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TLC Marketing | 3 min read

Amazon Hopes to Make You Smile

If a large online retailer offered to give your nonprofit a share of purchases made by your supporters, would you be excited? Last year, that’s exactly what Amazon began doing. Through their new platform, AmazonSmile, Amazon will donate 0.5% of eligible sales to a nonprofit of the customer’s choosing. Meaning that for every $100 spent, the Amazon Foundation will send $0.50 directly to your organization. Best of all, the partnership is completely free.

The catch? Customers need to purchase their goods through a specific URL that’s different from the one they usually visit: smile.amazon.com.


How does it work?

The overall process goes a little something like this: you sign your nonprofit up for an AmazonSmile partnership at no cost to you. Your name then gets added to a list of 501(c)(3)s that customers can support when shopping on Amazon. When visiting AmazonSmile, customers will be prompted to select the nonprofit they want to support from the list of participating organizations. They’ll then add items to their cart and check out as they typically do. There are no processing fees, so customers will just be charged for their selected items, and you’ll receive the full 0.5% of their eligible purchases.


Will AmazonSmile be beneficial for you?

While this is an additional opportunity for you to get in front of your supporters and raise funds, studies have shown that the “feel good” sensation people get when donating to a nonprofit is roughly the same whether they give $0.50 via a third-party like AmazonSmile or $20 directly to your organization. For this reason, many nonprofits have been hesitant to sign up for the program for fear that it will ultimately lower their overall giving.

That being said, a partnership could still be beneficial if you target your audience correctly. Your current audience—members, gift membership buyers, or regular donors—should not be targeted in any promotions, as you don’t want to run the risk of them halting their recurring purchases or donations because they already supported you on AmazonSmile. Instead, your target audience should consist of people who are not already financially supporting your organization, such as long-term lapsed members or donors. This will ensure that any funds raised through AmazonSmile are funds that you would have otherwise not received.


How can you make an AmazonSmile partnership work for you?

There are two major ways to make an AmazonSmile partnership work for you.

  1. Be cognizant that you will only receive a small purchase share when crafting your marketing strategy. Given the potential for a low ROI, your marketing strategy should minimize costs by utilizing your current resources including social media, email, and your website. Once you sign up for AmazonSmile, use social media, email, and your website to announce your partnership and showcase how it furthers your mission. Continue promoting your AmazonSmile partnership via email, where you can easily target your lapsed and inactive supporters to make all of their Amazon purchases using the AmazonSmile link.
  2. During the holiday season, send emails to lapsed and inactive supporters that highlight how they can help further your mission while buying the gifts they need. Feature promotions on your social media platforms and website to reinforce your email campaigns and provide ongoing awareness of your AmazonSmile partnership.

To register your organization for AmazonSmile, visit org.amazon.com.

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