Board member blog post: The JAWS Marketplace, coming soon to a digital device near you

iphone-624709_640By Pamela Moreland, JAWS Board Member

In a world when goods and services are at your fingertips 24/7, isn’t it time that you’re to be able to order JAWS gear anytime, anywhere, from any mobile device?

Yes, it is time. And soon, that dream will be a reality.

For almost a year, the JAWS board has been working on a plan to create the JAWS Marketplace, an online home for JAWS goods. From coffee mugs to T-shirts, reusable canvas bags to iPhone covers and yoga pants, the JAWS Marketplace will be the digital headquarters for merchandise emblazoned with JAWS logos.

The JAWS Marketplace will be an affiliate of Café Press, an online retailer of user-customized, on-demand products. The company has a history of working with nonprofits and journalism groups. the Society of Professional Journalists, which has a marketplace affiliation with Café Press, is just one of the organizations that sell goods through Café Press.

Why Café Press? Well the board reviewed several online retailers. Café Press waives many of its start-up fees for nonprofits. It has experience working with small organizations and they will assign a real person to work with us. As PC Magazine says, Café Press offers “expansive service for creating custom goods of all kinds. Quick shipping. Professional results. Great for when you need a ‘blank canvas’ template.”

Café Press will handle orders, shipping products, billing customers and managing customer service. What’s more, since JAWS is not the retailer (that’s Café Press), the organization doesn’t have to worry about accounting for sales tax, which varies jurisdiction to jurisdiction throughout the country.

JAWS will earn 15 percent commission from all products purchased through Café Press.

This new initiative will not jeopardize in any manner the nonprofit status of JAWS, according to attorneys and the JAWS accountant. Depending on how much revenue is raised through the year-round availability of JAWS merchandise, there could be tax implications.

Marian Katz, the JAWS New York City-based accountant, said: “The activities are considered ‘unrelated business activities.’ There is a $1,000 exemption. The first $5,000 is taxed at 15 percent.”

Math has never been my strong suit; that’s one reason I got into journalism. But let’s say that JAWS earns $5,000 in commissions from marketplace sales this year. That would translate into $750 owed to the IRS.

Now, selling enough JAWS T-shirts, hoodies, yoga pants, coffee mugs and canvas grocery bags to hit the $5,000 a year mark is a high goal. The real goal of this effort is to start creating steady revenue streams for JAWS. Currently, JAWS gets a large transfusion of money at the end of the year from our annual conference and from our end-of-the-year fundraising drive.

The frugal women that we are, this money usually lasts us for the entire year. So with members paying their annual dues and from donations, JAWS operates in a safe zone of solvency.

That said, our organization’s financial stability would be even stronger if there were a steady cash-flow stream throughout the year. Selling JAWS merchandise on Café Press would give members an opportunity to purchase goods whenever they want. Revenues will start flowing to JAWS when we meet the quarterly minimum of $50 in commissions.

You read that correctly, $50 in commissions is the minimum quarterly threshold the organization has to meet in order to start revenues flowing into our bank account.

“With Café Press you can create and sell an amazing variety of products with no up-front costs and no inventory worries,” says Deane Brengle, the editor of several free online publications that cover fundraising for small nonprofit groups.

“Your group can set up your own online store at Café Press and sell your own personalized products 24/7, 365 days a year. You pick the products you want to sell, personalize them, and set your own prices. Café Press does the rest. It couldn’t be easier.”

Over the next few weeks, you will start to see links and postings on JAWS digital sites — from our website to regional Facebook Pages and our social media networks — about the JAWS Marketplace.

Shop early, shop often and have a great time helping JAWS.

If you’re looking for another painless way to help JAWS, use Goodsearch as your default search engine. It uses Yahoo, but JAWS gets about a penny for every search. (You can always switch to Google for specialized searches.) Goodsearch also offers Goodshop, where a percentage of your online purchases at many stores goes to JAWS.

Oh, and Café Press is on Goodshop, with lots of coupons. Now that’s a great way to double dip!