Carrie Cousins

Carrie Cousins has more than 15 years of experience in media, design, and content marketing and is a freelance writer and designer.

May 3, 2022
Published on: GiveWP
2 min read

Does the marketing plan for your nonprofit organization include merchandise or swag? Nonprofit eCommerce can actually help you boost fundraising efforts with items that encourage giving or create demand.

You can create a charity swag store that’s part of your nonprofit website and allows donors and the general public to purchase items and make donations in the same transaction. Additionally, you can use swag for gift items when donors reach certain gifting milestones.

Ready to get started? Here’s a look at all the things you can do it you want to use charity merchandise as a fundraising tool.

Benefits of a Nonprofit Merchandise Store

Charity merchandise is a more practical fundraising option than you might think. Website tools plus on-demand printing and dropshipping make this a fairly easy – and affordable – option. Meaning, you don’t have to order anything in advance and there is nearly no overhead cost. The only cost you encounter or those associated with design and website maintenance, which you need anyway to raise money online.

Swag items also provide longevity and marketing value for your organization. The more items that are out there with your organization name or logo on it, the more general awareness there is for your nonprofit. Think of items such as shirts, hats, and coffee mugs as walking billboards for your nonprofit. People will use and reuse these items for years.

The availability of a takeaway item encourages donors to increase their gifts as well to show pride by supporting organization with an item that they can use. It also keeps donors around, reminding them to give or encouraging them to continue their recurring donation subscriptions. Just remember that if you give an item for a donation, rather than selling them, the item should cost you less than the donor gives.

Finally, some nonprofits even rely solely on merchandise sales to generate revenue, rather than asking for donations. We think that both are better combined. Why not?

Build Your Swag Shop

All you really need for an online swag shop is your logo. You can also ask your board and team to help come up with a great idea for what you want to sell. Engage your leadership team to come up with one to three items that your donor base will appreciate.

Then you can add a swag shop to your WordPress website with ease.

Find a list of tools to help you get started with a full tutorial on how to add a shop to your website. Plus, pair your shop with GiveWP Donation Upsells for WooCommerce to encourage your shoppers to give when they buy as well.

Most nonprofit marketers with some website experience can build a store and add merchandise on their own. This is a nonprofit fundraising plan that you can implement quickly.

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Nonprofit Swag Ideas

The best nonprofit swag items will resonate with your core donor base. While t-shirts are one of the most common items, that’s not always the most practical. (Is it something your donors and supporters would wear?)

There are plenty of different swag items to choose from. For those who are just getting started with an online store, items that don’t have sizing can be a better option. There’s less management for individual items or inventory to worry with because every item is the same.

Popular nonprofit swag items include:

  • Tote bags
  • Coffee cups or mugs
  • Silicone bracelet
  • Lip balm
  • Water bottles
  • T-shirts
  • Baseball caps
  • Phone chargers
  • Notebooks or portfolios
  • Stickers

Your goal when selecting a nonprofit swag item should be visibility. This strategy is most effective when you create an item that people want and will use so that it puts your organization out in the open.

3 Ways to Use Charity Merchandise

You can use charity merchandise in a number of different ways. You can sell items on your website, give them away as part of a campaign, or even use swag as gifts to encourage other forms of nonprofit participation.

1. General Brand Awareness

Charity merchandise is a fantastic tool for creating general brand awareness. When you develop a swag item make sure your logo is large enough to see and easy to understand on the item. You also need to balance logo size with the item itself so that it is something people want to carry with them. Consider a fun design that gets to your organizational mission.

2. Social Hashtag Fundraisers

Swag items can be a great way to generate interest online and on social media. Encourage supports to share their swag items on social media with a dedicated and unique hashtag. You can even turn it into a contest or give supporters a promo code to encourage others to donate or buy items from your charity store.

This is a perfect strategy to use in a social challenge campaign. Learn more about how to set up a social challenge in our detailed tutorial.

3. Donor Gifts

Reward donors with gifts from your charity merchandise collection. You can provide gifts for top donors, for specific donation levels or goals, or even create special items that are only available for donors. The right donor gift can help inspire additional giving or even introduce new donors to your nonprofit organization.

How to Market Nonprofit Swag

If you are planning to offer swag items, people need to know about them. This has to be part of your nonprofits marketing plan if you want to be successful.

Some of the marketing might be natural, particularly if swag items are tied to a campaign or donation levels, but that’s not the only way to generate interest for your charity merchandise store.

  • Send a discount coupon with each donation receipt with a link to your online shop.
  • Include a note with swag purchases to share the item on social media with a specific hashtag.
  • Email donors and past shoppers when new items hit your charity store.
  • Give items to your employees or best ambassadors to wear in public.
  • Add a shop button or link to donation pages on your website.

Start Using Nonprofit eCommerce Today

Charity swag items can be a fun and practical way to generate interest in your nonprofit and help increase revenue. If you have been thinking about adding merchandise for your nonprofit, now is the time to get started.

All you need is a WordPress website, a good idea, and GiveWP tools to get started. Learn more about setting up your store or check out the GiveWP demo website.