By Ashley Papp
I am excited to share my favorite non-Salesforce fundraising tip with people because it has been so successful in my experience. Does your nonprofit have a wish list of things they need donated? If you do, then you’ll want to keep reading this post.
It’s time to set up an Amazon Wish List for your organization. Why, you ask? There are two reasons. First, there are some people that prefer to donate items instead of money. They love knowing exactly the impact their donation had on an individual. Donating $8.00 to an organization doesn’t make me feel like I’ve made a difference. Buying a person in need a hat to keep warm is a good deed that I can get excited about. Second, and I can’t emphasize this enough, as nonprofits we need to make it EASY for people to donate!
I serve on the Board of Directors for my local homeless shelter, The House of Mercy. When I became involved with the organization a few years ago, I learned about the tremendous need for donated items such as boots, hats, gloves, socks and hand warmers to protect people during Rochester’s notoriously cold winters. I thought about it for a while and I was sure most people would be willing to donate these items to help someone in need. After all, a package of socks, a pair of gloves or a hat is only about $8.00. I started brainstorming the reasons we weren’t getting more donations of items on our wish list. The first thing I thought of was myself. I had donated socks on a few occasions before joining the Board of Directors. I then realized the issue wasn’t that people didn’t want to spend the $8.00, it is that they don’t have the time to buy the items and then drive them to you. Taking the time out of your day to drive to a store to buy an item off the wish list and then drive to the location to drop it off is a lot of effort to donate one item.
That’s when I started our Amazon Wish List. I took the wish list that we already had on our website, searched for those items on Amazon and created a wish list. Next to each item I indicated the quantity that we needed, the priority, and a short description.
Our donors loved it! They were thanking us for making donating so easy. Donations started flooding in. The first winter we had the Amazon Wish List was the first winter we ever had enough gloves to hand out to everyone in need. People were donating so many pairs of gloves that I lost count at 200 pairs. I had to check the wish list daily because retailers on Amazon were selling out of gloves due to our donors.
Again, this winter, we saw the same amazing reaction. We were lucky to have a mild winter in Rochester this year but there were a few weeks temperatures dipped below zero. I put out a plea for boots and overnight over 40 pairs of men’s and women’s boots were purchased!
It’s important to note, this is not just a winter time blessing – Amazon wish lists are great all year long. With each season comes a different need. We help families with back to school supplies, new school clothes, and Christmas presents. Throughout the year we have consistent needs of basic supplies as well. Socks, undershirts, men’s and women’s underwear, and women’s hygiene products are always on the list. Below are some tips to help you get started with your organization’s list.
General Tips for Your Amazon Wish List:
- Check the cost of shipping – avoid heavy items.
- Make sure the items don’t sell out – when they do find a new vendor.
- Tell people why you need the item – donors had no idea a homeless shelter needed coffee.
- Keep the requested number reasonable – I’ve had the best results with requests of 100 or less.
- Put the most needed items at the top of your list.
- Ask for a variety of items – different things resonate with different people. I’ve had people that work in technology donate computers, and I’ve had dental hygienists donate toothpaste.
- Update it seasonally – summertime we focus on back to school supplies.
- Watch for sales – let your supporters know when an item on the list goes on sale.
Social Media Tips:
- Share your needs a few times a week on your various social media channels.
- Make it specific. Do you have 5 kids that need new backpacks for school?
- Share pictures of the donations that come in and thank people. Amazon does not tell you who sent in a donation, so we post on Facebook each week thanking everyone for their donations.
- Boost your Facebook posts. The few dollars you spend promoting the post will pay off.
- Include the Amazon Wish List as a way to donate in your email marketing communications.
- Share real stories. I have a picture of frost bitten hands that I often use when asking for donations of gloves
Amazon donations have been life changing for us. Like most organizations, if enough of the items on our wish list weren’t donated we bought them ourselves. After all, they are on our wish list for a reason! Getting enough Amazon donations to fill the need frees up our other funds. I understand your concerns, “if people are donating through Amazon they will stop sending in money!” This is absolutely not the case. The increased awareness of our needs through the promotion of the Amazon Wish List has also positively affected our monetary donations.
You may also be interested in reading:
- A New Shift in Fundraising Strategy Could Actually Make us Happier
- Salesforce Nonprofit Dashboards: Not Just For Fundraising
- How to Convince Your Management to Implement Salesforce