How to Start a Non-Profit eBay Store
Updated: Oct 13, 2021
Currant has launched CurrantFinds: an eBay store that generates funds for the non-profit modern burial initiative! Selling (or reselling) on eBay is an enjoyable and marketable way to get donations for your non-profit. The platform is unmatched in its userbase, and you have an unlimited amount of items that you can choose to flip for profit. From apparel to car parts, there is quite literally something for everyone on eBay. Why not make some passive income fundraising and investing in products that you are passionate about?
Do you own (or want to start) a non-profit that can fundraise by selling on eBay? Read on to find out how we started - and why we love it!
1. Get an EIN and register as a 501(c)(3).
Skip to the second half if you've already done this!
In order to link your eBay store to your non-profit, you will first need to obtain an EIN (Employer Identification Number) and register to become a 501(c)(3). The latter allows your organization to be recognized as tax-exempt by the IRS. Learn if you are qualified and how to apply here. You also need an EIN (yes, even if you aren't planning on having any actual employees!). This will help you in many situations where you need to sign up for storefronts or business accounts, not just eBay.
As with anything that deals with the government, the 501(c)(3) application process may take a while. In fact, as of November 21, 2020 when we are writing this post, we haven't received our letter of confirmation yet! But we still have an eBay store. How is that possible?
2. Register for a business eBay profile - before you hear from the IRS.
While you're waiting to hear back on your 501(c)(3) status, you can get a head start on your eBay business. An EIN is a lot quicker and easier to obtain. So once you have that secured, keep note of it! You'll need it down the line. But now you can open an eBay account.
Now, eBay does have eBay for Charity, but we will come back to this later. In the meantime, you should get everything set up to see if this is something you would really like to invest time into! Once you get started, though, it is quite easy (and even fun).
- Set up your eBay account. There are 2 types of accounts: individual and business. You will want to choose business! This way, your User ID is linked to a business. If you've already signed up as an individual in the past, you can edit this in your account settings.
- Register with your legal business name (the one you chose when getting your EIN!), and pick an eBay User ID that is similar. Ours is CurrantFinds.
3. DON'T pay the eBay subscription fee to have a storefront - yet.
You will notice that some larger eBay sellers will have what is called a storefront in addition to their seller account. This isn't necessary in order to sell on eBay. You can still list and sell items up to a certain amount (that you likely won't hit for a while, unless you go VERY HAM right away). This is what ours looks like, and it resets every month:
Now, keep in mind that there are fees associated with selling on eBay. There are insertion fees, value fees, and PayPal fees (unless you are reading this once eBay has moved you to managed payments! That will likely be in 2021). Read more about those fees here. The subscription plans are helpful once you hit a certain selling point, but if you are under 200 listings per month, we don't recommend it. This video helped us when deciding whether or not we needed to pay the eBay subscription price or not! It's all individualized, however, so make sure you keep track of your own ROI.
You will also receive a certain amount of free (no fee) listings a month! This is what yours looks like at the time of writing this post:
As you can see, we have 120 free listings left, and that will reset next month. These are promotional offers, but as long as you stay consistent, it seems like they're available every month! At least, that's what we have noticed. And if you go over those no-fee listings, you will still just pay the normal insertion and value fees for the type of items you are listing.
Anyway, let's talk a bit more generally about how to get your eBay store for your non-profit up and running.
4. List what you already have.
In order to test the waters, try looking around your home for unused items that you wouldn't mind selling! This will get you used to the listing and shipping process.
5. Get some free shipping supplies from the USPS.
When first starting out, you can order free shipping supplies (with free shipping!) from the USPS store. This will help - just make sure to choose First Class Shipping (or whatever correlates to your shipping box of choice!) when listing and choosing a shipping option.
6. Make your logo and banner consistent with your non-profit.
7. Include verbiage in your seller bio that talks about (and links to!) your non-profit organization.
8. Include social links in your profile that take interested users to your social profiles.
9. Don't limit yourself on what you can sell on eBay!
Once you've gotten the hang of selling knickknacks or old tech from around your house, here are some other areas that you might consider venturing into:
- Retail arbitrage
- Thrifted items
- Wholesale bundles
- Graphic tees (with your logo or tagline - or sayings that align with your brand) - Pens
- Tote bags
- Tie-dyed items
Get creative! This doesn't have to relate back to your non-profit initiative, but it should represent who you are as a non-profit business owner. And you should have fun with it, most importantly. This will come across more genuine and lead to more social engagement from buyers.
10. Include thank you notes (or free promo items) in each order.
Include personalized notes in each order. When you're first starting out, it's easy enough to handwrite these (rather than spend money to get them printed!). Think of them like business cards - Include your social profile links and website URL to urge them to check out what you do. They'll appreciate the sentiment - especially if it's creative and cute!
Similarly, it's nice to start customizing your packaging. Get some bubble and poly mailers that match your style! I like these black and white plaid ones from Amazon.
Or you can even get plain, inexpensive ones to start, like these Kraft gold colored bubble mailers we use for comic book packaging.
11. Follow other resellers for more tips.
Our favorites include Essential Endeavors, Ralli Roots, and HustleatHomeMom. We will also post here in the future with more tips and tricks for general eBay reselling!
Once you get your 501(c)(3) status, start here:
12. Onboard your non-profit to eBay.
Here are the official eBay instructions on how to do this!
You can also join the eBay Community Forum and chat with other Direct Sellers using eBay for non-profit fundraising.
There are a few simple steps you must follow in order to link your charity with eBay as a platform. This way, it will show up in charity searches by buyers, and you can link your eBay seller account to your charity (Direct Selling - see below!).
- Open a PayPal Business account;
Tip: If you already have a PayPal account linked to your personal banking info, you will likely have to also set up a business bank account. They won't open duplicate PayPal accounts.
- Enroll in PayPal Giving Fund and provide your profile info;
- Verify that your charity info appears correctly on eBay. Check that you've done this correctly searching for your non-profit name on the PayPal Giving Fund site. Then search on eBay's Charity Search to ensure that you are all set up. It will normally take 1-2 days after completion to show up in these searches!
Note: This may change in the future when eBay merges all accounts to Managed Payments rather than PayPal only. Please check the website for updated information. As of 11/21/20, managed payments are not available for Direct Sellers/non-profit charity eBay sellers yet.
For now, it will all be through the PayPal Giving Fund. This shouldn't take any processing time if you are a Direct Seller, but it goes into the PayPal Giving Fund before it is released to your charity if you are receiving funds from donations or Community Sellers.
13. Add yourself (and anyone else) as a Direct Seller.
A Direct Seller is an eBay account that is run by anyone that has permission to sell directly on the behalf of your non-profit. 100% of the proceeds will then be linked to that PayPal account. In this instance, it may just be you with your non-profit PayPal Business account! And that's okay. In order to do this, you must:
- Log in to the eBay account that you wish to make a Direct Seller;
- Head to Direct Selling for Charity;
- And click the button that says 'Connect with PayPal'.
Make sure you are logging into the correct PayPal Business account that is connected to your non-profit's banking information. This way, all of the sales on your eBay store will now benefit your charity 100%! They were before, but now you get more perks, such as:
- No listing or final value fees
- Ability to earn from Community Selling
14. Utilize Community Selling.
With eBay for Charity, your non-profit can now come up in searches when users are looking to sell for a cause! Essentially, there are 4 ways that eBay users can help fund your non-profit:
Buying items directly from your Direct Seller eBay store;
Donating to your non-profit at checkout;
Donating directly with the Donate Now button;
Becoming a Community Seller.
With #4, Community Sellers can choose to donate a percentage of their sales to your charity. It doesn't have to be 100%! It also cuts their eBay fees by that percentage, so it helps them out along the way. Make sure your audience knows this! Here is more info on Community Seller processes.
These are all possible through the eBay Charity Search tool. Once they find your charity on eBay, they will have the option to do any of the 4 donation choices listed above! Pretty cool, isn't it?
Of course, you may get traction from this just from having your own eBay store and buyers taking interest in your non-profit. This is ideal! However, you can also promote donations through eBay by:
- Posting your eBay store on social media;
- Linking to the eBay Charity Search tool;
- Providing easy instructions to donate through eBay;
- Linking to your eBay store and the search tool on your website/blog posts!
Remind them that whatever percentage they choose to donate will reduce their listing and final value fees from selling on eBay! It's a win-win.