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REVIEW: Raising funds for your nonprofit through ShopDonation

I registered Hashtag Nonprofit as a cause on ShopDonation and tested their system. Here is what I found. 

What is ShopDonation?

ShopDonation is a website that uses affiliate marketing, where online retailers pay commissions for referrals, to raise money for causes registered on their system. Shopping at the online shops registered with ShopDonation results in a percentage of the purchase amount being paid to the selected cause.

Kirstyn Liang, co-founder of ShopDonation ZA, explains that they created this system to see how an everyday action like shopping can result in a positive effect, like a pay-it-forward model. “There's so much money in circulation, but it is not distributed in an equitable way. By tweaking the stream of money flow from buyer to seller to advertiser and adding a beneficiary (which the buyer chooses), commercial profits can be redistributed to causes that are doing necessary work in uplifting society. This also enables those who want to do good but don't have a lot of free time or disposable income to still make a small impact by generating donations with their purchases."

How does it work?

As a cause, you can click here to register on the system. There are no costs associated with using this service. You will then receive a custom link that looks something like

Share your custom link with your networks and friends who shop online. They simply need to click on the link, choose an online shop that is registered on ShopDonation and then shop as normal. That’s it! A percentage of their purchase will be paid to your cause.

Which online shops are registered?

There are a surprising number of major online retailers registered, and the list continues to grow. Click here to view the current list and the percentage of the purchase that they donate to your cause.


A small sample of the available stores.

What’s the catch?

Marketing is essential

There is no cost to the cause or the shopper, and the system is fairly simple to use. However, don’t simply set up your cause and then wait for money to magically materialise. You need to actively and continuously market your link to your networks. Include details about the ShopDonation link in your newsletter, social media and website, and regularly remind people to use it.

There are ready-made promotional materials available for causes to use at

Be careful about your choice of username

Note that your supporters do not have to create an account on ShopDonation to use your link. However, if they do, their username, the name of the shop, and the amount they spent will be publicly visible on the ShopDonation website.

I created an account to register Hashtag Nonprofit with my name, “Ruen”, as the username. However, I soon realised that such an obvious username created a huge violation of my privacy, as it made my personal shopping habits visible to the general public. Fortunately, the system allowed me to go back and change the username to something more generic. Keep this in mind before you create an account on the site, or simply shop without logging in to remain anonymous.

What else should I know?

You are unlikely to make large amounts of money, at least in the short term.

The donations will likely be small, but they do add up over time. It is worth setting up your cause if you also take the time to promote and share the link to remind people to use it when they shop.

The goal is to get a group of supporters who make regular purchases to habitually use your link. This way you can get a recurring source of funds, as you would from a small regular donor.

If you find people who make online purchases or travel bookings for their company, encourage them to use your link. This is a great way for a company to support a nonprofit without incurring any additional costs. 

Payouts will take some time

Shopping using your link does not result in an immediate payout. Although the money will show up on your dashboard within a day, it can take months for it to be approved. This is because purchases can be returned, so the purchase needs to be fully finalised before the money can be paid out to you. You can view payout dates and details at

How do I get started?

Click here to register your cause and generate your custom link.

If you have supporters in other countries, you can also register on one of ShopDonation's international sites. ShopDonation is expanding internationally, meaning that causes with supporters in other countries can get multiple sources of funds by registering on the international ShopDonation websites and promoting to their audience abroad. Currently, the websites in the Netherlands (, UK ( and Switzerland ( are running successfully, with many more countries (India, Brazil, Sweden, South Korea, Singapore and Georgia) to come. 

Disclaimer: Hashtag Nonprofit is registered on ShopDonation and the links in this article include our own affiliate links. To support Hashtag Nonprofit when you shop, click here:

Ruen Govinder

Founder and Executive Director, Hashtag Nonprofit

Ruen Govinder is the founder and director of Hashtag Nonprofit. She has over 20 years of experience in consulting and managing online communications and technology for the development sector. She produced a series of e-books on communications strategies for nonprofits, and has worked with clients across Africa and in the United States.

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