Are you involved with a nonprofit organization (NPO)? Is your organization looking for a cost-effective way to increase donations, further the cause and grow your management or volunteer base? If you answered yes to these questions, starting your own nonprofit affiliate network may be the right solution for you.
For most nonprofit organizations these are very challenging times. The global economy is worse than it has ever been in our lifetime. While the need for services and support from nonprofits continues to grow, a global economic slump means both sponsor contributions and supporter donations may also be at an all time low.
Now, the good news. As a nonprofit, you have considerable options at your disposal for increasing your outreach and fundraising. One of those options is to start your own nonprofit affiliate network. A thriving nonprofit affiliate network can be leveraged to help sustain your organization’s cause, mission, fundraising and overall growth.
4 Great Reasons to Launch a Nonprofit Affiliate Network
While there are many different reasons to launch your own nonprofit affiliate network, here are four of the most common:
Online or off, affiliate marketing is one of the most cost-effective methods of marketing currently being used today. For our purposes, we’ll focus online, but affiliate marketing can be translated to the ‘real world’ (think referral fees, commissions and the like.) The way an affiliate network works is simple:
- First, a would-be affiliate marketer signs up to promote your cause.
- As the marketer directs qualified donor traffic to your site, a tracking code ensures they get credit for any donations their referral generated,
- Through that donation, the affiliate marketer is compensated by receiving a small portion (called a commission) from the amount received.
So you see, creating an affiliate network can provide you with a very quick, easy and cost-effective way of increasing your future donations.
Much of the marketing cost involved with driving potential donors to you is shouldered by the affiliate marketers who sign up to help promote your cause. Often, these affiliate marketers already have well-established traffic generation methods. They may be savvy about using search engine optimization (SEO), AdWords (Google’s pay-per-click advertising engine), social media, email marketing and other techniques. This means a well-established affiliate marketer will be able to promote your cause, organization or message, extending your reach into a larger audience than what you would have achieved on your own.
What’s possible with this? At its best, we’re talking global outreach to millions of potential donors sympathetic to your cause. The global nature of the Internet enables you shed local boundaries or territories. This will be especially poignant for you if your nonprofit operates internationally. If you’re more locally-focused, you may want your ‘global reach’ to only extend to your city borders. If that’s the case, no worries. An affiliate program for your non-for-profit may still fit. Your goal is to have your cause promoted to those who are looking for you, whether they live in your town or on the other side of the planet.
Expand Your Volunteer Base
Having your own nonprofit affiliate network will also make it easier for you to find and recruit potential board members and volunteers. You should be communicating to your affiliate marketers regularly. Part of that marketing communication will be in the form of messages for your affiliate network to send to their own audiences. This helps them bring value to their audiences and of course, it gets your word out. In this case, however, it’s not a “buy our stuff” or “donate to our cause” message, but more of a “we need your helping hands” message.
Save Some Dough
By starting your own nonprofit affiliate network, you will be saving on the service and administration fees paid when you join existing affiliate networks. For example, joining an existing affiliate network system could cost you anywhere from $200 to $800 or more per month. This monthly service fee can seem like a small amount initially. Over time, however, those fees may amount to hundreds and even thousands of dollars per year in expense—simply because you joined a pre-existing network.
Now let’s take a quick look at the role of the affiliate marketer and the part they play in helping you reach your organizational goals.
Who Will Be Your Affiliate Marketers?
Through your nonprofit affiliate marketing program, you will be able to enlist the marketing genius of website and blog owners all over the world. As you push forward, however, you will want to establish basic guidelines for your affiliate marketing program. This will be established in your initial affiliate agreement.
Typically, your affiliate marketers will be content creators who own and manage websites that publish content related to your charities, organization or cause. In most cases, they have either built up a large online following through regular traffic to their website or they have a large mailing list of engaged subscribers who may be sympathetic or interested in supporting your cause.
How Much To Pay Your NPO Affiliates?
Your payment model should be a performance-based commission founded on a percentage of the marketer’s referred revenues. All other elements being equal, the higher the commission you offer, the greater the interest in your affiliate program. On the other hand, the higher your commission payout, the less you will be able to invest in other necessary activities. Since you’re just getting started, you may want to enter the affiliate marketing foray with the industry standard of 20-30% and adjust as needed. Compare your commissions to what you would have paid in a more traditional advertising model. If you receive a $100 donation and it cost you $20 or $30 to get it, can you live with that?
How Are Affiliate Payments Handled?
Payments to your nonprofit affiliates can be set up to be automatically sent on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis and using a variety of different payment options such as PayPal, ACH or direct deposit. Try to keep this part of the process smooth, automated and easy to understand.
Your Nonprofit Affiliate Network is Launched! Now What?
Once you have your own nonprofit affiliate network established, you can start contacting high-ranking blog owners to let them know about your new opportunity.
(Tip: Make sure your affiliate program compliments their offerings. Otherwise, you’re wasting their time, and yours.)
One of the best ways to find high-level affiliates is to turn to the search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) Enter a search phrase related to your type of charity. Scan the top 10 to 50 blog sites listed. Will your nonprofit affiliate program bring value to their efforts? If you think so, simply ask them if they’re interested. Many may say no. There is no need to convince them. Thank them for their time and move on to the folks who want to say yes.
Launching your own nonprofit affiliate network can be a very strategic way to implement an online marketing system. Leveraged properly, an affiliate network has the potential to help your organization reduce marketing costs while growing your revenues, members and outreach. This creates a win-win-win situation for everyone involved.
About Matt Schoenherr
Matt is a husband, father of four, marketing consultant and founder of Marketing Ideas 101. As a student, teacher and published author, Matt supports the worthy goals of service and commerce in the small business and nonprofit communities. You may find him on Google+, Twitter and Facebook. Creative marketing ideas and marketing strategies may be found at MarketingIdeas101.com.