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eBay for Nonprofit Fundraising

by Lori Sampson, MBA, EA, CAM

Online fundraising for charities has evolved well beyond the “Donate” button on the organization website. There’s an array of social media websites now offering ways to solicit and collect funds for your nonprofit organization’s mission. One lesser-known avenue for online fundraising is eBay.

This site, known for allowing people to buy and sell items in an online auction platform, offers nonprofits a few ways to use the site for publicity and fundraising. The most obvious way for a nonprofit to fundraise on eBay is to sell items directly on the site. (Just be sure to follow the rules for Unrelated Business Income Tax, if applicable). You can have a store of items or create a campaign around a single-item or event.

Less obvious is a tool that allows your supporters who sell items on eBay to donate anywhere from 10-100 percent of the proceeds to your organization. It can be a single item in the seller’s inventory or a short-term campaign for an entire store. There are creative examples of organizations using eBay for unique campaigns around an item or event. eBay estimates there is an average of a million items for sale each day to benefit charities.

eBay also allows shoppers to select “favorite” charities. This makes it easier for them to shop items, events, and sellers that support their favorite nonprofits.  

 Last year, $102 million was generated for nonprofits via auctions and sales on eBay. That’s an increase of more than 20 percent over the prior year. The platform is expecting to increase that amount again in 2019. An estimated 66,000 charities use the platform for fundraising. 

If your organization hasn’t looked at eBay in a while, it might be time to give it another glance. The site provides guidance to nonprofits interested in using the site for fundraising. But perhaps the best inspiration can be found by researching what has worked for some of the other 60,000 charities who have used eBay for fundraising.

Lori Sampson is a partner with Myers, Brettholtz & Company, PA and manages the accounting services department.  She has more than 25 years of experience in public and private accounting and is the firm's leading authority for QuickBooks support, aligning information technology with business objectives, and budgeting.

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