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How to Set Up a Successful Online Store for Fundraising


Those new to the nonprofit world may be surprised to learn that creating an online merchandise store for nonprofits is a common (and excellent) way to bring in funds for your mission. While donations and membership fees will always be a main source of income, offering a variety of products for sale on your nonprofit website can really boost your numbers. 

In this guide, we will share how an online store for your nonprofit can benefit your organization through both sales and increasing brand recognition. We also offer helpful suggestions on the kinds of merchandise to offer, and tips and tools for successfully managing your online store. 

Let’s go!

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Why Start an Online Store?

First and foremost, as with any for-profit business, you want your nonprofit organization to diversify your revenue sources and generate extra income. Of course fundraising campaigns, donations, fees, and events are important, but they are not always consistent. Unlike a fundraiser, buyers can purchase merchandise any time of the year, and these purchases can fill in the income gaps during slower donation periods. 

online-fundraising-store-what-to-sellAnthony is ready to learn about setting up an online store.

In addition, selling branded items for your nonprofit is an excellent way to spread the word and increase brand recognition as well as brand loyalty. 


What to Sell

Now that you know how an online store can benefit your organization, let’s take a look at some of the products you can offer. 

Branded Merchandise

The possibilities for branded nonprofit merchandise to sell in your online fundraising store are almost endless, but should be catered toward your target audience. For example, if your organization works for an older population, it would make more sense to offer things like mugs and calendars rather than toys. Here is a list of just some of the branded merchandise you can offer for sale to your supporters:

  • Apparel like t-shirts or other clothing (sweatshirts, pants, polo shirts, or hats)

  • Coffee mugs, travel cups, and water bottles

  • Stationary and pens

  • Bumper stickers or window stickers for vehicles

  • Calendars and planners

  • Luggage tags

  • Pins

  • Pet toys

  • Stuffed animals

  • Children’s toys 

  • Reusable canvas shopping bags

  • Mobile phone accessories

Pro Tip: Before offering branded merchandise, be sure that you have a logo worth sharing. If you do not have a design team, then outsource this job to a professional. This messaging will represent your organization so you want it to be clean, attractive, and engaging to the eye. 

Sponsorship Packages

Many organizations use sponsorship packages to motivate supporters. This is when a nonprofit company offers some reward for a donation. This can include signage at events, advertising space in a periodical, or even a meet and greet with important or celebrity members. Donors sign up for sponsorship at a certain level, and will then receive the series of rewards specified for that level. 

Product Donations

A growing trend is to package donations as an item that donors are purchasing, to make the impact obvious. This can also lend a bit of fun to an online fundraiser or everyday donation, since people like to "shop" for things they can visualize.

For example, if you run an animal shelter, you can advertise a birdhouse on your online store for $30. This does not mean that the donor will receive the birdhouse, only that their donation contributes to the purchase of one. Be sure that you stipulate this in the product description. 

Pro Tip: Before you start selling, be sure to investigate the appropriate tax laws for your state. If you need to charge sales tax on your products, be sure to calculate this ahead of time to save trouble. 


Tips for Running Your Online Store

Once you have a grasp on what you want to sell, it is time to set up your store! Here are a few things to remember when creating your site:

Do Not Forget About Shipping Costs

Unlike a brick and mortar store, an online store will have to add on the cost of post and packaging. You will need to consider where your main audience is based, and how much it costs to ship to this location. You will also need to decide if your store will deliver internationally. Depending on costs and amount of interest it may be too much of a hassle, and expense, for your organization to deal with. Crunch all the numbers before you launch. 

Follow Up

Even if the buyer did not purchase a physical item (perhaps they made a donation or bought a sponsorship package), it is still gratifying to receive something through the mail. Whether you send a thank you letter or a small gift, be sure to acknowledge their purchase in some way. 

online-fundraising-store-dedicated-toolsSalma is feeling great about her online store setup so far!

Detailed Product Descriptions

Be sure that you are very clear when writing product descriptions. Ideally, delegate this task to the best writer on your team, or even outsource to a professional copywriter. You want to be a bit "salesy" here and encourage orders with engaging copy. 

It is also important to be clear on what the purchaser will receive. For example, if selling a sponsorship package, make sure that the buyer understands exactly what their package offers as far as rewards. And if you create a "donation item", you need to make sure that it is clear the item is being purchased for the purpose of donation and that they will not be receiving the item. Clear writing will guard against the potential need for returns or refunds later. 

Quality Photos

A picture can be worth a thousand words. You want the images accompanying your merchandise to be the absolute best representation of the item. Your branded products should be photographed to best effect (possibly being modeled by one of your staff or volunteers), with effective lighting and an eye toward color contrast and staging. 

When choosing an image for donations, look for something that creates an emotional impact. You want to encourage your donors to give now. Think appealing dog photos for an animal shelter, for example. Or if you run a charity to support a children’s hospital, use an image of a nurse or doctor interacting kindly with a small child and their parent. 


Dedicated Tools for Your Online Store

There are many websites and platforms that offer support tools for online stores, and some that are specifically designed for nonprofits. Here we will explore several options and what they offer to your organization.


Springly (that’s us!) is dedicated specifically to the needs of nonprofits and, as such, our online store platform is designed to make online fundraising a breeze. It is fast (can be created in under five minutes) and easy (simply follow a series of simple directions to get started). 

Springly, outside of being a tool for your online store, is an all-in-one solution for nonprofit management. With features like CRM, membership/donation management, and a full accounting suite, you have everything you need to manage your nonprofit efficiently. 

Springly is easy to use and available for all types of nonprofits. 

Order My Gear

The OMG platform offers a variety of solutions for online stores, including an option for online fundraising stores. Secure payment processing and a variety of sleek store options are available to boost donations and fundraising drives. Their sales team will guide you toward the set up that best suits your organization. 

online-fundraising-store-final-thoughtsCorinne is writing down the tools she's interested in!


This is a platform you can use to build your online store in just minutes. It can then be linked from your organizational website for easy access. There is a Simple Store and Pro Store version. The former is a free option that may do for some smaller nonprofits, churches, or schools. In fact, DoJiggy gives you the option to create sites specifically for school fundraising goals. Payments are processed through Stripe, a trusted company. 


Wix can help you create a fully customized store to boost your business. They offer inventory management, a mobile management app, secure checkout, automatic sales tax calculation, live chat with customers to your site, and any number of other benefits to make online store management simple and easy. However, they do not offer live support for their customers, instead using a ticketing and callback function to resolve issues. 


A well-known platform, Shopify allows their customers to create an online store using one of 81 mobile optimized motifs (10 of which are free). They offer loads of features, including integrated marketing tools, cart recovery, unlimited product addition, custom reports, and social media distribution. However, there are a number of plan levels, and not all features are available on the lower-tier options. For example, custom reports are only available on the most advanced plan. Read the plan details carefully if you decide to sign up. 


Final Thoughts

Creating an online store for your nonprofit is an essential way to diversify your revenue streams and build your brand and is the perfect way to augment existing popular fundraisers. But do not panic, with the tools and technology available from nonprofit solutions like Springly, you can build and manage an effective nonprofit sales website with very little effort. Decide what products make sense for your organization to sell, take some photos, write some copy, and then choose the tools that offer what you need to get started. Your nonprofit will be on its way to increased profits and amplification of your message to the world. 

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💡How can I raise money digitally?

The best way to raise money digitally is to create a site for your organization using a platform designed for handling fundraising and donations. This will allow your nonprofit to receive secure payments, manage inventory, and track financial data. Find out more. 

🔑 What makes a good fundraising website?

A good fundraising website is engaging, simple-to-navigate, and explains things concisely. It will also offer a variety of options for their supporters: the purchase of merchandise, donation plans, and sponsorship packages for larger donors. Find out more. 

📝What can I sell to raise money online?

There’s almost no limit to what you can sell online to raise money for your organization. Branded merchandise is always popular; you can put your logo on any number of items from apparel to stuffed animals. You may also sell experiences like weekend trips, or sightseeing tours. Sponsorship packages allow you to offer a wide variety of benefits to donors at all levels. Find out more.  

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