Covid-19 has not only wreaked havoc on millions of lives but has also changed fundraising. At least for the foreseeable future. Although historically effective, the idea of selling face-to-face concerns many groups. There are obvious advantages. Like being able to show a physical catalog full of items, or a tangible product.
Although we’re well into the digital age, many supporters still need to see what they’re buying. It used to be that showing a brochure or product was the only way to generate sales. Over the years, selling products online has gained in popularity. The pandemic has definitely accelerated the need for online school fundraising programs.
During Covid, many schools are still doing remote learning. Group participants are able to invite friends and family to the group’s online store. They can send a general school link or register and send their own personalized link. Once someone buys a product, the group makes a profit off the sale.
It’s not necessary to type emails from scratch. Students can send them out using preset templates. A friendly and concise message is ready to go. The student’s name and code are already inserted into the message. This way, the recipient knows exactly what to do. The hardest part is inserting the supporter’s email and clicking the ‘send’ button. Student codes also allow the sponsor to track individual sales progress.
Contrary to what some may think, online fundraiser stores don’t run themselves. Even though there is a tremendous amount of automation, communication is still paramount. Someone must be able to send out instructions and reminder messages via text or email. This is much easier to do for smaller groups than for larger school-wide organizations.
Every fundraiser should incorporate a communication strategy, virtual or otherwise.
Companies give the sponsor, and in some cases, the student, access to track their activity. Things like social shares and real-time sales updates are viewable on the dashboard. This makes sending out periodic progress reports that much more relevant.
The Pros & Cons to Online Only Fundraising
Anything is possible with today’s technology. Groups are able to tap into some very effective sales tools. Thus, it’s possible that groups can now raise more money with far less effort. But there are also reasons many groups end up falling short of their goals when selling online.
Here are 2 reasons your group may end up experiencing a less than satisfactory outcome:
- Online is Impersonal: It’s true, you can foster great communication online. Emails, texts, social media, and Zoom meetings can all be effective. But real face-to-face interaction is also important. When partaking in online fundraising, physical interpersonal interaction is lacking. This is the case whether interacting as a group or making a sale. Personal-to-person contact brings a certain energy that a virtual environment cannot.
- Accountability Challenges: Sponsors need to be able to check in with their students throughout their sales. Ensuring they’re accountable and working towards their goal is vital to your success. Online selling can add some unintended obstacles. Students don’t always check for email updates. It’s easy to miss a Zoom meeting. Thus, your group may end up feeling a bit detached and become indifferent towards your cause. There’s something to be said about feeling the energy of others in a room.
Online only selling has its limitations. The hurdles can be overcome, but there are other available options as well. But the reason to consider selling online is also compelling. Here are a few to consider:
- Larger Market: Online selling allows your students to reach friends and family nationwide. Not only those in their neighborhood or parents’ work colleagues.
- More Selling Methods: Students can share their cause using social media, email, and text.
- Real-Time Updates: Instead of waiting for order forms, sales record online immediately. Sponsors can see how many sales each student has made. This allows them to send out progress updates.
- No Paperwork: With a 100% virtual fundraiser, there are no order forms or money to collect. Groups receive profit checks after their store closes.
- No Group Deliveries: All online orders ship directly to the customer. The customer pays a shipping fee.
- No Upfront Fees: Unlike with other types of product sales there are no fees to start or minimum order requirements.
Like anything else, online fundraisers come with both advantages and disadvantages. As companies work to improve the process, schools will learn how to better leverage it. Thus, raising money using virtual means is now mainstream and will continue to grow.