FYI - The free resources I provide are made possible by the volunteer appreciation gifts that I design and sell through links on this site that add no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
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.
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
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:
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 AmazonSmile.com 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.