E-Commerce Strategy for Non-profit Organizations

The start of the year 2021 with COVID-19 affects non-profits all over the world. As CBC News recently reported in its business section, “ For some non-profits, COVID-19 isn’t just a struggle. It’s a do-or-die moment “. Innovation is central to how organizations are responding to the pandemic. Imagine Canada states that  • 54% of charities have transitioned in-person programs to online and 42%, have developed completely new programs in response to need, while • 54%, are increasing their emphasis on existing online programs. Such comments and statistics depict the steady progression and need to innovate. The purpose of this article is to offer basic easy-to-understand definitions of technical terms, along with ready easy-to-use tools that will allow you to innovate and steer your activities through sustained growth. 

Let’s start with a few basic definitions which sometimes overlap. The difference between e-commerce and digital marketing may seem obvious to most people, yet confusing to others. So let’s set the record straight. Everything you buy via email, on a website or other form of electronic communication, falls within the realm of e-commerce. In short, e-commerce is simply commercing through electronic devices. Digital marketing, on the other hand,  is a complementary process that uses electronic devices and the internet. The process encompasses tools to help you reach a larger audience than you could through traditional methods, and target the prospects who are most likely to buy your product or service. Additionally, it’s often more cost-effective than traditional advertising and enables you to measure success daily and pivot as you see fit. 

To further clarify the role of each, let’s consider for example when someone orders a customized candle holder from your non-profit organizations’ online store, the process of ordering and delivery is e-commerce. However, the way you attract the customer to your website and the way you get the customer to trust your brand is digital marketing.

The way of the future is being able to make a well-informed decision as to which digital tools will best help your non-profit organization reach its e-commercing goals and strategy. Such could be attained by using some of the following tools to best promote your website to bring greater awareness to your cause, a higher traffic flow and more qualified leads or higher sales if applicable:


One of the oldest forms of digital marketing that is still quite valuable today. The beauty of emails is that they are free and when sent to a selected group, that they tend to create an audience where conversion rates will be higher. In other words, this personalized approach will allow you to communicate better with your audience and allow you to launch or promote discounts, as well as attracting more of your audience to special non-profit activities or events. 

Affiliate Marketing

Promoting other companies’ products or services on your non-profit organizations’ website. The pay you receive is proportional to the traffic you send the receiver’s way. It works if your website is performing well and chances are if such is the case, that your receiver may equally offer you to post on their website. In other words, success breeds success!


Pay-per-click is a model of internet marketing in which you as an advertiser, pay a fee each time one of your ads is clicked. Essentially, it’s a way of buying visits to your site, rather than attempting to “earn” those visits organically (for free). The two common types of online advertising options that charge you a per-click to your website are:

Paid search advertising occurs when providers such as Google AdWords and Bing Ads show your ad to users who search for certain keywords. You set up campaigns by writing ad content, selecting relevant keywords and choosing a suitable landing page on your site.

Display advertising are banner, image or text ads that appear on different websites, selected to target particular audiences. These ads will link to your website. They generally return a lower click-through rate than search ads, but can be useful for building brand awareness.


Search engine optimization is the process of increasing your website’s position and page rank, thereby increasing the amount of organic (or free) traffic your website receives as a result of related searches. Important tools used to successfully accomplish such is through the effective use of keywords and quality backlinks, that is, links from third-party sources that point to your website. Coming out on the first page of a search result may be interpreted as a compliment because the search engine used, evaluated your site as one of the best to answer the user’s selected query. To obtain such a ranking is also a reflection of the investment of time and hard work you have put into creating, designing and maintaining your non-profit’s website.


social media marketing. The act of promoting your brand or site content on social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter or other relevant channels. Such a move is designed to increase your brand awareness, drive traffic and generate more leads for your non-profit organization. 

Let’s not lose sight of what we want to achieve with all this theory but rather, concentrate on the crux of the matter, that is putting that knowledge to good use. Initial steps are quite easy and oftentimes free or inexpensive. 

For example, let’s not forget that emails are free and that a well structured email campaign to selected members of your niche market, may prove quite beneficial and spur  additional activity or sales. 

By the same token, why not exchange links with maybe some of your key suppliers and become mutual marketing affiliates.

You may want to experiment with the pay-per-click approach and go to GoogleAds and set up a free account and post your ad. The price and payable amount per-click will be determined at time of set-up based on the nature of your business where for example, a pre-agreed fee of $5,00 per-click will be invoiced to you each time an interested party clicks your ad.

A general inquiry under Google “seo keywords search” may also prove quite interesting. It may  further your understanding of the search engine optimization process and  at the same time, allow you to experiment with keywords that may improve or increase the quality  of inquiries on your non-profit’s websites.

Last but not least if it’s not already done, is setting up a facebook page for your non-profit and making everyone in the community aware of your activities. Each tool carries its uniqueness and as exemplified above, warrants to be studied, used and experimented with, for the benefit of your respective non-profit’s organization. The final and most important step, if for you to start with whichever of the above captions you are most comfortable with,and gradually progress to a level of development that meets your satisfaction. On that basis, if ever you need further assistance or require further information along the way, please feel free to email us at [email protected].