What if we told you that there’s a way to combine donor appreciation, fundraising, and effective marketing into one campaign? Product fundraisers are a triple-threat approach to fundraising. Not only are they a great way to raise money, but you can also spread awareness about your cause while giving your donors something tangible in return for their support.
However, before you jump into your product fundraiser, you have an important decision to make: which products you’ll sell.
From branded merchandise to discount cards, there are so many options to offer. To narrow down your choices, take a strategic approach, and select products that best cater to your donors. We recommend the following tips:
- Consult your data.
- Ask your donors directly.
- Seek out products that match your organization’s niche.
With products that cater to your donors’ interests and needs, you’ll be more likely to engage them in your product fundraiser and get them excited about supporting your cause.
Why product fundraising?
If you’re new to product fundraising, you might be curious about its benefits. To begin, here are just a few of the reasons product fundraising can elevate your overall fundraising strategy:
Your products will market themselves.
If you’re offering branded merchandise—such as t-shirts, stickers, or water bottles—you can convert your donors into marketers for your campaign! Donors will spread the word about your campaign and your cause simply by wearing or using their new items.
Furthermore, you can ramp up your marketing by creating a social media campaign. Have your supporters post photos of themselves wearing the merchandise or using the item along with your campaign hashtag. Then, you can repost the entries and give a prize for the winning photo.
It can be integrated into other campaigns.
If your fundraising docket is already full, don’t worry! You can strengthen your existing campaigns by including a product fundraising element. For example, you can use your products as items in your next auction. Or, make your product fundraiser a peer-to-peer event in which your supporters conduct their own merchandise sales on your behalf.
According to 360MatchPro, young donors in particular are more likely to engage in a campaign if their friend or family member is already doing so, making a peer-to-peer approach a great option for younger audiences. Plus, you’ll broaden your potential donor base to those in your supporters’ network who aren’t familiar with your cause yet.
You can give back to your donors.
A product fundraiser allows your donors to simultaneously support a great cause and get something in return! While many donors give just to make a difference, offering them a tangible token of their support will certainly strike a chord with them and help them remember your organization.
With benefits for both your nonprofit and supporters, it’s clear why product fundraisers are such a popular way to earn more for your cause. Now, let’s get into our tips for successfully choosing the right product for your fundraiser.
1. Consult your data.
Your donor database is an invaluable source of information that you should use to inform your fundraising strategy. Here are some of the data points that you should pay particular attention to:
- Presence of children
- Hobbies and interests
- Average gift amount
- Donation frequency
- Peak giving times or seasons
These data points can reveal notable factors that will shape the product selection process. For instance, you might decide against selling school supplies if your donor base is mostly adults without children.
If your information is outdated, or you’re missing key donor data points, consider conducting a data append. A nonprofit data provider will help you acquire additional data from external sources and add it to your database to round out your records.
If you’re fundraising on behalf of a club, team, or school, you can still use data to guide your fundraising. Think about who your stakeholders are, and segment them according to commonalities, such as interests or age. For instance, a university may have different segments for current students, parents of current students, young alumni, and older alumni. Then, they can choose different products for their school fundraiser depending on which group they’d like to reach.
2. Ask your donors directly.
There’s no better way to pick your donors’ brains than by asking them about their preferences! Skip the guesswork, and directly ask your supporters which types of products they’d be interested in purchasing.
The best way to do this is by sending out a survey to your email list or sharing a poll on your social media. Questions you may ask include:
- Out of the following items, which would you be most likely to buy?
- If we were to sell branded merchandise, which types of items would you like to see?
- Which of our past fundraisers have you enjoyed the most and why?
Note any ideas that donors request frequently or any new options you think have potential. Then, you can store these insights in your customer relationship management platform (CRM) so you can target interested donors once your product fundraiser kicks off.
3. Seek out products that match your organization’s niche.
With modern customization technology, the sky’s the limit for creating specialized fundraising products! Don’t let your group or nonprofit’s niche limit you from offering products related to your organization’s mission. Instead, lean into what makes your organization different by offering specialized products that clearly align with your mission or audience.
For instance, a baking club might decide to host a cookie dough fundraiser. ABC Fundraising recommends selling a variety of flavors and then hosting a cookie-making event to double the fundraising potential. For a baking club, this is the perfect choice because the product directly relates to your organization’s purpose.
If you’re an alumni group, try selling branded merchandise from your alma mater. Alumni who are part of your organization likely have a lot of school spirit, meaning they would enjoy sporting some new clothing items or accessories in support of their former school.
Once you’ve decided on your product, it’s time to start fundraising! Partner with a product fundraising provider that can help you acquire, sell, and distribute your products.
Make sure to promote the fundraiser to your donors using a variety of methods, such as flyers, social media posts, and email. Then, after the fundraiser ends, reach out to thank donors and collect any feedback that can make your next product fundraiser even better.