UPDATE JANUARY 2023: the AmazonSmile service will cease in February 2023. Read our new blog on this announcement from Amazon to find out more.
Amazon has its many detractors, but is hard to ignore as a product source of just about anything and everything that are usually sold at prices so competitive that it’s hard to pass them by. So, a small concession in using the service if you find them less than ideal ethically is to at least make the switch to Amazon Smile.
If you make the switch whilst doing your general shopping on Amazon, you are able to donate a percentage of all the products you buy on the platform to a charity of your choosing. What makes this an attractive fundraising option is that there is no extra charge to the shopper: Amazon takes a proportion of what you’ve bought and gives it to the charity of your choice.
We set up an Amazon Smile account for our client Arts Derbyshire and so we thought it would be a good idea to put together a quick how to guide as useful information for any charities out there who also want to raise cash for themselves in this way.
There are four simple steps to take:
This is the first step to setting up an Organization Administration Account. An Organization Administration Account should be registered to an official representative of your charity. This person will have the authority to access and manage your charity’s Amazon Smile account, so make sure you grant access to an appropriate person and use their email address, which is the one that will be used for logging into the account going forwards.
Search for your official charity name (which might not exactly match your public or your “trading name“); this is the one that is registered with the Charities Commission. There could be many others that are similarly named so don’t accidentally choose somebody else’s charity! You can also look for your charity by using your registered charity number, and is a number that is unique to your organisation. Continue to the next page and fill out all the appropriate details in the form before clicking the “Create Your OrgCentral Account” button.
You’ll receive an email with a One Time Password (OTP). This should happen immediately, but if not, give it a few minutes before trying again. If you still haven’t received the email and it is not in your SPAM folder, click “Resend OTP” at the bottom of the page.
After this point, you then can go on to complete your administration profile. Fill in all the details following the on-screen prompts, check the “AmazonSmile Participation Agreement” checkbox, and then click on “Send Email Verification”.
Once again, you should receive the email instantly. It will contain a link with that you must click on to complete the enrolment process. The link in the email will take you to the organisation page.
From this point, you can add your organisation’s bank account details which will enable you to start receiving donations.
This is the last step and the most necessary one to allow your charity to become available for donations through the Amazon Smile website.
You should now be able to search for and select your charity when you are logged into smile.amazon.co.uk.
Unfortunately this, and indeed many charitable fundraising options through businesses like Amazon, Facebook and PayPal etc. require that you are set up as an official charity and are registered with the Charities Commission.
So if you are already a registered charity, then you can go ahead and set up an Amazon Smile account. If your organisation is structured slightly differently, you might want to consider going down the route of registering as a charity.
Through this initiative, enrolled organisations receive a 0.5% donation from all eligible purchases made by Amazon customers without any additional out-of-pocket costs to either the Amazon customer or the charity.
Donations are paid out to charities at least once a year, and are typically made within 28 days after the end of every calendar quarter. This is provided that the amount of money raised for the charity meets the minimum £5.00 requirement. If this amount is not available, then whatever money was raised will roll over to the next calendar quarter.
If you login to your Organisation Account you will see a section offering marketing tools. In here you will be able to generate a web address that will, when clicked, immediately switch the person who clicked it into smile.amazon.co.uk rather than the main website at www.amazon.co.uk. It also immediately switches that person’s profile to donating to your charity in a one-click process which makes it super simple for them to understand and to action.
If you want to see this in action, here is the link that will switch your Amazon account to a smile account and to start supporting Arts Derbyshire (they are really lovely people, working hard to raise cash, so it would be *great* if you left it at this setting too): https://smile.amazon.co.uk/ch/1184423-0
To help more people become aware of your charity on the Amazon platform, it’s a great idea to make a link on your website or to write a blog about it to guide people to search for you by name. Putting out social posts to remind people to make the switch on a frequent basis is a helpful way to raise awareness for your charity and your request for donations too. You can also use things like regular newsletters to encourage people to make the switch.
As a creative way of looking at it, when big shopping events come up like Christmas or Mother’s Day you can put out some social posts and blogs to encourage people to donate by making the switch before they fill up their shopping baskets, or perhaps pick out some good products to make into shopping lists for a blog for your followers. If you pick out products sold by local companies or other independents then you would also be doing the job of directing people to companies that need your custom too.
You might also want to reach out to large businesses in your area who have business accounts with Amazon. A business that is often ordering printer paper, ink cartridges and other stationery items will have the capacity to generate quite a lot of donation money for you which can provide a great boost for you. With it being at no extra cost to that business, they are also more likely to do it, so write a blog or a newsletter and remember, ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’!
As outlined in the above section, if you make the switch with the method described above, all subsequent visits you make will automatically reroute you to your smile.amazon.co.uk account. Amazon is also pretty good at prompting you to switch over whilst you are shopping too.
Whilst working with the team at Arts Derbyshire on setting up their Amazon Smile account, we also discovered a handy tool called Smilematic that makes it a little easier to shop knowing that you have made a donation via smile.amazon.co.uk.
Using Smilematic is easy. Simply download the free browser extension, which is compatible with most leading search engines, add it to your tool bar, click the icon and slide to activate before you make your purchase.
Once the extension is activated, your Amazon search will automatically open as smile.amazon.co.uk, saving you time and hassle at checkout to check you’ve made your donation.
Download the free browser extension here to give while you shop.
We hope you found this guide useful. We’ve also put together some other articles on digital fundraising for charities that you might want to read:
If you’d like help with digital marketing, ads management, SEO, copywriting, websites, branding or social media management… or anything else related to the internet and digital, then get in touch with us. We’re a friendly bunch.