You’ve heard the old adage, “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” That’s because everything comes at a cost. Which, unfortunately, means there ain’t no such thing as ethical, high-quality merch at a low, low price.
Yet, the nonprofit industry has been conditioned to look for many products and services at a discount.
But the lower priced goods that come dirt cheap? There’s a reason. They might come from factories overseas, with little oversight into working conditions. Or they may be made from cheap, disposable-quality material destined for a landfill.
When you need merchandise that aligns with your mission, it’s unlikely to come at a discount. Whether your nonprofit focuses on climate action, human rights, fair wages, or another progressive cause, it’s essential that your merch speaks to your mission. Otherwise, you may as well be robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Discounted Merch Comes at a High Price
When you bargain-hunt for your merchandise, you leave a lot on the table. Sure, you may get a lower price on paper. But you lose more than you gain.
First, you lack consistency and continuity. Have you ever shopped at a fast fashion store, hoping to find the same pair of pants you bought last year? When you find them, they aren’t quite the same. Maybe the sizing is off, or the material is slightly different. These changes are because fast fashion clothes have low margins, and therefore the vendor prioritizes the lowest priced supplier — which can change week over week! This same phenomenon will impact your organization’s merch. Though you may find lower prices, you’ll never be able to create a consistent merch program.
Next, when you use large, often AI-driven merchandise wholesalers, you miss a key piece of the merch puzzle: a partner that understands your unique challenges. Operating in the nonprofit industry comes with some complexities that other industries don’t face. For example, most nonprofits don’t have staff dedicated to procurement. This means whoever on your team is tasked with ordering merchandise might not have any background in merchandise logistics. When ordering, it seems pretty easy to upload your art and hit the order button … until the logo is the wrong dimensions and the merch you receive isn’t what you expected.
A discount, though attractive to your budget, is risky in the long run. A better solution? Find a merch partner.
A Merch Strategy Makes Your Mission Stronger
Merchandise for your nonprofit organization shouldn’t be an afterthought — it should be a full strategy. Merchandise plays an important role in driving awareness, garnering support, and — most of all — raising funds.
Because of that, merch needs to align with your mission. And a partner helps you gain the best edge. Here’s how:
3 Reasons Why You Should Find a Partner, Not Just Lock In A Discount
F.I.I. only works with nonprofit organizations, which means you benefit from the long-term relationships we’ve spent decades cultivating. Those benefits come in the form of shirts with union bugs, a more consistent experience for your supporters, and, ultimately, the most competitive price for the highest quality goods. Here are three areas where a merch partner will make the biggest difference:
1. Your Conscience
Ethical merchandise is not always easy to find. But USA-made, union-made products are the backbone of our catalog, whether you are ordering in bulk or printing on demand. Our printing cooperative, Worx, is one of the only union shops that offers printing-on-demand, so you can order only what you need when you need it.
But beyond those benefits, choosing a partner with the same values as your organization means your merch will align with those values, too. You can have a clean conscience knowing your merch supports your cause.
2. Your Consistency
Working with a partner ensures continuity in two ways: first, for you and your team. Your logos will be on file, your order history will be easy to find, and you’ll work with the same contacts who already understand your goals and challenges.
Next, you’ll also have continuity for your supporters. If someone places an order through your webstore, your merch partner can handle the entire experience, from order to fulfillment to customer service.
Continuity is important — especially when the merch responsibilities on your team shift from year to year. Having a consistent relationship on the other side means you don’t start from scratch every time.
3. Your Value
When you work with F.I.I., you get access to the most competitive prices possible. USA- and union-made merchandise is premium, but we don’t charge a premium. The price you pay covers fair wages and high-quality, responsibly made items that other companies would markup.
Our pricing is always competitive. Long-term relationships with suppliers, bulk ordering, and experience in the industry allow us to negotiate the best possible pricing for ethically-made merchandise.
The Advantage of a Merch Partner Outweighs a Discount
When you work with a trusted merch partner, you get more than bulk pricing and responsibly made merchandise though. Instead of asking for a discount, tell us your budget upfront. We help your organization succeed, and we do that not just by finding the right products for your merch program but by building relationships with our clients, the same way we do with our merchandise providers.
Your goal is to raise more money. Our goal is to help you do that with high-quality merch that comes with a clean conscience and seamless customer experience. Learn more about how the benefits of a merch partner can’t be discounted.