Fundraising in an Online Shop

Ready to raise a little hell, er… funds? Many people are turning to online shops as a way to fundraise these days: either to tie in a meaningful charitable component to their existing store, or to reward project backers with a tangible gift. If this is something you’re thinking of doing, we have a few points for you to think on as you begin.

Decide before donating

If you’re a traditional product-based business looking to donate to causes you believe in, that’s a mighty big heart you got there. We love it! Before you start promoting your fundraising plan, think through some logistics:

  • How often will you make donations? Maybe it’s at the time of each relevant sale, or on a quarterly basis?
  • What percentage of your sales will be donated? This can be public or private info, but it’s important to decide on a number, and make sure that it fits within your margins. You still have to find a way to cover materials!
  • Will your donation plan apply to specific products, or the entire shop?
  • Is your donation tax-deductible? Best to keep receipts and check with your friendly neighborhood tax professional on this.

The pledge drive model

If you’re like me, you grew up listening to a certain public radio station because your dad didn’t let you switch it off, even in the middle of the seemingly never-ending (reality check: two weeks long) fundraising drive. But here’s the important thing I learned: people love to give a donation in exchange for a free gift! If your real project is a podcast, event, or other ephemeral experience, you might set up shop to raise money in exchange for some merch.

  • We can’t stress it enough: make sure you’re pricing items so your costs are covered in addition to meeting your fundraising goals!
  • Take advantage of Homepage text and custom pages to share the story of your main event, and explain why people should want that t-shirt with your logo on it.
  • Cover a range of prices, so there’s something for everyone.

Like, Comment, and Subscribe

If your fundraising is for an ongoing need (anything from your living expenses to fighting racial injustice in America) consider setting up a Subscription page specifically for this purpose. The funds won’t be tied up in product sales, and because the payments will recur monthly, you can make fundraising or donations a regular habit.

As you decide on a fundraising format and make a case to your audience, remember that every financial situation is unique. Each person has their own priorities, and they may be splitting their focus across a few pressing issues. Just as you’re hoping customers understand that your prices need to be a little higher to make room for a donation, understand that not everyone can pitch in, even for a great cause. A little compassion goes a long way.

Sarah Anderson

Marketing at Big Cartel. Loud talker, maker at City of Industry. Semi-professional aunt. Pretty psyched about all of it.

Make a store & sell your art with Big Cartel. It’s easy.

Sign up