| Ford Church

Is Affiliate Marketing Appropriate for your Non-Profit?

In November 2005, the Cottonwood Institute implemented a program to diversify our revenue stream called Affiliate Marketing. Affiliate marketing has been popular in the for-profit sector, but is it appropriate for your non-profit?

Affiliate marketing is a tactic used by merchants to drive traffic to their online businesses. To explain how this all works, we created the CI Store where we post affiliate merchant ads. When someone visits our store, clicks on an affiliate ad, and makes a purchase, the Cottonwood Institute is rewarded by receiving a commission or flat fee for that sale that we helped generate. All of the revenue we generate through our affiliate marketing program goes towards our General Scholarship Fund.

We wanted to develop partnerships with affiliates that would add value to the students who register for our courses. We developed a partnership with REI.com so students could purchase the gear they needed for their course, Orbitz.com so students outside of Colorado could make their travel  arrangements, and Book Sense so students could buy the books they needed. To read more about the Cottonwood Institute’s affiliate marketing strategy, download a copy of a recent article that appeared in the Daily Camera in January 2006 by clicking here.

To find out if affiliate marketing is right for your non-profit, visit: Commission Junction and Link Share to check it out for yourself.

Question: Has your non-profit implemented an affiliate marketing program? If so, what has it made it successful or unsuccessful?

Categories: Non-Profit Management

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2 Responses to “Is Affiliate Marketing Appropriate for your Non-Profit?”

  1. Ford Church

    For the Cottonwood Institute, the success of our affiliate marketing program hinges on educating our audience about how the program works, encouraging people to bookmark our store page to do their shopping, and reminding them to “shop with a conscience” and use our site next time they need to make travel plans, buy books, or buy outdoor gear.

    The money we generate for our General Scholarship Fund will probably not be a major component of our revenue stream, but it is easy money for doing very little work and helps us serve our mission. If we could devote more time to marketing our store, it could be more successful, but with limited resources, we have to weigh where we are going to spend our time.

  2. Roberto

    This is a very clever way to raise revenue for scholarships. The student gets a sense that they are helping their school, their community, and their fellow students who need a hand with their education. I know also that one can even negotiate higher commission rates with the retailers they are supporting specially if it is for a good cause like this. This becomes a win-win for all.


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