The powers of e-Commerce are allowing charities to build awareness, educate visitors and boost donations through the web.
National non-profit organization Cookies for Kids’ Cancer has established a powerful e-Commerce presence in partnership with Volusion to sell cookies, offer merchandise and accept donations year round. E-Commerce sales now represent 15% of the organization’s annual revenue, and have helped Cookies for Kids’ Cancer educate supporters and empower them to be “Good Cookies” and contribute to their causes.
“Everyone can be a Good Cookie,” said Emily Fowler, Director of Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. “There is no right way to get involved. Host a bake sale; run a race; make a donation; or send cookies. Each day, supporters are finding new, creative ways to help raise funds.”
In the early stages of the foundation, founders Larry and Gretchen Witt onboarded volunteers to bake cookies and raise money to find a cure for childhood cancer. Driven by their two-year-old son’s neuroblastoma diagnosis, the Witts launched a free e-Commerce sit through Volusion’s Stores to Change the World program. Within 72 hours, they sold all 96,000 cookies, raising more than $420,000 to donate directly to a research hospital.
“Setting out to sell 96,000 cookies demands a vast network of support — in our case coast to coast,” said Fowler in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “With a simple-to-use web site that offered just three flavors the first year, consumers could hear our story, go to the web site and buy cookies, knowing that 100% of the profit would go directly to research.”
A Grass Roots Approach
As the organization grew, the Witts refined their strategy. Rather than spending each day baking cookies, they activated people to host back sales in their communities and send donations. Since its inception in 2008, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer has helped more than 5,000 supporters host grass root events in all 50 states and in 15 countries.
“The founders added the grassroots model to empower individuals to raise funds in their hometowns,” Fowler noted, “but the online cookie sales continue to this day as a nod to our heritage and a way to capture Good Cookie spirit online.”
Volusion has helped Cookies for Kids’ Cancer become its own retail operation, offering new merchandising tools to showcase products with multiple images. With the Volusion partnership, Google Grants gives Cookies for Kids’ Cancer advertising dollars to bid on keywords, which helps drive new visits directly to the e-Commerce page. In addition, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer can use a tool called RallyBound to create personalized landing pages that are designed to drive donations.
“Volusion was with us from day one of our organization,” Fowler said. “Like anything else, setting up a web site is a detailed process but nearly six years later we’re still at it today!”
It also was invaluable that Cookies for Kids’ Cancer was able to launch its online storefront free of charge.
“Dollars matter to non-profits,” Fowler admitted. “Offering a free store to non-profits helps Volusion stand out in the crowd. Our goal is to give as much as possible to promising research — that means that costs and fees are always reviewed and kept as low as possible in order to ensure that funds raised go toward research.” Tech support also is provided so Cookies for Kids’ Cancer doesn’t have to hire in-house manpower to manage the e-Commerce site.