5 Ways Nonprofits Can Use Ecommerce Effectively

Ways Nonprofits Can Use Ecommerce

Nonprofits have, for a long time, relied on fundraising and donor support. But, decreasing donor funding is forcing them to rethink some strategies. They must look for extra sources of income to continue operating. And, that means turning to commercial ventures to raise money.

One viable platform is the use of e-commerce. There are tons of opportunities available in the online space. And the best way to achieve success is to have the right strategies.

Our article looks at ways nonprofits can use e-commerce effectively. Let’s dive into it.

It Starts With a Solid Business Strategy

The nonprofit teams have to have a paradigm shift. It is no longer about depending on what the donors can give to the nonprofit. Now it is about making concerted efforts to join the crowded commercial sector. The organization will be competing for business with all the other profit-making companies.

There are specific areas you will need to cover in coming up with a business strategy.

  • Products or service offerings.
  • The platform you will use to set up shop. There are tons of options including Shopify, Woocommerce, Magento, and Bigcommerce. Whichever one you go for should provide convenience for both you and the customers. Start by understanding exactly what you need and then shop around. Focus on factors like payment options and the checkout processes. Other important features are integrations with other platforms and security.
  • Proper market research covering target audience, competitor analysis, and the economic landscape.
  • Determine the sales and marketing strategies.
  • Financial plan.

Once you have all the information, it becomes easy to develop a business plan. This will be the guide to all the activities you undertake.

What Are You Selling and At What Price

Whatever you offer should align with your vision and goals. Let’s say the organization works around environmental sustainability. Selling recycled or sustainable handicrafts would tie into the goals.

But, you can’t go into anything that damages the environment. That means, for example, plastic products cannot be part of your offering.

When deciding on products to sell, a good idea would be to go for a niche product. Even if you must sell the usual mugs, bags, or t-shirts, look for a differentiating factor.

Unique, handmade products are more profitable than mass-produced ones. When communicating with audiences, the selling point should be product exclusivity. If you are selling branded items, work with a graphic designer to come up with something unique.

Ways Nonprofits Can Use Ecommerce

The other area you need to focus on is pricing. Part of the research should cover this part. It would not be a good idea to outprice yourself out of the market. Even if the money is going to a good cause, no one wants to feel like the organization is exploiting them.

Factor in all the costs of the items, including logistics. Only then can you put a workable profit margin on the items.

Think of the Marketing Strategies

We will explore marketing in a little more detail. It plays a critical role, which can determine the success or failure of the eCommerce venture.

Nonprofit organizations for marketing tend to gravitate towards creating visibility. The aim is to attract funding and build long-term relationships with stakeholders.

Digital marketing platforms raise online visibility. They can also help build credibility for the nonprofit. The communication tends to be around messaging that evokes compassion, empathy, or sympathy.

Ways Nonprofits Can Use Ecommerce

The aim is to reach the emotional part of the audience. In this way, they will feel the urge to support the organization.

For e-commerce purposes, communication has to change. The underlying basis should remain the same. That is to get people to support the organization. But this time, the teams will be selling a product or service.

It all comes down to taking the art of persuasion a notch higher. The teams must convince the audiences to buy their products and not the competitor’s.


Digital nonprofit marketing has a lot of advantages. There are tons of free and cost-effective marketing opportunities. These include:-

  • The organization’s website offers tons of digital marketing opportunities. The digital marketing team can use content marketing, link building, SEO, and video content.
  • Social media platforms can reach millions of people. Link all the accounts to the organization’s website. It is an excellent way to get traffic and increase online visibility.
  • PPC marketing to get people to the organization’s website. Do take advantage of platforms like Google for nonprofits. They avail up to $10000 worth of advertising value on Google Ad grants.

Email marketing is inexpensive and allows for proper targeting. Adding a subscribe form to the website is an excellent way to get leads.

Take Advantage of Marketing Plugins

There are tons of plugins to help with nonprofit digital marketing. Let’s take the example of WordPress. Some noteworthy extensions include:-

  • Jetpack to check website statistics and publish content
  • Yoast SEO to ensure proper optimization of blog posts
  • Justwrite to help with content creation
  • Woocommerce brings tons of e-commerce functionalities. These include payment options, themes, and custom configurations
  • Mail chimp for email marketing, and so much more.

Expand Your Marketplace

A good idea is to expand the marketplace. Think outside of your website or social media platforms. Placing your products on sites like Amazon, and eBay can increase brand visibility. Facebook marketplace is another excellent avenue.

Sign up on platforms like AmazonSmile. The platform donates a part of the sales to charities. Create awareness amongst your online audiences that you are on the platform.

In that way, they can choose you as their charity of choice. So, every time they shop on Amazon, the money comes to your organization.

Final Thoughts

Nonprofits can diversify their funding sources with eCommerce. The reality is reliance on donations may not be enough to sustain them. The charities must find more sources of funding to continue normal operations.

To use eCommerce effectively, the non-profit must have a solid business strategy. A key area of focus is in marketing. Creating product awareness will now be a major component. This is unlike before when the focus would be on brand awareness.

The ultimate goal is this. You want people to understand that by buying the products/services, they will be supporting a good cause.

Further reading


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