National Park ServiceU.S. Department of the Interior
Partnership header Roundtable discussion in a conference room setting

Establishing An Online Store

Web hosting services can be free for nonprofit organizations. A typical charge is $10/month. If an organization plans to take credit cared information over the Internet, make sure its Web host has the capability of supporting secure forms. Secure online store hosting can be found for about $30 to $40 per month.

Generally plan to spend up to $35 annually to register a domain name. Discounts are available for pre-payment, and some registrants such as Go Daddy ( and will register a name for $10 or less.

It's easy to qualify for merchant status in order to accept credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover online. An organization's bank can typically set up a merchant account. There are numerous financial institutions willing to establish such an account on the Web. Start up fees, account maintenance fees, per transaction fees, and the bank's percentage of sales fee for processing each transaction varies by financial institution and may be negotiable.

An alternative to a merchant account is a third-party payment processor that accepts credit cards for an organization using a secure, online platform. PayPal ( provides this service as well as the tools to develop an online store such as shopping carts, invoices, and shipping/tracking management services. PayPal typically charges a fee of from 1.9% to 2.9% (depending on sales volume) plus 30 cents per transaction. There are additional fees for foreign currency transactions. More than 80 million individuals have PayPal accounts. In June 2005, PayPal established a new system, Website Payments Pro, to accept credit cards directly on a site without having a merchant account.

Through online merchandising, park partners not only generate earned income but can also create greater awareness of Park's themes and features and also brand both the park and the nonprofit partners. The use of these products provides increase visibility for the park throughout the community. Online merchandising can include:

Sample book
Sample calendar
Sample notecards
Note Cards
Sample poster
Sample cd-rom
CD Roms
Sample dvd
Sample magnet
Sample lapel pin
Lapel Pins
Sample patch
Sample tin of chocolates
Sample fanny packs
Fanny Packs
Sample tote bag
Tote Bags

Make sure that people can return the product if they are not happy with it. People are more willing to purchase a product on the Web when there is a return policy. There should be a liberal refunds and returns policy clearly posted on the site. This is a good business practice and helps avoid alienating a customer and a potential donor.

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