Affiliate Marketing – Effective Online Fundraising Method

When it comes to fundraising, we sell fruit and cookies, engage in outreach to potential donors (using methods ranging from direct contact to casting wider nets via social media), employ numerous other online and offline techniques, but affiliate marketing is an avenue that most non-profits and charities are not even aware of; and, consequently, it remains one of the most underutilized methods of online fundraising.

According to, 72% of all charitable contributions are made by individuals (followed by foundations at 15%, bequests at 8%, and corporations at 5%):

Individual donors

While about 15% of Americans do not use the Internet [source] the vast majority of us do; and out of some 320 million people that reside in the U.S., more than 200 million are active online shoppers [source]. This is nearly 80% of the U.S. population age 15 and above!

U.S online shoppers

Combining the fact that the vast majority of charitable contributors are individual donors with the reality that most of them eagerly shop online, makes affiliate marketing a common-sense technique to turn to when it comes to raising money online.

However new (and/or unknown) the area of “affiliate marketing” may be to you, in the context at hand it works as straightforwardly as this:

  1. Nonprofit/charity/fundraiser signs up for affiliate programs
    (i.e. becomes an “affiliate,” which is 100% free);
  2. Fundraiser encourages its supporters to shop through its affiliate links
    (via its website, social media efforts, email, other methods of online promotion);
  3. When any supporter purchases something through fundraiser’s affiliate link, the fundraiser receives a commission

You may read more about the overall concept in a brilliant (yet eloquent) How Affiliate Marketing Works article here, check out also my free “How To” Guide to Affiliate Marketing, and do give it a serious consideration for you own fundraising efforts! Your context is perfect: the donor will be happy knowing that by shopping online she is contributing to your cause, the advertisers to which you’ll be driving business will appreciate your effort, and you, in turn, will add a powerful “channel” of online fundraising to your overall mix of techniques used.

(For more updated stats check out this post.)

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