If you work at a nonprofit that continues to be negatively impacted by the pandemic, you understand that having a dip in donations can significantly impact the work you’re able to do. Product fundraisers are a fantastic way to pull supporters into your mission while offering your organization flexible ways to create valuable engagement opportunities.
This type of fundraising works for any cause, primarily because your supporters love receiving something tangible in exchange for their contributions. They feel rewarded for supporting a worthy cause and obtain a great physical reminder of your mission. Plus, if you choose a product that they can use in public, they can help build brand awareness throughout your community.
Now that you’re thinking about creating products to sell for your cause, how can you create ones that people will actually want? To help you get started, we’ll cover some great product ideas that will help you connect with donors and reinforce your brand, including:
- branded apparel
- water bottles and mugs
- tote bags
Whether this will be your first product fundraiser or whether you’ve already run this type of campaign before, you’re sure to find some useful tips below.
Apparel is a classic product idea that nonprofits have turned to for years. Branded t-shirts, hoodies, and hats are all effective options that your supporters will love to add to their wardrobes.
What makes apparel fundraising so great is that its value far outlives your campaign. Take t-shirts as an example, according to a recent blog post by Double the Donation it is an item that is relatively inexpensive to order and easy to ship, making it an effortless way to market your cause. Supporters will spread the word about your cause each time they put on their shirt for a quick trip to the grocery store or go for a walk.
Plus, you can either run an apparel fundraiser as a standalone campaign or pair it up with other fundraising ideas. For instance, a swag bag for a 5K race could be created to encourage people to register or as an additional way to support the event. Or you could encourage people to place their merchandise orders ahead of a conference and then set up a booth where they can pick up their orders. These extra fundraising initiatives can go a long way in boosting your revenue.
To create merchandise that your supporters actually want to buy and to maximize your organization’s fundraising ROI, make sure to follow these proven best practices:
- Center your design around the cause. Remember, one of the major benefits of apparel fundraising is the marketing aspect. Remind people of your cause each time they wear their t-shirt by using your organization’s name, colors, logo, taglines, and other recognizable elements.
- Choose a platform that limits fees. Long gone are the days when you have to spend your fundraising budget on unnecessary fees and inventory costs. Go with a fundraising platform that specializes in helping nonprofits sell merchandise, offers free online design tools and resources, and doesn’t incur inventory costs. That way, you’re not paying for anything that you don’t end up selling.
- Offer quality apparel. The last thing supporters want is to spend their hard-earned money on a t-shirt made of scratchy fabric or a sweatshirt that starts unravelling after just a few wears. That just leaves a negative impression about your organization.
Make it easy for your supporters to decide to buy apparel from your organization with an awesome design they’ll be excited to show off. Don’t turn them away with an uninspired design or outrageous costs. Offer a positive buying experience, so as soon as they place their orders, the bond between them and your cause will be strengthened.
Water Bottles and Mugs
Give supporters something they can use in their everyday lives with a custom water bottle or a mug. Mugs are great for when they need their Monday morning coffee or want to cozy up by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa. And custom water bottles are perfect for going out on a run or to the gym to work out.
Water bottles and mugs don’t provide as much room for complex designs as t-shirts or sweatshirts. For this kind of product stick with something simple like a classic logo and make sure to leverage some of the best practices below:
- Create complementary designs. Chances are, the designs you use on your t-shirts may be too large or too complex to fit on smaller products like mugs and water bottles. However, this doesn’t mean these products have to be drastically different! Leverage the same colors, general imagery, and fonts to create complimentary designs. This creates continuity for your organization’s brand image.
- Go with durable products. For instance, sell a stainless steel aluminum water bottle rather than a flimsy plastic one. These durable products not only have a longer lifespan but they’ll keep liquids hot or cold for hours and the design itself will also last longer. High quality products means custom mugs or water bottles will have an extended shelf life in supporters’ kitchen cabinets.
- Reward loyal supporters. Create a more impactful experience for volunteers and donors by giving them a water bottle or mug for free. If you’re a member-based organization, reward your members with a token of gratitude. They’ll feel appreciated and continue contributing to your cause since they’ll know your organization appreciates them.
Each time someone needs to get their caffeine fix or rehydrate at the gym, they’ll be reminded of your organization. Just put some thought into the design. Make sure it looks just right, so supporters end up with something they love and use everyday.
People are rapidly becoming more aware of their impact on the environment and wondering how they can reduce their carbon footprint. Plenty of grocery stores and department stores have recognized this and now sell tote bags to customers, positioning them as a much better alternative to plastic bags.
Why not get in on the action and create tote bags for your mission? People will be much more excited to buy one if they know the money goes to a good cause.
Here’s some insight into how you can set your organization up for success with this fundraiser:
- Partner with your local grocery and retail stores. Take a new approach to your marketing strategy. Partnerships offer a great way to boost sales and connect with new audiences who might not otherwise come into contact with your cause. It might be a bit more challenging to get approval with chains, but locally-owned stores can easily put your merchandise up for sale. Companies are much more aware of their social responsibility now, and putting these on sale next to the register will be a great way to reinforce a positive image for them.
- Connect the design to your cause. As with any product, make it clear that your organization created it. Infuse branded elements—like your logo, colors, and name—with trendy design elements. You could use intricate, colorful illustrations or go for a minimalist approach by using a single color against the fabric. It’s all up to what best represents your organization. Don’t forget that you can create complementary designs and turn it into a collection, just like with your mugs and water bottles.
Overall, tote bags are an environmentally-friendly, usable, and a popular fundraising idea! Whether they want to carry groceries, gym clothes, or stuff for a day by the pool, supporters can use tote bags in their everyday lives. If you create a great design, they might even buy multiple to support your organization and have a bag on-hand for different activities.
Promotional products have the potential to strengthen relationships with existing supporters and connect your cause to new audiences — all while supplying your organization with the funds it needs to pursue its mission. Put thought behind the types of products you offer and be sure you invest in quality ones. In no time, you’ll connect with new supporters and build trust among your current community.