shopping program and the questions you should ask before sealing the deal.

What is an online shopping program partnership?

An online shopping partnership between a business and a nonprofit, also called a shop for a cause program, is a type of corporate partnership that allows your organization to raise funds when your supporters shop online.

Your organization might already have a few corporate sponsorships with local or even national businesses. Typically, these partnerships can provide your nonprofit with great sources for event funding, workplace giving, and volunteer recruitment. On the other side, the business that sponsors you gets the following benefits:

  • A reputation boost for supporting worthwhile causes in the community
  • Increased employee engagement
  • Marketing opportunities to get their business in front of your nonprofit’s audience
  • The potential to bring in new customers

Perhaps you’ve partnered with local retailers or restaurants to host a joint event or a gift card fundraiser. Think about building off of that model. These techniques are great ways to get people in the door who may not have known about your nonprofit. But what about when the event or fundraiser ends? How do you stay relevant to new supporters? There is no better way to accomplish that than with online shopping!

If this sounds daunting, 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 choose to manage your program. It may take as little as twenty minutes for the initial setup and an hour or two of monthly communication to promote the program. It can take much more time depending on the service you choose 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 to 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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