How Amazon Associates and Amazon Smile Help Nonprofits and Small Business

Danbo (Japanese for “cardboard” is a fictional manga character from from Kiyohiko Azuma's manga series Yotsuba&!. The source image is by William Warby, 11/2013 via flickr.

Danbo (Japanese for “cardboard” is a fictional manga character from from Kiyohiko Azuma’s manga series Yotsuba&!. The source image is by William Warby, 11/2013 via flickr.

You Do Not Lose Your Smile Donation When You Click on an Associate Link

Note: All links to Amazon on this post and on The Lois Level are associate links that pay us a small commission no matter what you buy on that trip to amazon.com

Amazon Smile: Charitable Donations

Are you a member of Amazon Smile?  That is a program that donates .5% of every purchase you make at amazon.com to the charity of your choice.  If you are unfamiliar with this program, you might be surprised at how many charities participate, including local ones.  I have mine set to benefit the library that I also volunteer at, but you might be able to find your church or your other favorite organization.

You may also donate goods directly to organizations that participate in AmazonSmile Charity Lists. Amazon will ship the items to the organization for you, and yes, .5% of your purchases will still go in cash to your designated organization, and you click through any associate link on a website, they will get a commission too.

Amazon Smile is the philanthropic arm of Amazon.com, which pays for the administrative costs of running Amazon Smile so that 100% of the funds allocated by consumers go directly to the participating organizations.

 Amazon Associates: Supporting Local Businesses

Amazon Associates is a program that allows anyone with a website to earn a commission.  You do not need to purchase the actual item on the website with the affiliate link; you only need to use the link to get to your own Amazon account and begin your shopping trip from there.   

A lot of us “love to hate” Amazon, but the fact is, we almost all shop there for SOMETHING.  And to be honest, they do make it easy for a lot of us to operate very small businesses, which is what a website is, by providing information or just selling products outright. 

Websites Can Be Small, Owner Operated Businesses

You may not think of your favorite websites, Instagram feeds, or Youtube channels as small businesses, but that’s what many of us are. Some people develop some kind of Internet presence as a side gig, some do it for a hobby, some do it full time, or there may be a combination of or “aspirational” presences (starting with a hobby that you hope to grow).

Sure, making money is a part of why we do this…we all need to do that somehow in order to live…but many people also want to make a lifestyle choice or have a positive impact on the world, and that’s a big part of why we do this.

The Lois Level, for example, came from my love of reading and interest in helping others love books and reading too, and is a natural outgrowth of my vocation as a literacy educator. I know about books and how to help people get the most out of them because I’m a teacher. Over the years, I became more and more convinced that while schools are really great at teaching kids HOW to read, kids are most likely to follow their parents and other adults in their lives into becoming lifelong readers who value reading, so I decided to dedicate myself to engaging adults in reading, with the full knowledge that the kids are watching them.

We may not be local in the traditional sense of the “mom and pop” store on the corner, but supporting our businesses means that we are using money to put food on the table and raise families, just like everyone else…while trying to use our skills and talents to leave the world a better place than we found it.

We all love to support our local companies as much as possible because we know in return they provide people we know with jobs and are as invested in the community as we are. Our local businesses also help us keep our local communities feel different and special. As they say, “variety is the spice of life”.

Website owner/operators are similarly invested in their communities…it’s just that our communities are much larger! When I write about free, quality reading material, I know I am addressing people all over the world who crave the opportunity to improve their opportunities and grow by improving their English literacy…whether you are sitting in an American suburb or an Internet café in the third world.

Independent websites are about putting a lot of different voices and ideas out there, and no matter what you think about Amazon as corporation, they do help Internet Entrepreneurs do that.

Why Small Websites Use Amazon Affiliates

The Amazon Affiliates program is one of the easiest for small website owner/operators to join for a variety of reasons, and Amazon has a “minimum payout threshold” of only $10 a month, which means that the website only has to earn $10 every thirty days to get paid. In contrast, Google Ads won’t pay out until the website has earned $100 in a month, so if, for example, the website has earned $99, the owner has to wait another month to get paid. It may sound like nothing, but when you are getting started, every little bit helps.

Many ad companies and affiliate programs won’t let you in until you have a certain amount of traffic, and others are time consuming and complicated to join.

Combining Amazon Affiliates and Amazon Smile

A lot of people get annoyed by the Amazon Affiliates program because they think that going through an Affiliates link will not send their money to their designated Smile charity, but that is not true.   

You can do both.  All you need to do after clicking through the link on the website you wish to support (such as The Lois Level), then insert “smile.” before the word “amazon” in your browser.  That will activate your own designated charity to receive its donation and also allow the designated commission for Amazon Affiliates to be generated to the originating website (theloislevel.com).  This article from “Doctor of Credit” does a great job explaining the specifics.

If you don’t activate those features, the money stays with Amazon as profit.  Their prices, and the fees they charge to their marketplace vendors have those commissions built in, so if you don’t designate them, Amazon keeps them. 

As consumers, there are reasons most of us frequent a mix of big and small companies for our everyday goods and services, usually because we are seeking a combination of good service and a good price.  Amazon is one of the biggest operations out there, but they do provide income streams that make tiny (micro) companies possible.

You can benefit from the convenience of shopping at Amazon and help support your favorite websites (or other small businesses) AND your favorite charities, all at the same time. 

And that’s pretty awesome! 

If you choose to support The Lois Level with your Amazon purchases, thank you thank you thank you.  We love doing this, and we hope you love reading our posts! Thank you for helping us help everyone read well!