As a non-profit or charity, you want as many pennies as possible to go towards your cause. That’s why the idea of spending money on promotional products may seem downright crazy.

Still, hear me out! Fundraising is an important part of what you do and little gifts like pens and water bottles with your logo, name, and contact information (aka promotional products) can go a long way. In fact, there’s proof that this strategy works, and rest assured, there are ways for it to work for your budget!

Without further ado, let’s dive right into all the ways promotional products can help your non-profit or charity.

How Promotional Products Help Non-Profits

Whether it’s free stuff at your fundraiser or branded items for sale in a gift shop, it’s well worth making promotional items part of marketing your non-profit or charity.

You’re going to see way more:

  • Donations
  • Volunteers
  • Awareness
  • Recommendations

It may seem crazy in this digital world to think about marketing somewhere other than on social media or through email. That’s why you might be blown away to see the numbers when it comes to using promotional giveaways*!

Millennials are most likely to make a donation to a charity of non-profit, and they’re 75% more likely to spend money after receiving a gift! You don’t have to spend outrageous money on the most extravagant branded gift for these youngsters. You can find trendy giveaways, like water bottles and fidget spinners, for a reasonable price.

That’s not all! The National Bureau of Economic Research studied donation rates for Red Cross sites across Ohio and found that the promise of a freebie resulted in 9.5% more donations. It just goes to show people want something tangible that reminds them of their good deed.

Which Non-Profits Use Promotional Products?

Big name non-profits and charities have found success using promotional giveaways. The organizations featured here are always raising the bar with how they receive donations.

  1. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
  2. Livestrong
  3. American Heart Association
  4. Girl Scouts of America
  5. The World Wildlife Fund

1. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital


St. Jude is one of many organizations that have an online gift shop. Not only that, but they also send out branded freebies in their mailers like notepads and other office supplies.

It costs $2.2 million daily to keep St. Jude in operation and every cent earned from their gift shop goes toward research and keeping the facility running.

What you can learn:  Successful marketing is all about the give and take. Offer your customers something small for free, while also selling more stylish, high-end items in an online gift shop.

2. Livestrong


Think about “Livestrong” and you might remember the rubber yellow wristbands from the early 2000s.

According to the company’s website, they received about $100 million in donations as a result of these simple bracelets.

What you can learn:  Keep your finger on the pulse of what’s trending. For example, branded PopSockets are currently on everyone’s phone, so it might be a good idea to make them part of your strategy.

3. American Heart Association


As part of their “Go Red for Women” campaign, the American Heart Association released these clever socks with an important message.

While socks can’t improve your health, money raised from these and other promo items goes toward supporting women like Holly Weigle who survived three heart attacks and is a proud advocate of the organization.

What you can learn:  Creativity pays off in spades. The oddball items, like message socks, are unique enough to get attention and cool enough to be purchased.

4. Girl Scouts of America


There’s nothing sweeter than Girl Scout cookies, especially when it comes to advertising.

From Thin Mints to Peanut Butter Sandwiches, a whopping 21% of the money earned from these promotional treats goes right back to the troops to pay for supplies and uniforms.

What you can learn:  There’s value in consistency. The Girl Scouts of America have built a reputation of being cookie connoisseurs since 1917. People now associate these tasty treats with their organization.

5. The World Wildlife Fund


The World Wildlife Fund sells beautiful coloring books in their gift shop. These books are designed for both adults and children and give a brief bio on the organization and information about various animals.

It costs $55 to adopt one of their animals and money from their promo gifts helps keep the process running smoothly.

What you can learn:  The best non-profits know the value of storytelling. Your products should tug at people’s heartstrings and encourage them to feel connected to your cause.

Your non-profit can host shoe drive fundraisers, collect money to cure an illness, be dedicated to education, or work with animals. It doesn’t matter what your cause – there’s a way to incorporate non-profit promotional products into your marketing strategy.

Above all, make sure you give and take to your donors, stay trendy, tell a story, and remain creative and consistent.

What Are the Best Promotional Products for Non-Profits?

As a non-profit or charity, you don’t have the same budget as the big guys like Coca-Cola and Apple. No matter what you have to spend, though, there are giveaway options that will win over the crowd and help you gain awareness. In fact, you can find plenty for under $1.

Here are the most affordable promotional products for non-profits:

  • Stress balls
  • Plastic water bottles
  • Canvas tote bags
  • Mini notebooks
  • Sunglasses
  • Stadium cups
  • Beach balls
  • Pens
  • Cell phone wallets
  • Lip balm

The power of these items comes after your event, whether it’s a 5K fundraiser or a community picnic. You reap the rewards when the visitor is using their tote bag at the grocery store and someone asks where they got it. Or when they pick up a pen to jot down a note and remember you when it comes to making donations over the holidays.

These items serve as simple reminders in people’s daily lives to give your organization more time and attention. And in this busy world, that is more important now than ever!

How Non-Profits Use Corporate Sponsors

Another great option for funding is to look into corporate sponsors. A little boost from these organizations can go a long way and help you pay for your promotional items. In fact, 79% of customers would donate to a nonprofit associated with a trusted brand. Reach out to some local companies and see if they’d be interested in partnering with you!

Whether you get your promo items for free or find some help from a sponsor, it’s well worth making these branded giveaways part of your marketing strategy.

Final Thoughts

Promotional products never expire or disappear. Unlike internet ads or TV commercials, they’re hard to ignore because they’re physically available in our everyday lives. People will hang onto these items for years, and in doing so, have a constant reminder of your non-profit or charity.

Whether they’re using branded sticky notes at their desk, chowing down on delicious chocolates with your logo, or squeezing on a custom stress ball, these items will stand by their side as much as you stand by your respective cause. It’s time to make promotional items part of your organization!


Kapin, A. Ninety Percent of Consumers Want Companies to Support Causes. Retrieved from

Plumb Marketing. Are You in NonProfit? These Top Promotional Products Are for You. Retrieved from

Grant Space. How Many Nonprofit Organizations Are There in the U.S.? Retrieved from

King, J. How to Turn Millennials Into Repeat Shoppers? Give Them Free Stuff. Retrieved from

NP Source. The Ultimate List of Charitable Giving Statistics for 2018. Retrieved from

Woodruff, M. People Are Much More Likely to be ‘Charitable’ When They Get Free Goodies. Retrieved from

Qgiv. Fundraising Statistics: Incredible Insights to Raise More. Retrieved from

Gordy, J. 10 Year-End Giving Statistics Every Fundraiser Should Know. Retrieved from 

Alton, L. The Value of Free: How Businesses Benefit from Giving Stuff Away. Retrieved from

About the author

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a promo expert with over four years of experience in the industry. She is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products and has had work published for the Promotional Products Association International and the Advertising Specialty Institute.