Nonprofits may not be the first market that comes to mind when prospecting. Sure, everyone would like to get in with a major charity such as Susan G. Komen for the Cure, but that isn't always realistic. While it's nice to daydream about making a fortune on pink T-shirts and promoting a meaningful cause besides, big nonprofits like Susan G. Komen for the Cure only need so many vendors, and you can bet those spots are going to be competitive.
Instead, it may pay to look for smaller, less well-known nonprofits. They may not have the budget or the profile of larger organizations, but you might be surprised how many smaller nonprofits out there can make serious use of promotional products on a day-to-day basis. Being the smallest of small businesses, however, they might need a little help getting a feel for marketing, and you might need a little help tracking them down. Luckily, the sections below can help with just that, providing tips on finding and working with smaller nonprofits.
What they are: Ranging from larger organizations like the Sierra Club, to smaller, local entities like wildlife refuges or clean-water groups, these charities spend their time doing their best to help the environment, be that combating pollution or caring for injured or marginalized animals.
What to get them: Janet Wissink, president of the Winnebago Audubon Society, a conservation group based out of Oshkosh, Wis., shared a few ways the organization has used promotional products. Besides utilizing items like T-shirts and other apparel for member gifts and fundraisers, Wissink described how the group integrated imprinted stuffed animals into one of their eduction programs.
"There's a naturalist in Wisconsin whose specialty is frogs. We hire him to come into the schools every year," she said. "He has native Wisconsin frogs, toads and salamanders. The children gather around him on the floor, and they get to handle them, feed them and water them, and he talks about their life cycle and all about the frogs, and so it's a really neat hands-on experience for the children," said Wissink. After the session is over, she explained that a few stuffed toy frogs are handed out to the class, each having "Winnebago Audubon Society" printed across a small sweater on the toy's chest. Wissink added that the giveaway program is repeated during events run from the society's facilities, like a frog-finding night hike, where each child who attends receives a stuffed frog as well.