With the spread of Covid-19 we have witnessed to an increment in the willingness to donate to hospitals, organizations and nonprofits by people. In such a delicate and complex moment, we have therefore decided to provide an overview on which apps and integrations can help merchants on Shopify to support, thanks to their customers, this and other important causes.
We want to start with an image, the image of an offer box next to the cashier in a bar, or restaurant, or shop. It might happen that customers leave their change there, but if the person behind the counter is particularly passionate about the cause he's supporting, or if there are some engaging and detailed photos and documents next to the box, it might happen that the customer decides to donate a way bigger amount than just change.
This simple ecosystem is, to some extent, perfectly replicable in a Shopify Store.
How to choose a cause, and how to support it?
Choosing which cause to support and communicating it properly are elements as crucial as the actual setup of the technical donation feature. There are two possible areas we advise to look at when you decide to use your store to support a nonprofit organization:
As it is happening now, there might be some emergency situations on a local or international scale that require an immediate support. Such emergencies are usually natural disasters, humanitarian crisis or conflict escalations, that usually move very fast on social media.
In such cases we assume that the problem awareness is usually already present in the final user, and what becomes important is to reassure your customers that the donation option you are setting up is reliable. It is important to offer an easy way to donate, but also to provide enough information about the donation process and the organization you are donating the money to.
2. CAUSES ALIGNED WITH YOUR STORE MISSION
It is important not to forget that there are many causes and situations that often aren't in the spotlight, and don't get the attention they deserve. How to choose which of these causes to support?
Our recommendation is to try and find some overlapping between your mission and the one supported by the organization you want to donate to. This can on one side strengthen your brand identity, and at the same time create a solid storytelling to encourage your customers to donate.
A perfect example of a good alignment between a brand and a nonprofit organization is Diff, glasses brand on Shopify collaborating with Sightsavers, organization aimed at providing assistance to those who are visually impaired in those countries where poverty is still an obstacle to proper sight care.
Ok, I have decided which cause to support. What next?
Once decided what organization to support, also depending on the type of cause, there are several different tools and strategies you could use, from a simple donation of a portion of your earnings to the direct engagement of your users (the offer box we were talking about), or even more complex partnerships and special collections made for the purpose.
In this article we will focus on those apps and plugins available on the Shopify App Store that can somehow simulate the donation box of a physical store.
OPTION 1: I am looking for a ready-to-use solution - where I can pick a nonprofit from a list provided by the app I install
Several apps have already an agreement with different nonprofits, and they allow merchants to integrate their ready-to-use solution in a few clicks. Let's have a closer look at two of the main apps available.
Cents is a free integration born in Italy with the goal of allowing anyone to generate a positive impact through their purchases.
How? Recognising the central role of e-commerce stores and offering them the possibility to support social and environmental causes while involving their customers. You'll simply need to book a call with Riccardo and Alessio, founders of Cents, and they'll help you identify the causes and organisations that are most in line with your brand.
This startup has a fast growing network of nonprofits, and therefore it offers a wide choice of causes to to their merchants. Moreover, merchants can onboard new causes and organisations themselves. Merchants can decide how much they want to donate for each order, and also involve their customers, allowing them to add a donation at the checkout. Cents will create a page dedicated to each brand on their website, showing the causes supported and the brands' achievements, with dedicated updates and KPIs.
If you're interested in learning more, you can schedule a call with the founders here.
VIRTUE - UK CHARITY DONATIONS
Virtue - UK Charity Donations is an app developed by Pledger Giving which allows merchants to pick from 20,000 UK charities, such as Sea Shepherd or Women’s Aid. At the moment, the majority of the organisations are headquartered in the UK, but they have charities from all across the world. Any store can request to bring on any new charity that is not on the platform.
Virtue allows merchants to give in three different ways (by picking one or combining all three of them):
- Store giving: give to the causes from product sales (either a fixed amount or a percentage). A monthly limit on the total giving can be set from the app dashboard
- Customer giving: customers can give to one of three causes directly from the store, by selecting the donation amount before or after purchase
- Upsell giving: encourages customers to hit spending miles to generate donations
One of the strengths of Virtue is the variety of widgets that can be displayed on the website. In addition to the classic donation widgets to add to the product page or the cart, you can add an Impact widget that shows how the donations received through the website have affected the causes.
Another interesting one, which leverages one of the latest features released by Shopify (post-purchase extensions) is the post purchase widget. To select this option, you need to navigate to the checkout settings and activate the post-purchase widget from there.
Give&Grow is a free app for donations at the checkout which is extremely flexible and allows merchants to select one or multiple causes to which the final user can donate. You can also choose to devolve the donations to thematic funds - that split the donations to many different organizations with a similar focus (for example protecting the environment or saving abandoned animals).
The final user can pick between rounding up or donating one Dollar/Euro/etc. at the checkout.
The store owner can also choose to donate a percentage of the products price, or a fixed amount per product or order.
One of the advantages of Give&Grow is the donations counter, easily embeddable in homepage to increase the engagement and reassuring customers that many have donated before.
Give&Grow recently published an article about Covid-19 including a list of nonprofits you can select through the app to support fighting the current pandemic. Also in this case many of the organizations featured are from the US, but there's a number or international nonprofits available.
Verdn lets you attach social and environmental pledges to your products that your customers can track post-purchase.
The app was one of the winners in Shopify’s most recent App Challenge, and it has also been featured as a Staff Pick on the Shopify App Store.
The basics of the app are really simple: you choose products from a list, and add one of three types of impact to them (tree planting, ocean plastic cleanup, and COVID relief). Different products can have different types of impacts, and the size of the pledge can also be set per-product. A badge explaining the impact will show up on the relevant product pages, to help inform website visitors.
The real focus of the Verdn app however, is on increasing the customer engagement with your brand. Namely, after you sell a product with a pledge, the customer gets an email with a link to a dashboard where they can track when and where the pledge is carried out, as well as information about the NGO doing it. Verdn claims that the email clickthrough rate to their dashboards are consistently across 20% for merchants — over 10x more than an average marketing email, according to Mailchimp.
The Verdn team say they have an extensive roadmap for 2021 that includes adding in more NGOs, more badge variation, and impact tickers that can be installed on your website. Their dashboards will also get new features to help your customers spread the word on social media, and more. Right now, the Premium version of the app is $29/mo after a trial, and pledges start at $0.75.
OPTION 2: I have already picked the nonprofit to donate to
Apart from Round Up For Charity, that has an option to add your favorite institution to their list, there are many apps with a higher flexibility for the merchant in terms of choosing who to donate to.
Easy Donation, developed by Zestard Technologies, is an app that allows merchants to autonomously add their favorite cause and add much information (links and images included) in the cart page, where the final user can choose to donate. The customer will be able to choose the amount of the donation, having a wider range of choices if compared to the rounding apps.
The basic plan is 4.99$/month, while its premium version, which allows you to donate to more than one organization, costs 7.99$/month. At this link you can find live demos of both plans, including back end and front end insights.
Easy Donation allows you to create a tax receipt for your customers who donated - which will be sent via email.
SHARE THE LOVE
Share the love is a tool to feature one or more causes and have a complete report for each of them, and the respective amounts donated. This is a very flexible app but it's important to clarify that if the donation option is selected (it can be a percentage of the order price or a fixed amount) it won't be the customer adding money but it will be the merchant donating the amount displayed at the checkout.
To better explain with a concrete example: the merchant can decide to donate one euro for every order to a nonprofit, and let the final user choose which between the available nonprofits donate to. The 1 euro donated won't be added to the total, but it will be the merchant donating it to the selected nonprofit in a second moment (his profit from the order will therefore be lower of one euro).
You can also make the donation optional at the checkout, but this might be confusing for the final user.
The advantage of this app is definitely the extreme flexibility and the high customizability allowed (making it very easy to localize it in different languages), at the same time though it requires an extra effort in terms of copywriting in order to clarify who will donate at the checkout.
OPTION 3: I wish to give an extra sustainability boost to my store
There are also some apps that allow you to reduce the impact of your store on the environment, allowing users to "plant trees" or to reduce the carbon footprint of their order with a donation.
Carbon Checkout is an app you can install in a few clicks, and it allows your customers to round up and donate to reduce the carbon footprint of their purchase. All the proceedings from the stores using Carbon Checkout will be used to support a series of projects focused on renewable energies and carboon footprint balancing actions.
This free app represents a great opportunity for those looking for a solution ready to use, easy to install and with a reliable structure behind it. The only negative point is the limited customization options at the checkout, making it not ideal if you need to localize it in languages different from English.
ONE TREE PLANTED AT CHECKOUT
Definitely the most intuitive, flexible and easy to customize option between the ones presented in this article, One Tree Planted allows you to have full control over the copywriting and offers several options to display the request for a donation at the checkout.
It's also possible to pick, from the admin panel of the app, if the one in charge of the donation is the final user or the store owner.
Sprout is a tree planting Shopify app that focuses on helping merchants easily make and market their impact. They provide beautiful no-code marketing assets including product and cart page badges that show the impact you are making as a merchant and as a result, were featured as a Shopify staff favorite on the App Store.
Unlike other apps, Sprout does not charge a monthly subscription and have the lowest per tree cost at $0.15 per tree. This allows merchants to pay for the tree and provide a seamless checkout process. By covering the tree planting cost instead of asking customers to pay for it, merchants create a more frictionless checkout experience and increase conversion.
Beyond trees, Sprout is on a mission to help businesses become more sustainable. Their roadmap includes partnerships with more tree planting organizations as well as offering other products such as carbon offsets and carbon removal through direct air capture, biochar, and carbon mineralization. Check out Sprout at Shopify app store!
Ok, I picked my app and I am ready to start. Anything else I should pay attention to?
Below a short list of recommendations and things to keep in mind when you decide to add a donation option to your e-commerce:
- Always make a double check with your accountant to make sure that the donation settings, tax receipts and transactions are aligned with the local law and structured in a correct way. Many apps allow the final users to donate without passing through the merchant, so it's important to check case by case.
- Make a user test to make sure that the communication of the donation option is understandable and simple to follow through the entire customer journey, and that there is no informative gaps through the process. If you encounter technical or localization issues in setting up the app don't hesitate to get in touch with the app support team, that will be able to assist you in most cases.
- Communicate your new donation option to your customers! Through your newsletter, ad hoc campaigns and dedicated posts it is important to tell the world the great news!
- Remember that the options we have collected today are only some of those available on the Shopify App Store regarding donations and sustainability. Here you can find a wider choice.
If you need further help or support through the installation of the above mentioned apps, we at Nama are happy to give you some guidance during this emergency period and support those merchants that want to contribute collecting funds to fight the Covid-19 emergency. Write us to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll do our best to help you!