Amazon Associates Program: The Best Easy School Fundraiser Since Box Tops

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Did you know that PTOs, PTAs and other school groups across the country are using the Amazon Associates Program to raise hundreds to several thousands of dollars a year?

I didn’t! Like many volunteers, I knew about a different program called AmazonSmile. AmazonSmile is a charitable program where Amazon donates $5 out of every $1,000 in qualifying purchases, and it takes a long time to add up.

Our PTO was raising about $130 per year through AmazonSmile. Not a lot, but it’s free money, right? I just wanted to know how we could get a lot more of it!

So, I started researching what other school groups are doing. As you would expect, AmazonSmile came up a lot. More surprising, were the schools participating in a program I had never heard of before called the Amazon Associates Program. Amazon Associates pays a much higher percentage of sales referrals, plus special fixed fees, to participants, including PTOs and PTAs. Some of these Associate school groups share results on their websites that are really impressive.

The results I found were so good, especially compared to AmazonSmile, that they were almost too hard for me to believe. So I started emailing other PTOs and PTAs, just volunteer to volunteer, asking if they would be willing to share:

  • How much they are raising for their school through Amazon Associates

  • Whether they would recommend it to other school groups

  • Whether they had any tips for success that they would care to share

School volunteers are super sharers. (One of the many reasons I’m such a fan of caring, hardworking volunteers, like you!) Still, I was excited that so many of them took the time out of their crazy schedules to respond. Here are the results I’ve compiled so far. The groups that are shaded share results on their websites.

Amazon Associates online school fundraiser results  Del Mar Schools Education Foundation  Weston Public Schools  Covington Elementary School PTA  McDonald International School PTA  Belmont-Redwood Shores Public School Foundation  PS 32 Samuels Mills Sproles School PTA  Mason-Rice Elementary PTO  Edison Elementary PTA  Red Hill Elementary School PTA  Melrose Avenue Elementary PTO  Mount Washington Elementary PTA  Dianne Feinstein Elementary School PTA  William F. Stanley Elementary PTO  De Toledo High School  Lafayette PTA  Torrey Pines Elementary School Foundation  Proctor Terrace Elementary School PTA  Arroya Vista Elementary PTA  Ashland PTO  Louise Archer Elementary PTA  New Boston Central School PTA  Ocean Knoll Elementary School PTA  Donald Lum Elementary PTA  Pathfinder K-8 PTSA  General John Nixon Elementary PTO  North Shoreview Montessori PTA  Benjamin Bubb Elementary School PTA  Friends of Short Avenue Elementary  Founders Classical Academy PTO Lewisville  Brown Middle School PTO  Strandwood Elementary PTA  Freedom Hill Elementary PTA  Hillsdale Elementary PTO  Wheatland Elementary School PTO  Hampton Park Christian School  Horace Mann Elementary  Thompson PTO  Williams Elementary School PTO  Mt. Erie Elementary PTA  Lamar High School  South County Middle School PTSO  Bard High School Early College PTA  Muraco Elementary School Parents Association  Garden Street Academy  Canterbury Woods PTA  Westbrook / Glengrove PTA  Parker Middle School PTO  Somerset PTA  Saint Louis de Montfort PTO  Louisa Boren STEM K-8  Northside Elementary PTA  Jan Schiff Elementary PTO  L'Etoile du Nord French Immersion PTO  Vineyard Elementary Ranch PTA  Brookline Early Education Program PTO

Want this table as a PDF file with clickable links to these school websites? Click on the button below.

Amazon fundraising in a “nutshell”

Amazon Associates Program

Amazon School fundraising: AmazonSmile versus Amazon Associates

How much it pays: Associates earn referral fees up to 10% + special fixed fees

Who can participate: Businesses, individuals, non-profits.

Started in 1996, the Amazon Associates Program is Amazon’s affiliate marketing program comprising millions of advertising partners worldwide. If your school group joins the Amazon Associates Program, you will become an “Associate,” which is also known as an “affiliate,” and your group will earn fees for sales that result from web traffic you refer to Amazon through special links on your website and social media.

Until 2013, Amazon offered a related affiliate marketing program aimed at schools called Amazon School Rewards. At that time, Amazon stopped accepting new participants into the School Rewards program. However, as you can see from this information on the Amazon Associates Central website, schools and other non-profit groups are welcome to participate in the broader Amazon Associates Program:

Non-profits, like schools and PTO / PTA groups, are eligible to participate in the Amazon Associates Program.



How much it pays: .5% of sales donated

Who can participate: U.S. charitable organizations qualified under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Introduced in 2013, AmazonSmile is a charitable program where the AmazonSmile Foundation donates a percentage of qualifying purchases made through its website to charities designated by shoppers.

If your group is a registered 501(c)(3), you can participate in the Associates Program and AmazonSmile at the same time.

Amazon says that “thousands of schools and other organizations” participate in the Amazon Associates Program. I served as a PTO leader for seven years before I stumbled across Amazon Associates fundraising in 2017. Once I knew what to look for, I was able to find over 350 PTOs, PTAs, and other school groups fundraising with Amazon Associates.

Ready to start your own Amazon Associates school fundraiser?

Be sure to check out these resources: 

Amazon Fundraising Challenge – Free email course steps you through the process of starting your own profitable Amazon Associates fundraiser. Course delivered in 6 emails.

Infographic – Amazon Associates v. Amazon Smile Comparison Guide – How they work, how much they pay, and how to get started.

Care to share your thoughts? Have questions? Comment below or send me a note by clicking the email icon below. I would love to hear from you.

Amazon Associates Program: Best easy school fundraiser since Box Tops for Education