by: Shannon Dobbs

Note: Affiliate links are used in this article.  If a linked product is purchased On Common Ground [EIN 81-1626577] may earn a small commission which will not increase the cost of the product. All proceeds earned will be used to support nonprofit food resilience efforts in line with our Charitable Mission.  Learn more by visiting our Disclosure Page.  

On Common Ground just earned its first $1.35, and it didn’t cost us a dime.

Okay, so $1.35 isn’t a lot of money.  It certainly isn’t enough to put a dent in our educational program funding requirements, which just got axed in October. 

Still, it is a huge accomplishment. 

OCG has been working for five years to secure funding support for our Justice-based nutritional food access and educational programs.  We thought we finally had our foot in the door: Nevada SNAP-Ed, a division of the USDA SNAP program, funded OCG for the 2019-2020 fiscal year to implement a nutritional educational program in collaboration with several dozen partner organizations. 

Then OCG got word last fall that funding would not be continued for the next fiscal year, due to massive COVID-related shortfalls in federal funds distribution.  Like many, many nonprofits across the country OCG was forced to lay off our staff and instructors, and now we are essentially “dead in the water” until we find another sponsor. 

Fortunately, SNAP-Ed is not the only potential funding source.  Unfortunately, there are 1.7 Million nonprofits in the US and the vast majority are competing for the same resource pool.  Worse, OCG is a relatively new organization, and many funding opportunities have expense minimums, audit requirements, and other restrictions which disqualify OCG from even applying.  I began to despair that OCG would make it through this pandemic and wondered if we would become one of the one-third of nonprofits across the country projected to close in the next year

Eureka!!  The answer came to me in the kitchen, of course.  I was chopping some onions using our Mueller Austria Pro-Series Vegetable Chopper, a nifty little device my wife and I had discovered a couple of years earlier which helps me to prepare meals at home despite arthritis in my hands.  I had the thought that it would be amazing if OCG could turn more seniors and disabled on to this tool.  What if we could show people how great this and other products are for empowering home meal preparation, AND create sustainable revenue in the process?

Then I started researching Affiliate Marketing, a potential a game-changer. The benefits are clear. No storefront.  No upfront costs.  No processing fees.  No staffing requirements. In truth, I could feasibly operate the program by myself! 

On paper, this was the dream.   But would it work?  Only one way to find out! 

Since OCG already has an active web platform, my first step was applying for Amazon’s associate’s program.  Later, I plan to partner directly with suppliers when possible.  I then created a disclosure page to comply with FTC endorsement guidance.  Amazon sent our approval quickly, including a link to access an affiliate dashboard which generates product links uniquely coded to our account.

Easy!

The hard(er) part is showing people a reason to buy the product.  For OCG that means continuing to do what we already do; sharing tips to help our community tackle challenges of staying healthy in food deserts and with limited tools.  The difference is that as an affiliate we can now spotlight products which address these needs directly, while supporting the organization.

Cha-CHING!!  I could almost hear the money hitting our account and can easily imagine the process accelerating over time.  Amazon’s commission scale is different for different products.  Kitchen gear is 4.5%.  The chopper costs $29,95, which comes out to $1.35.   That is not a lot of money by anyone’s reckoning.  But it IS a start.  More importantly for me it is progress, a win.  And that is something that OCG, and many other organizations, are desperately in need of.

At this rate it will be a while before OCG fully funds our charitable mission.  Of course this is only the beginning of our journey into affiliate marketing.  We still need to incorporate our Google Ad Grant to help us connect with our target audience, which has now become national in scope.  We will continue improve on writing affiliate articles, tracking our progress, and connecting these and other powerful tools with the people who need them most. 

People like you.   

Because in every way that matters, that IS the mission.