Posts Tagged ‘company stores’

10 Tips for Setting up a Merchandise Program for your NGO

April 21, 2010

flickr/nataliemaynor

We often get calls from non-profits wanting to get branded products (“merchandise”) to sell as fundraisers. It’s a great idea in theory, but like most things in life, reality can be cruel. We’ve crafted a list of 10 things to consider before launching into a merchandise program to help smooth the bumps along the way.

These points are designed for organizations considering merchandise sales – either directed at end consumers (retail style sales) or directed at internal buyers (e.g. setting up a bulk purchasing program for your different chapters or departments).

You might not have all the answers to the questions posed below – BUT between your organization and the merchandising partner you choose, make sure you  have all the answers or you’re bound to hit a few hurdles along the way.

1. Define the Purpose of the Program

  • Identify the primary and secondary purpose of the program. For example, is the program designed to generate revenue, build brand awareness, build your contact list, or to consolidate purchasing to pass on savings to your end buyers?
  • Caution: Many organizations start out with visions of their merchandise program being a significant revenue generator for their organization – and are often disappointed at the results. Some good planning will help set realistic targets and ID secondary benefits at the outset so you can meet the outcomes you set.

2. Create a Business Case

  • Do the math. Sounds simple but it’s a critical step that many people miss. If you purchase a t-shirt for $8.00 and sell it for $20.00 you make $12.00, right? Actually, no, you don’t. You need to account for the time put into setting up the program, design time for graphics, time or $ spent ‘picking and packing’ (getting a product packed and shipped), hosting fees if the store is online, etc. Understand that the time for a return on investment may be longer than expected.
  • Assess your systems. Do you have an online merchant account to accept payment? Do you know the tax laws as they relate to selling merchandise or accepting donations on a website? Think through the details, sweat the small stuff.

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