Donating to a worthy cause is a great way to send some good vibes out into the world. But did you know you could donate to charity and also boost the sales of your self-published book? At Self-Publishing Relief, we know that “cause marketing” is an effective way to promote your book. But it’s important to do it right in order to avoid legal issues and protect your reputation. Here’s what you need to know about how to support a worthy cause with your self-published book sales.
Support A Worthy Cause Through Cause Marketing
Why should an author consider cause marketing?
Supporting a worthy cause may convince readers to choose your book over another. Nowadays, many consumers prefer brands (and authors!) that support causes they care about. In fact, one global study found that 91% of consumers would switch to a brand that donates to a good cause. So if readers are trying to decide between buying your book or another author’s book, they may be more likely to choose yours if they know the purchase will help support a worthy nonprofit.
Donating some of the proceeds from your book sales to charity is a form of cause marketing for writers. And if you like the idea of promoting your self-published book while also supporting your favorite charity, cause marketing may be for you.
Cause marketing is increasingly popular.
More and more consumers are becoming belief-driven buyers—meaning they are taking steps to ensure they are buying from a business whose values are in line with their own—and brands are responding by publicly defining their stands on important issues. In fact, one study shows that over half of consumers buy based on their beliefs. When today’s buyer makes a purchase that also offers the happiness of “giving back,” brand loyalty can be forged. So supporting a worthy charity may not only boost sales of your current book, but it could also ensure future book sales from loyal readers.
Donating to charity is a win-win scenario!
Both the charity and you as the author benefit from cause marketing. Any money donated to a charity through cause marketing is money that they otherwise may not have received! And it’s a great way to increase visibility for both your book and the charity.
Cause marketing gives people a unique reason to talk about your book—and it can even go viral on social media! When you ask your fans and followers to share an opportunity to donate to a worthy cause, it will feel less like they are engaging in book advertising and more like they are doing good. It can also give bloggers, podcasts, and event organizers a great reason to talk about you or invite you to speak at an event or venue.
Questions To Ask Yourself When Considering A Book Sales Charitable Donation Campaign
- Will you donate a percentage of book sales, or a fixed amount per sale (regardless of book promotion price drop campaigns or other pricing factors)?
- Will you put a cap on your total donation amount? If so, how will you make that clear to buyers? What happens after the cap has been reached?
- Will you donate ONLY if readers purchase their copy from your author website (or another web page you set up)? Or will you donate across all of your retail platforms?
- For how long will your donation campaign run? Forever? Or just on the day of your book launch? Or some other specified duration?
- Are you donating based on net profits or gross profits? In other words, if you’re going to tell people you’re donating a “portion of proceeds,” does that mean you are deducting your personal investment in publishing from the donation equation—or not? What—exactly—do you consider “proceeds”?
- How will you prove that you are making the donation? Will you share sales data? Receipts from the charity in question? Or engage a third party to oversee and verify your donations?
Before You Try Cause Marketing: What You MUST Know
Be sure to fully vet an organization before you offer your support (and your dollars). Websites like Charity Navigator rank nonprofits based on how effectively they use their donations and what percentage of the donations actually go toward the cause (as opposed to administrative costs). Do your research before you launch your cause marketing campaign so you can defend your charity of choice if any questions or criticisms arise on social media.
If you are going to make promises about donating profits from book sales to charity, be ready to share details and embrace transparency and full disclosure. Not only will you need to offer very specific information about what you are planning to donate and how you are planning to donate it, but you must also be prepared to prove that you’ve done what you promised. The more specific you can be about your intentions, the less likely you’ll run into difficult situations. Plus, you’ll be less likely to find yourself in legal hot water. Check out the Better Business Bureau’s guide to donating charitable proceeds.
Remember, lying or inaccuracy—even by mistake—is punishable by law. Charity fraud is a major offense, and Amazon will shut down your sales account, and so will iTunes, Nook, and other organizations. Always be sure to keep clear, detailed records of your sales and donations.
Important Note: We’re not lawyers or accountants. Please speak to a lawyer or accountant with expertise in charity donations if you have any questions or concerns.
How To Set Up Your Book Sales Cause Marketing
It’s important to create a donation opportunity that will work for both you and your book buyers.
Here are a few options:
Create a dedicated web page specifically for book sales and charitable giving. This page of your author website should offer very specific details about your intentions to donate a portion of your self-published book sales. Link to this page wherever you refer to your donation campaign in order to drive traffic to your website.
Include a “donate” button on your author website. PayPal allows you to connect your website visitors with specific charities. With a “donate now” button, it’s easy for visitors to donate fast—even if they don’t want to buy a book. Including a “donate” button that doesn’t require the purchase of a book is a great way to demonstrate your authentic commitment to supporting a charity.
Use a charitable donation app. Apps that allow purchasers to donate a portion of proceeds to charities can be found all over the Internet. For example: This donate-a-portion-of-proceeds app from Shopify could be helpful to writers selling books from their author website. As always, be sure to research any apps or plug-ins (especially those involving money) before you use them. Find more donation-related apps here.
Build the amount you plan to donate into your book’s price. If you’re selling your self-published book mainly on Amazon or Kobo, you might not be able to automatically deduct a portion of the proceeds to donate to the charity you’re supporting. In this case, good accounting will be necessary on your part to ensure that the proper donations are made.
Make your good deeds known. You can dedicate a page on your website to documentation that proves you are donating proceeds of your book sales according to your stated intentions. Supporting documents might include snippets of tax returns (with no personally identifying information), book sales inventories, or other receipts.
And be sure to routinely share updates about your donations in order to demonstrate that your cause marketing campaign is helping to make a real difference in the world.
Share The News About Supporting A Worthy Cause With Your Book Sales
Collaborate! Ask the charity to support your marketing efforts by offering a link to your donations campaign on their websites or social media pages. You can also propose doing a guest blog swap (you blog on their site and they blog on yours).
Post! Keep people updated with the latest news by posting on your blog and social media platforms. Not only will this help them feel good about their role in your donation campaign, but it will also give you an opportunity to reach new readers when followers “like” and “share” your posts.
Promote! You may want to run a high-energy, limited-time-only promotion. For example, perhaps you will double the percentage of your charitable donations during a book price drop promotion. By focusing your marketing efforts within a specific time frame, you may see a bump in book sales.
For self-published authors, cause marketing can be a great way to support a worthy cause while giving your book sales a boost. But be sure to choose your charity carefully and discuss all the details with a lawyer or accountant before you begin.
Question: What charity would you partner with to boost your book sales?