People love supporting a good cause, but they hate wasting money.

Laundry soap fundraiserThis may seem like common sense, but it’s something that many non-profits don’t consider when they are deciding what product to sell as part of their fundraiser. Maybe it doesn’t seem to matter. After all, they’re mostly buying to support your organization, right? Right, but you want them to feel good about supporting your group and about the product they’re receiving in exchange. If they buy something from you that they do not want or need, they are still going to feel good about supporting you, but they’ll feel bad about the portion of the money that went to something they’ll never use. As a fundraiser, you want them to feel good about their entire experience with your organization, from order to delivery and beyond.

The product that they need or want at any given time will vary based on person to person, but also on other factors, like the season. When you look at the campaign from your supporters’ point of view and plan accordingly, you’ll maximize your sales and reach your fundraising goals much more quickly. Even more importantly, you’ll have happy supporters – and happy supporters are repeat supporters. So how should you decide what (and when, and where) to sell?

What you’re selling will be – or should be – largely determined by when and where. If you are going to sell items that make great gifts, such as candles and décor, doing so before a big holiday will boost your sales tremendously. The same can be said for selling foods like cakes, cookies, bread and pizza. Selling these items around a big holiday, like before the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving, will boost your sales as people can easily justify the purchase for upcoming events.

Fundraiser-savvy organizations also know how to create great opportunities, and this is where the “where” comes in. Let’s use lemonade stands as an example, as everyone likes to support children in their first business foray. Many children naturally set up their first lemonade stands in front of their houses. This tends to make parents cringe, as houses that are not on a main thoroughfare may get no traffic at all. But what if that same child set her lemonade stand up at a local park on a warm spring day?

This same way of thinking can be applied to fundraising sales. Get creative. If you can get permission, set up a stand selling fruit, baked goods or drinks at the finish line of your community 5K. Sell popsicles and iced drinks at a local park. Sell laundry detergent at a local laundromat – people will already be thinking about it, and it will be an easy sell when you explain the price difference between what they’re using and what your organization is selling. Remember, getting permission from the right people or agencies is important, as your organization’s goal is always to build bridges, and never to burn them.

Once you start thinking outside of the traditional fundraising box, you’ll be surprised at the many opportunities you can find to help your non-profit reach its financial goals.