Get Donations Every Time Your Supporters Shop on Amazon
A step-by-step guide to getting passive donations that don’t cost your supporters a dime!
Annual spending on Thanksgiving Weekend—including the week leading up to Black Friday, ending in Cyber Monday—was over $70 billion in 2015. Amazon accounted for over 25 billion of those dollars spent.
What if you could get a percentage of that, and the over $100bn spent on Amazon in 2015, without having to ask for money or costing your donors a dime? Thanks to AmazonSmile, you can! And it’s easy to do.
Donated to charities by AmazonSmile as of August 2016
Here’s what you need to know to get your nonprofit started in under five minutes:
What is AmazonSmile?
AmazonSmile is a foundation operated by Amazon that donates 0.5% of all eligible purchases on Amazon (which is nearly everything they offer) to a charity of the shopper’s choosing. It doesn’t cost the shopper anything, and there are no fees for the organization, either.
Which organizations are eligible?
- Any 501(c)3 nonprofit in good standing (listed on GuideStar).
- Only U.S. organizations can participate at this time.
- Fiscally-sponsored organizations cannot participate, since they don’t have a 501(c)3 entity registered.
TIP: If your organization fiscally sponsors others, you could ask them to promote your AmazonSmile account as a gesture of gratitude for your services.
What do you need to get started?
- Your organization’s name or EIN — In our tests, even part of a name was effective in finding the organization in Amazon’s database, which is pulled from GuideStar.
- An email address associated with the organization — Any email address to send updates and questions if needed.
- Your bank routing and account numbers — Most easily found on your checks, or by logging in to your bank account online.
- A voided check or bank statement to verify your bank account info.
How long does it take to set up?
The entire registration process takes less than five minutes, if you have all of your materials ready.
Watch Boris set up a client’s AmazonSmile program from start to finish in under five minutes.
How do you collect donations?
Once you’re signed up and your banking information is verified, you’re all set! Amazon will then send money directly to your account every quarter… assuming there is at least $5 in accrued donations—i.e., all of your supporters combined have spent more than $1000 since your last payment. If not, it will sit in your “account” for either 1 year or whenever you do reach $5.
How much can you get?
There are no limits to the amount your nonprofit can receive. It all depends on how many people are shopping with AmazonSmile and have chosen yours as their cause of choice. If you have 500 supporters on AmazonSmile, who each spend an average of $1,000 in a year, you would receive $2,500.
Telling Your Supporters About AmazonSmile
How can you publicize your AmazonSmile account to your supporters?
Now that you’re set up to receive donations from AmazonSmile, you can sit back and hope people discover your cause (or that you get spotlighted by AmazonSmile). Or you can spend another few minutes to add it to your website or create a campaign that gets people to take action.
Amazon offers a few simple ways to publicize your participation in AmazonSmile:
- Social media posts
- Website widgets/banners
- Email (with some restrictions—see below)
Following this link will set YOUR nonprofit as the supporter’s default beneficiary every time they shop AmazonSmile.
Click the “1” to see Jewcer’s link in action.
Generate the HTML code to embed a “widget” or “banner” on your website, with a button that takes users to the same page as the link.
Email is the strongest way to reach your true fans online, but how you can promote AmazonSmile varies slightly from state to state. Amazon has some clear guidelines, including the stipulation that you can only promote AmazonSmile through electronic media (like email, social media, etc.). In some states, however, you can’t send an email that’s solely about your AmazonSmile participation.
“Charitable organizations headquartered in one of the states listed below may not send emails that exclusively advertise AmazonSmile, although these organizations may include information about AmazonSmile in emails, such as email newsletters, that also contain other content unrelated to AmazonSmile. These states are: AL, AR, CO, DC, FL, HI, ID, IL, IA, LA, ME, MD, MI, MN, MS, MO, NE, NM, OH, OK, RI, SC, SD, UT, VT, and WY.”
All other states are fine for an exclusive email, or as part of a larger message.
Email Tip: Feature AmazonSmile in an email as part of a broader “easy ways to support us,” and list one or two other quick ways people can donate or volunteer.
We also suggest putting info, links and banners on your:
- Website sidebars and footers
- Donate page
- Other “Support Us” pages
Getting Supporters to Use AmazonSmile
One complication of AmazonSmile is that shoppers have to begin their shopping experience by going directly to “smile.amazon.com”—not simply “amazon.com” as we are all used to. Even the most well-intentioned supporters may forget to do that or get tired of manually changing links they get from other sites or emails.
Fortunately, Josh Haimson and Dan Elitzer decided to make this problem easy to solve for anyone using the Chrome browser (which accounts for over 57% of web browsing today). It’s called “SmileAlways” and we highly recommend it!
What is SmileAlways?
It’s a simple Chrome extension that automatically redirects shoppers to AmazonSmile, without breaking the link, making donating to their favorite charity (hopefully yours!) easy. Whether a user clicks on a link in their email or types amazon.com into their searchbar, they wind up on the AmazonSmile version of the page. In other words, it’s a set-it-and-forget-it tool to get your supporters donating while shopping on Amazon.
Note: We featured SmileAlways in our “7 Free Online Tools You Can’t Afford Not to Use” guide, and in our Tool Reviews section. Links to both are at the bottom of this article.
Next Steps for Your Organization
Steps You Can Take Right Now to Get Started and Increase Your Impact
- Enroll in Amazon Smile: https://org.amazon.com/
- Send an Email to your supporters (using the email guidelines above)—include your AmazonSmile link and a link to SmileAlways
- TIP: Send a separate email to your board members. For anyone so closely invested in your organization’s success, this should be an easy win!
- Schedule a few social media posts
- Add the widget or a link on your website sidebars and/or footer
- Add AmazonSmile (and SmileAlways) info to your website’s Donate and/or other “Support Us” pages
- Get our free guide of 7 Free Online Tools Your Non-Profit Can’t Afford Not to Use for more fund-raising, cost-saving, easy-to-implement ideas.