If your organization relies mostly on selling products to raise funds, the most important decision a fundraising coordinator will make is choosing which products to sell. Before you get wrapped up in the details of coordinating volunteers and tracking orders you have to stop and take a look at the big picture.
Any successful business owner will tell you that knowing their customer is key to success. The same goes for a fundraising drive. It is most likely your customers will be friends and fa mily of your organization’s members; understanding who these people are will help you decide on the appropriate fundraiser.
1. Understanding your Customer
Observe – It can be as simple as knowing your community and your own shopping habits.
Survey – Hand out a simple survey to members asking where they shop, what activities they do etc.
Ask – Start a conversation, ask your members. Where do they shop? What activities do they like to do? Are they families with small children? Do they buy eco friendly products?
2. Make it Exclusive!
Find a product that no one else in your community is selling. If you have a unique product that members can’t easily get somewhere else you are leaps and bounds ahead of other fundraising groups.
3. Make it Easy
Find products that members will be excited about and WANT to tell their friends and family about. In the day of social media nothing is more powerful than a member posting on their Facebook page: “I am so excited to be selling XX and it’s only available through me.” Online fundraisers have an added advantage when friends and family can easily click and buy on the spot.
4. Think Out of the Box
Once you have decided what you want to sell, you need to figure out how you can make a profit for your fundraising initiative. Ask a local business if you could receive wholesale pricing by placing one bulk order. Local businesses love to support non-profits in their community. Typically companies will give you wholesale pricing anywhere from 25% – 50% off their retail price. You can then sell the product at full retail and keep the profit. Similarly, you can approach local attractions and see if you could receive bulk attraction passes at a discount. You can then sell the passes for the same price people would normally pay but keep the profit.
You can also work with a traditional fundraising company to make the job easier; they will have already selected and sourced a variety of potential fundraising items.
5. The Highest Margin Doesn’t Equal the Highest Profit
Focus more of your energy finding a product that is a good fit with your members vs. the product that offers the largest margins. You’ll make a lot more earning 25% on a product that members are excited to sell, and will sell in more volume, then you will on an item with a 50% margin that no one is interested in.
6. Provide a Variety of Choices
You can always run more than one fundraising program at a time. You can offer your members a variety of products so they can pick one or two choices that they would be excited to sell. It is a great way to try new products and see what the ordering response is like. Keep some of the “sure things” that have worked as fundraisers for your organization in the past, but regularly add something new to keep things interesting and fresh. If you take your time and choose wisely you will be surprised with the returns.
7. Easy Money
Another easy trick is to include a donation form. A simple form asking for donations is ideal for the people who do not want to buy a product and would rather just donate $5, $10, or $20 to your organization. If your organization is able to give tax receipts, even better.
*This article was written by Sarah Stickland, owner of CHILDish, and was published on Volunteer Spot.
Volunteer Spot makes coordinating volunteers easy with free online sign up sheets and scheduling software.