online charity malls - Giving Something Back - Online Charity for Your E-Biz
by Chris Malta
Some charity malls will let your E-Biz participate at no cost. Others are free if your store is recommended by a member, but charge a slotting fee for you to join unsolicited. However, ePhilanthropy pioneer Robert Grosshandler, founder of online charity mall iGive.com, finds that, even with paid memberships, merchants tend to return year after year. He explains, "E-Biz owners who belong to charity malls most often find that allowing buyers to give something back enhances their overall sales."
Online charity isn't limited to physical goods — if what you sell can be purchased over the Internet, you can participate in a charity mall model. Shoppers can even buy online and pick up their item at your physical storefront — the key is that the transaction itself happens online.
You set your eStore's donation percentage based on what you feel you can afford. For longer margin businesses, like ink jet cartridges or women's fashion, you may be able to give a higher percentage than you could with a shorter margin business, like computers.
Though altruism plays a role in cause marketing, it's important to remember that it's still marketing. The charities, in a sense, act as your affiliates. Consumers choose your store because it lets them support their charities.
And you, in turn, pay the charities a commission for the sales they generate.
From the perspective of an online retailer, charity malls offer two substantial benefits:
- Sales Advantage
When your customers can support a cause they care about, just by buying things they were buying anyway, they have a real motive to shop with you rather than your competition. The charity mall model is far superior to most cause marketing campaigns, where merchants determine the recipient of their contributions and simply hope that shoppers will connect to that particular charity. With eCharity malls, shoppers are able to choose where their funds are going, so they can feel good about helping out a cause that they personally care about.
Many online charity malls are growing quite sizable. For example, iGive introduces its nearly seven hundred participating stores to an audience of about a quarter million active members.
While even national charity organizations struggle with a lack of funding, the biggest beneficiaries of online philanthropy are small and medium sized organizations that have limited fund-raising options. For these causes, virtual charity malls make a real impact.
As more and more people become comfortable purchasing on the Internet, eCharity becomes a greater proposition. Explains Grosshandler, "The merchants gain a sales advantage; the consumers get to donate to their favorite causes by doing what they were doing anyway; and the charities receive much-needed support. It's a win-win situation for everyone."