Most of the time, when nonprofit organizations and campaigns start considering branded merchandise, it’s because they want to diversify their fundraising efforts.
Merch is an extremely effective tool, whether sold in person at events, through an e-commerce store, or sent to supporters in exchange for donations. Awareness is usually considered a side benefit — fundraising is the end goal. But for organizations small and large, building awareness is the first step toward increased fundraising results.
Low Cost, Big Awareness Boosters
How can you build (and sustain) wider awareness, with slim resources? With just a small bit of design effort, a smidge of digital setup, and the right merch fulfillment partner, you can extend awareness and build loyalty for your fundraising efforts without breaking the bank.
It’s a no brainer to make some simple branded merch a part of your exiting direct mail programs, or a stand-alone component that supports a particular campaign. You probably have the infrastructure right at your fingertips already: a website, a social media platform or two (or ten!), maybe even some digital ad campaigns or Google Grant programs. Any and all of these can offer up craveable merch that fits easily into a #10 envelope – and works doubly hard to build awareness.
Donor Incentive, Campaign Builder, and Awareness Extender: Stickers are a Trifecta
Stickers are great motivators for most any cause-related campaign audience, whether it’s to support a nonprofit, a union, or a political campaign. All you need is a great message and some good branding.
You might be pleasantly surprised at how the small incentive of receiving a sticker as a gift for donating can boost your fundraising campaign engagement.
A standard size bumper sticker, car window cling, round die-cut sticker, or a sticker pack with six stickers on a sheet are all perfect candidates for a #10 envelope. Ours are USA-made and union-printed, of course, since it’s important for your merch to align with your mission and values.
And the best thing about stickers? They spread your message for you. Every laptop, minivan, and water bottle that bears your sticker is a miniature billboard for your brand and campaign slogan. Even the smallest stickers can do a lot to spread your key messages.
Some examples from work F.I.I. has done: Planned Parenthood’s three-inch round stickers saying “We won’t go back” are a call-to-action to mobilize people to fight for reproductive rights. The Union of Concerned Scientists also made bumper stickers saying “Got Science?” to direct curious individuals to their website to learn about their work.
Stickers as a Fundraising Gateway
Requesting any branded merch through the mail begins a connection to your cause. It also lays the foundation for a path to more fundraising for your campaign — first you gather emails and create awareness, then you can turn that connection into a commitment through donations. Here’s how to use stickers to augment your efforts.
1. Build your Email List with Incentivized Sign-Ups
For grassroots campaigns or organizations looking to broaden their audience, using low-cost branded merchandise to incentivize email sign-ups is a win-win. You get an email, plus a physical mailing address. This helps you build your fundraising prospect list and gives you a better understanding of the geographic breakdown of your supporters.
How to do it: Run a social media campaign (organic and/or paid) advertising a free sticker pack for anyone who signs up with their email. ActBlue makes this easy with their forms and merch integration. You gather the list, F.I.I. fulfills the merch deliveries right to people’s doors. Pretty simple, right?
2. Incentivize Donations with a Gift of Stickers
Whether you want to reach a new audience, or tap existing supporters, offering a “gift” in return for a donation is great incentive. The better the messaging on your stickers, the more compelling they can be. If you already have an established list, or are working on pressing issues that need major awareness, a great slogan on a fun sticker can help with list-building and fundraising. Remember, just one small donation can turn into something much bigger with the right cultivation.
How to do it: To capture a broader pool of donations, send an email blast to the segment of your list who haven’t previously donated, asking for a $2 donation in exchange for a free sticker. Put a pop-up on your website with this offer, add a banner to your next email newsletter, and use the social media tactics above. Get donations in the door, then start your cultivation efforts for larger donations.
3. Solidify Your Sustainer Program
Sustainer programs, where supporters sign up to give money at regular intervals, are the bread and butter of many organizations. One-time donations are important, but predictable, sustainable revenue is key to keeping a campaign afloat.
If your campaign goals are to incentivize membership giving, like monthly recurring donations, branded merch is the way to go. A small merch incentive that fits in an envelope is an excellent way to motivate that first monthly donation.
How to do it: Use promotional channels like your website, email and social media to announce your monthly giving programs, and offer a sticker delivered via mail immediately upon the first donation. It can also be a great stewardship tool. You can create a new one every year, recognizing the meaning and value of being a member and enhancing that annual connection.
Get Higher Engagement at a Lower Cost
Though stickers (and the postage to mail them) aren’t free, this concept is still an extremely low-cost way to build the awareness that leads to donations and recurring funds.
The cost of a sticker starts at about $0.20. With bulk postage, you are looking at a gift that costs your organization less than a dollar.
Here’s the kicker: you are only going to be sending these gifts to the people who have already expressed interest. This means the time and money you spend are doubly valuable. You get an email sign-up and a physical address, both of which are extremely valuable for your organization’s continued communication. If you are getting donations, that’s even better. The ROI of digitally-enabled direct mail is high since you only spend money on engaged supporters.
The act of giving a piece of merch in itself also fosters engagement. That small sticker is the first thread of a relationship you are weaving with each supporter. The dollar for a sticker and postage is well spent, even if all you get in return is an email and physical address. It’s the start of a relationship, and the gateway to a commitment. One that will pay dividends, in funds and support, for your cause. Talk to us about how to get started!