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E-Commerce For Nonprofits

by Andy | March 27th, 2023

Can nonprofit organizations have an e-commerce store? The answer is yes, why not. Rather, operating an e-commerce store provides a platform to earn profit that a nonprofit can use for its mission.


Don’t be hesitant to have an e-commerce store. In this article, we are going to discuss the pros and cons of a nonprofit having an e-commerce store.


Can Nonprofits Sell Merchandise?


There are many reasons nonprofits should consider having an e-commerce store.

  1. Source of funding: Nonprofits’ work is based on their funding from donations, which fluctuates. Sometimes, they have a lot and at other times they don't have enough to run the system. In this situation, it’s better to have a steady source of income in the form of an e-commerce store.
  2. Lack of dependency on others: When, for some reason, other types of funding decline, nonprofits continue to work if they have a platform to earn profit in the form of e-commerce.
  3. Free cash and assets: Most of the grants and donor funds lock cash into programs and different activities. These restrictions leave a lot of nonprofits handicapped, unable to grow and pay expenditures. This e-commerce for nonprofits acts as a form of asset and cash that they can use freely.


Hence, e-commerce for nonprofits is a method to diversify their income. However, there are certain rules and regulations that nonprofit organizations need to follow to be compliant with tax exemption.

E-commerce For Nonprofits: Essentials


In today's competitive fundraising world, many nonprofits are getting creative to have their e-commerce stores diversify their funds. As the grant and individual funding graphs are never stable, it is wise to have an innovative funding solution. Online e-commerce for nonprofits brings them year-round revenue. In addition to the main benefit of generating revenue, online e-commerce for nonprofits can bring some other perks. 

  • Making your nonprofit visible: 

It's a fact that nonprofits are facing more competition than ever before. More organizations are trying to be visible to grab a larger chunk of donations. An online store is a definite way to make your nonprofit visible. It helps to spread a more powerful message about how your nonprofit works. You create brand awareness among the public.

  • Improving SEO: This is a real benefit of creating online e-commerce for nonprofits. Around 75% of searches on the internet start on Google, and of these, 67% click on the first five searches. Websites with a high SEO ranking appear higher in the search results, getting more clicks. A quality online store is one of many effective strategies that can improve your SEO ranking. Not only will it encourage shoppers to click on your merchandise, but it will also give them a chance to go through other pages of the site too. This extra activity helps improve your ranking in search engines.
  • Gather potential donor information: Your online store can act as a lead-generation machine for your nonprofit. When people buy items from your online store, it’s easy to collect their contact information. You can follow up with them and add them to your donor database. Even those who make small purchases are likely to be interested in your mission and vision. It gives you a chance to educate, engage, and motivate them to donate to your cause.
  • Consistent revenue: One main purpose behind creating online e-commerce for nonprofits is, of course, revenue generation. A steady income can support a nonprofit all year. Also, online stores are an easy and cost-effective strategy for nonprofits to sell their merchandise.

Best E-Commerce Practices

  1. High-quality images: The foundation of an online store rests on appealing images. 67% of online shoppers are of the view that images are more reliable than customer reviews or product descriptions. Hence, the key to online e-commerce for nonprofits relies on high-quality images. It's good to stick to your style rather than relying on third-party images. Make sure you cover multiple angles of your product while taking images. As the customers cannot touch the product, detailed images help them better understand the nature of the products.
  2. Simply a navigation bar: While creating your store webpage, keep in mind to make things simple. In the user experience, cognitive lead is the amount of processing power anyone needs to use your website. The higher the cognitive lead, the tougher it is for users to scroll through your webpage. They might end up leaving the site and never coming back to it. So, the key is to keep your navigation bar simple to allow users to move easily from one product to another.
  3. Elaborate product demos: Product demos are a good way to display your products and boost sales. Instead of simply putting up product images, put up engaging videos. This may help inform an average buyer about whether or not they want the product.
  4. Don’t force buyers to create their accounts: One of the best practices of e-commerce for nonprofits is to allow shoppers to have a guest checkout. Don't force them to create an account, as it is going to increase your shopping cart abandonment. Just send shoppers a confirmation email using their email addresses.
  5. Send reminder emails: Whether shoppers have abandoned the shopping cart or not bought from your site for quite some time, use their email address to send reminder emails. This keeps e-commerce for nonprofits fresh and relevant in customers’ minds. Ask for their feedback about what led them to abandon the cart.
  6. Add product descriptions: Along with images, people pay much attention to product descriptions. Focus on writing quality descriptions to engage shoppers.
  7. Improve website responsiveness: Optimize your website’s responsiveness and maximize its performance. Getting rid of unnecessary page elements and reducing the size of images are two steps among others to improve your website.
  8. Get mobile optimization: 30-40% of internet users in the US use their mobile phones to make purchases. So, to get your online e-commerce for nonprofits targeting maximum audiences, get it mobile optimized.




E-commerce for nonprofits is inevitable in today's world. They are consistent support to your organization and keep your mission running independently of other funding. There are so many features and options you need to consider before choosing an e-commerce platform for your nonprofit. Always try to facilitate people through your online store, making it a way to highlight your nonprofit mission as well as a way to generate funds.