Let's Raise Some Money
Insights from Karen Climer about fundraising and nonprofit organizations

Smile Amazon Will Make Amazon Smile. Will It Make Nonprofit Organizations Smile?

November 4th, 2013 by Karen Climer

What an absolutely brilliant marketing strategy!  Amazon will donate 0.5% of your purchase to the charity of your choice.  Here’s how it works: You shop at Smile Amazon. http://smile.amazon.com/  Same products, same price at the regular Amazon.  You pick any charity you want, and Amazon sends 0.5% of your purchases (doesn’t include e-books) to the charity of your choice.  Yes, that is fifty cents per $100.

Here is the full press release from Amazon: http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1870185&highlight=

Amazon’s revenue last year was $61.1 billion.  If every single shopper used Smile Amazon, 0.5% would equate to $305.5 million.  That’s impressive.  BUT, the majority of customers won’t use it Smile Amazon (mostly because they will forget or won’t know about it).  The majority of nonprofits won’t register (mostly because they will forget or won’t know about it).  The nonprofits that do register will spend way too much time promoting Amazon and not enough time on fundraising that matters.  Unfortunately, the smallest nonprofits that are struggling the most are usually the ones that invest the most time, and benefit the least, from these types of programs.

All nonprofit organizations need to register at http://org.amazon.com  Your organization’s name is already on the list (if you are on Guidestar).  But you still have to register if you actually want to receive the money that people are donating.

Amazon is using electronic fund transfer, not checks, to distribute the donations.  Can you imagine how many checks they would be cutting for amounts like $5.36?  You have to earn $5 – that is $1,000 worth of purchases – before they will distribute anything to you.

If you sign up for Smile Amazon, please, please, please, DO NOT INVEST MORE THAN TEN MINUTES ON THIS PROJECT.  Please, please, please do not encourage your donors to purchase things on Amazon instead of making a gift to you.  Do not let them think that they can buy a bunch of books instead of making a gift to you.  THIS IS NOT PHILANTHROPY.  THIS IS NOT FUNDRAISING.

This is a pure genius on Amazon’s part.  Large name-brand nonprofit organizations will do well with this (particularly the organizations that are spotlighted), however I expect the majority of organizations will not be smiling with the results of Smile Amazon.

Posted in Cause-related Marketing

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