Saturday, July 30, 2011

Web-based Fundraising Opportunities for Genealogy Societies

This is a follow-up to today's FGS Radio - My Society show entitled Web-Based Fundraising Opportunities and includes notes and hyperlinks on some of the opportunities discussed.

I can't stress enough this fact: starting thinking as an "individual" when you try to set these sites and opportunities up.  Think about what you would want as a consumer: bargains, discounts, the ability to recycle, to give back to your community.  So if you use Groupon, eBay, a credit card, etc. then there is no reason why you can't put those some ideas to work for your society.

Affiliate Marketing programs

What is affiliate marketing? Affiliate marketing can take many forms – mostly it means signing up for an affiliate program with a genealogy-related vendor or service provider and if a purchase is made using your unique ID and link, the society gets a set percentage. This is not the same as members discount (for example, ISGS members get 50% off on a Footnote subscription) – this is member benefits and the topic of a different show in the future. Also this is not “per click” advertising such as Google AdSense.

One vendor for societies to check out is FamilyLink ( and society leaders should contact Mark Olsen, Online Marketing Manager for FamilyLink for more information at  Many genealogy vendors have affiliate marketing programs and remember, if a vendor doesn’t have an affiliate program, ask them to set one up!

Why Affiliate Marketing Works

  • Your society members shop – why not go through the affiliate links for the society and let the society earn a percentage?
  • Make it easy for them to find the links
  • Make sure there is a reminder in your newsletter. Better yet, in your email signature!

Examples of Genealogy Societies Using Affiliate Marketing

Online Retailers

An online retailer is a vendor of items such as mugs, calendars, shirts that can be customized with your society logo and sold online at your society's virtual store.

Why Online Retailers Work

  • Set up your own store
  • Web presence
  • No warehousing – products produced on demand
  • No shipping & handling issues
  • Simple as using your logo
  • Your customers act as a billboard for your society

Examples of Genealogy Societies Using Online Retailers

Google AdSense

Google AdSense allows you to collect advertising revenue by placing ads on your blog or website. There is a little known division of Google AdSense called Google Grants which allows non-profits to collect this same ad revenue.

Ebay Community Selling

Ebay allows nonprofits to receive a certain percentage of online auction proceeds from auctions and sales run by the members of that non-profit. See for more information. Think of this as a genealogy society garage or rummage sale but done online!

Other Ideas

  • Staples Ink Cartridge Recycling - your members return used cartridges at any store and your society gets coupons for office supplies
  • Branded Credit Cards (aka Affinity Cards) - just like NFL teams have branded credit cards, nonprofits also brand their own credit cards and get 1% or more of the amount spent by the member 
  • Cookbook – just like the church or community cookbooks that our mothers and grandmothers not only bought but contributed their recipes to, your society can self-publish a cookbook with member recipes, photos and family stories.

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