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    Affiliate Programs

    A getting started guide for small nonprofits.

    Small nonprofits often devote the brunt of their time and resources to fulfilling their mission. As a result, vital fundraising efforts can sometimes fall by the wayside. Fortunately, there are more ways for nonprofits of all sizes to earn revenue than planning time-consuming fundraisers. One solution is partnering with an affiliate program. 


    For nonprofits, affiliate programs are a method of fundraising that earns your organization additional, unrestricted revenue when your supporters make online purchases through your nonprofit’s partner’s app, link, or browser extension. This means your supporters can shop to support your cause at no cost to them or your nonprofit.


    Benefits of Affiliate Programs

    The right nonprofit affiliate program can bring your nonprofit and your supporters a variety of benefits, including: 


    • Convenience. Find a program that is partnered with retailers your supporters already shop, such as Walmart, Macys, and Walgreens. This means your supporters can help your nonprofit while making purchases they were already planning to at no additional cost. 
    • Year-round revenue. Your affiliate program allows supporters to continually contribute to your nonprofit with every purchase they make at participating retailers. You can slowly earn funding all year long, providing additional income between fundraisers.
    • Access to corporate sponsors. Whether you’re a small nonprofit, a school, club, or other charity, building relationships with multiple corporate sponsors is a time-consuming task. By joining an affiliate network, your program will negotiate and maintain relationships for your nonprofit, allowing you to leverage pre-existing relationships without any additional work.  


    Of course, the biggest plus of affiliate programs is that they don’t cost your nonprofit or your supporters any additional expenses. This means that supporters can effectively earn your nonprofit free money and contribute without deviating from their normal shopping routines. 


    Getting Started with Affiliate Programs

    Before you can reap the benefits of your affiliate partnership, you’ll need to find a program that aligns with your nonprofit’s needs and mission. For most nonprofits, they can get started in three steps:


    1. Research programs. First, look for an affiliate program that specializes in helping nonprofits. Then, review each option’s partnered retailers. Remember, the best affiliate program will have participating retailers that align with your supporters’ everyday shopping needs. Take note of how much the affiliate program will help you get started, and look for a program that will help save your team time while raising funds. The best programs will set up your page and even help create marketing materials, such as website banners and email templates.
    2. Market your program. You’ll need to let your supporters know about your affiliate program to start earning revenue from it. Many supporters will likely be new to using an affiliate service, so make sure your marketing materials provide a detailed explanation of how they can download the right browser extensions and apps. Additionally, make sure to regularly alert your supporters about your program to continue fundraising all year long.
    3. Monitor the results. Once your program is up and running, make sure to track your results so you can figure out how to promote your program to even greater success. Keep in mind that affiliate programs accumulate revenue slowly over time, so don’t be deterred if it takes a little while for your earnings to gain momentum.                                                                                                                                                                                          

    For each affiliate program you consider, don’t be afraid to ask questions and try out a demo to make sure it’s the right fit for your nonprofit. Talk to potential affiliate partners about their marketing support, setup times, and other key factors that will impact your small nonprofit’s ability to start fundraising.


    Written by Korri Piper, Sales and Marketing Consultant & Director of Vendor Relationships at ShopRaise, an online shopping tool that turns everyday shopping into support for your favorite cause. Connect with Korri on LinkedIn.