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Giving Circle works in the larger ecosystem of the social services sector, the government as well as ordinary citizens. Our blog highlights our thoughts and ideas about our larger vision on how community services can be scaled up in India and celebrates individuals and projects around the country who are shining examples of the Giving Circle methodology.

Wednesday, 20 Oct 2021

6 Steps To Create A Non-profit Online Store

Non-profits and NGOs usually rely on donations and CSR budgets to continue their operations, but this reliance is not always sustainable or wise. One of the ways non-profits can create a sustained stream of funds is to sell merchandise or products. So far, products have been sold during special occasions such as Ganpati, Diwali and Christmas at special fairs and exhibitions. The consumer of these products usually has to go to these exhibitions in person to select and buy their favourite items. However, in today’s digital age, the consumer is spoiled for choice with a large online catalogue, selecting on the basis of reviews from other customers, and next-day delivery at their doorstep. Non-profits also need to find ways to sell their products online if they have to stay relevant in the digital age.

If the prospect of selling products online scares you, don’t worry! Giving Circle can work with your NGO one-on-one to create a unique non-profit online store for you through Jhappi, a brand that markets products made by Indian NGOs!

Help me create a non-profit online store

Here are the steps to create a non-profit online store:

  1. Decide which products to feature
  2. Take attractive pictures of your products
  3. Pick an ecommerce platform or content management service
  4. Choose a logistics partner
  5. Determine the price
  6. Market and promote your products on social media and other websites


Step 1: Decide which products to feature

This may seem simple like a simple task, but it is most definitely not! Every product made by an NGO is precious as it is made with a lot of love and care by beneficiaries. So naturally you may want to put every product in your online store. Unfortunately, not all those products may sell. Also keep in mind that in the online space, your products are competing against those by for-profit companies. Therefore it is important to first figure out which other products are available in the market, and those only those products which are unique and of good quality. This will save time and money by minimising product complaints and/or returns. It will also result in rave reviews for your products!

Here is an example of a great product catalogue by The National Association of Disabled Persons which is being marketed by Giving Circle under Jhappi. Use this as inspiration for creating your own product catalogue.


Step 2: Take attractive photos of your products

A picture speaks a thousand words, so pay special attention to your product photos. Make sure that your products are shown in the best light, literally! Take as many pictures of each product as possible, demonstrating both size and special details. Have them edited by a professional so that they present well to a customer in your online store.


Step 3: Pick an e-commerce platform or content management service (CMS)

In today’s day and age, there are e-commerce platforms for every kind of product and every kind of budget. Each option has its own advantages and drawbacks.

Some of the more popular e-commerce platforms include:

Some of the popular content management services include:

If you are confused about which one is right for you, you are not alone! It will take some time and research to figure out the details and arrive at a choice.


Step 4: Choose a logistics partner

Now that you’ve decided which products to sell and which ecommerce platform or CMS to use, the next important step is to choose a logistics partner. Are you planning to sell your products only in your particular state or will you be shipping India-wide? Are you products above or below 1 kg? How many orders do you think you will fulfill in one month? Will standard packaging do or will you need special wrapping? How much are you willing to shell out for every delivery? The answers to all of these questions will determine which logistics partner you choose. Some of the popular logistics partners include

  • ShipRocket
  • BlueDart
  • Delhivery
  • DHL
  • Ekart
  • FedEx

Keep in mind that each of these delivery partners service certain pin codes. If you wish to cover more pin codes, you may need to have more than one logistics partner.

Giving Circle provides advisory services on which ecommerce platform or CMS will fit your unique requirements and budget. We can also advise on which logistics partner will suit you best. Better still, we can create a customized platform and plan for you.


Step 5: Determine the price

With products, photos, e-commerce platform and logistics partner in place, you will have a good idea about how much it takes to sell your products. Price your products such that you make at least a 30-50% profit on each item. Using this pricing strategy, you may be able to offer some discount on products during promotional periods without hurting your earnings. Keep a track of your sales through the e-commerce platform for important data points which will help you price future products, restock popular items or run promotional campaigns.


Step 6: Market and promote your products through SEO and social media

Now that the nonprofit online store is up and running, it is time to make it known to the world! The first way to do this is to have an SEO (search engine optimization) strategy in place. SEO is a function of digital marketing which helps your site appear higher in search results for Google or any other search engine. The second way to promote your products is through social media. Images of your beneficiaries making the products or videos on how every sale helps a beneficiary will go a long way in creating goodwill and word of mouth for your products. Supports can also post photos with your products and tagging your social media pages and using hashtags to spread the good word!

Following these steps will help you create a nonprofit online store in no time. Decide on a realistic timeline for when you wish to launch your store and work backwards to create a schedule. Giving Circle can help you throughout this process through helpful and timely advice or with digital solutions that will fit your unique needs.


A few words of advice before you go!

Don’t hesitate to compete with for-profit companies. Your advantage is the story of the maker and the goodness you will spread thanks to your work. So make sure you communicate your story effective. But don’t rely compassion selling either! Ensure you’re your products are always of good quality and within reach of the customer.

Even after following all these steps, if you find that you haven’t made the impact you were hoping to, that’s because selling and marketing is a mindset. As NGOs who are selling products, you will have to keep customers at the center of your plans. To help you reach your goals, Giving Circle has created Jhappi which will help you reach the right target audience in a more thoughtful and sustainable manner. Get in touch with us today!

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