Nonprofits have been around since the early 1900s, doing charitable works and helping to mend communities in the wake of a crisis. Thanks to evolving technology and the rise of social media, these groups are receiving more attention and support than ever before. From local organizations to worldwide groups like the Red Cross, the logos and slogans of nonprofits inspire feelings of hope, togetherness, and progress. 

Whether they’re championing the cause of a more inclusive community or providing needed disaster relief, nonprofits are faced with the unique challenge of gaining donors to both financially support and carry out their missions in practical ways. Now more than ever, consumers value an immediate return on investment and proof that their time and support is appreciated. For this reason, branded merchandise can provide the perfect support for most nonprofits. So, is investing in branded merchandise the best next step for your organization? 

Does Branded Merchandise Really Work?

Not only does branded merchandise increase name recognition and provide “free marketing” by putting your logo out there in the world, but it can also be an asset for fundraising, promotions, and organizational growth. In the United States, the promotional and branded product industry brings in an annual sales total of $21.3 billion, making it the seventh largest marketing channel in the country. In an age in which advertising is everywhere—on billboards and news feeds alike—consumers have learned to tune out ads. However, they are 85 percent less likely to forget or tune out the organization that gave them a tangible promotional item like a hat, pen, or beer stein.

Branding Is Bigger Than Marketing

When you think branding, cheesy slogans and ads filled with strategically placed logos may come to mind. Given this mentality, it’s easy to understand why many nonprofits intentionally stay away from branded merchandise at the risk of coming off as “salesy” or less than authentic. However, there are ways to use branded merchandise as a positive force for your nonprofit to further inspire action and support. Below are a few ways branded merchandise can be helpful to nonprofits looking to expand their reach or grow donations. 

Increase Brand Awareness

Promotional products with your organization’s name and logo on it offer consumers an unconscious reminder of your brand. Take a handmade, custom coffee mug, for example. Every time the individual uses that mug or even glances at where it rests on a shelf, he or she will be reminded of your organization, increasing your chances of gaining—and keeping—support. The more useful, quality items you customize with your brand, the better, as this can increase your advertising reach and widen brand awareness.

Excite Your Target Market

Unlike straightforward marking tactics that blast products and content to a wide audience, promotional products allow for targeted distribution to people who are more likely to be interested in what you have to offer. For example, a nonprofit handing out branded coffee mugs to volunteers who pass hot drinks to the homeless during cold weather knows that their volunteers probably already enjoy what they offer, support their mission, and would appreciate a mug. Not only does this raise brand awareness, but it informs your target market that you can meet their needs. 

Incentivize Existing Supporters

In the current market in which every nonprofit is competing with countless other groups for support, how can you motivate employees and volunteers to support your organization and refer others to you? Providing branded merchandise to employees and volunteers as a perk of supporting your cause is a smart way to allocate your marketing budget. When you treat your supporters well, they funnel more support your way! Research shows that personal referrals are highly valuable when it comes to attracting more business—or in the case of nonprofits, more support for a cause. 

Promoting Your Branded Merchandise

For some nonprofits, allocating a marketing budget for branding and branded merchandise may feel at odds with the organization’s mission. The goal is to help people or otherwise make the world a better place, after all. It says it right in the name that there can be no “profit!” But even noble causes need to be marketed well in order to generate donations and receive the maximum amount of support possible. Although you should never forget your mission to promote your brand, investing in branded merchandise, and using it well, is a wise allocation of resources.

Be patient in giving your organization time to identify the ideal method of promoting branded merchandise. That could range from including branded mugs in gift bags sent to previous donors to giving out fun, branded sunglasses at events.

Make the Most of Your Brand with Grey Fox

Pens are (almost literally) a dime a dozen. Go beyond the cheap plastic for a heartfelt gift to your generous donors! Stoneware coffee mugs or steins are a thoughtful way to increase brand awareness, reach your target market, and reward your existing supporters. With handmade pieces molded by talented American artists, Grey Fox Pottery stoneware mugs are highly durable and resistant to chipping. And with a small minimum order size of 48 pieces, our wide variety of glazes and mug styles make the ideal branded merchandise for any nonprofit. Reach out today to learn more about how our pottery pieces can make a difference to your organization. 


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