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As Thanksgiving sales start and the December dash for
presents begins, charitable giving can get lost in the holiday spending sprees. A
new program from the hands-down winner of online retail could bring new
awareness to allow these two disparate worlds of consumption and charitable
donation to work more harmoniously.
In the spirit of helping others, Amazon recently announced a
new option for gift giving that benefits nonprofits and charities. With the recent
launch of AmazonSmile, customers simply go to smile.amazon.com,
designate a 501(c)(3) organization, shop the same way they would on amazon.com,
and the AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5% of those eligible purchases to the designated
organization — with no maximum. The shopping experience is largely the same,
with the exception of subscriptions and electronic products. Shoppers can change
their designated nonprofit anytime. The nonprofits who sign up do so at no
cost. AmazonSmile even highlights particular charities, rotating them
periodically, and any charity can apply for consideration.
The significance of this move for nonprofits receiving such
donations cannot be understated. Selling more online than its next 12 biggest
competitors combined (see the Wall
Street Journal story), this online giant took home $61 billion in online
sales in 2012. For the millions of people shopping on Amazon every day AmazonSmile
needs only the slightest behavior change — basically, it’s easy for them. They
merely type five more letters in front of the familiar URL, s - m - i - l - e dot
amazon.com. The shopping process is the same, the experience unaltered.
During this time of year, when shopping takes such a prominent
focus, linking supporters to Smile can only help. As a supplement to regular fundraising,
these types of programs work because they needn’t be mutually exclusive with
shopping. They work with consumerism
rather than against it, as social awareness movements like #GivingTuesday
attempt to alter shopping behavior.
So while the developed world spends on a new party outfit or the
latest toys for their children, a small portion of that can go to feed
the hungry, fight disease, protect the environment, and otherwise promote good in the world.
This is not a new concept, of course: eScrip, iGive, and Yahoo’s goodsearch goodshop are just
a few examples of similar programs that work across many different merchants. Consumers
can designate a charity to receive a small portion of purchases made at
participating merchants, both online through merchant coupons and links as well
as in stores. These programs enable shoppers to donate merely by making their
normal purchases. The difference is they don’t have the consumer recognition
that Amazon does and usually involve some extra steps.
Nonprofits can visit org.amazon.com
to access tools to help spread the word to their supporters, including a
downloadable website banner linking to a customized AmazonSmile landing page
(that's how I found it) and social sharing widgets for Facebook and Twitter. Limitations do exist,
though. Participating nonprofits are restricted from promoting the program by email
and other offline marketing channels.
A wealth of options exist for nonprofits and charities to
raise funds online and take advantage of the shopping season, of course, far beyond
AmazonSmile or even your own Amazon storefront. TechSoup is not related to AmazonSmile in the same way as with donors on techsoup.org (though we do appear to be listed as a charity recipient option under "The CompuMentor Project"). TechSoup does offer discounts for a
variety of other donation and fundraising tools though. Two of our most popular online
shopping options include the discounted subscriptions for a Shopify store and a
Teespring T-shirt campaign.
Wherever you shop, enjoy your holiday season!
Carolyn Cotney | TechSoup Copywriter
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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