School Fundraising With the Amazon Associates Program

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.

AUGUST 2019 UPDATE - This article was previously titled Amazon Associates Program: The Best Easy School Fundraiser Since Box Tops when it was first published in August 2017.

Even though some school parent groups are still raising substantial amounts through the Amazon Associates Program, I am no longer strongly recommending that groups apply. Here’s why:

In recent months, I have been hearing from more PTO and PTA leaders that Amazon has been making it harder for school groups to get approved for the Amazon Associates Program and harder to stay in compliance with their terms of service once they are approved.

Some school parent groups are still raising hundreds to several thousands of dollars per year through Amazon Associates fundraisers. Here is a current example:

Fundraise with Amazon example from Mt. Washington Elementary PTA.

It might still be in your group’s interest to try an Amazon Associates school fundraiser, if you can spare about 2-5+ hours of time to carefully read the Amazon Associates Program terms of service, fill out the application, add information to your website, and start promoting the program. After your group referred at least three sales to Amazon from your website or social media accounts, your Associates Program application would be reviewed to determine if you will be accepted into the Program. But there is no guarantee that Amazon will approve your account.

I have heard from PTOs and PTAs who have had their accounts declined even though they set it up the same way as other groups who had their accounts approved. Some of these groups reapplied and were approved, but that takes time that you may not be able to spare, and there is still no guarantee that Amazon will approve your account.

If your group is a 501(c)(3), Amazon Smile is much easier to set up and the terms of service are much less restrictive for non-profits, but it also pays much less.

If you are still interested in finding out if school fundraising through Amazon Associates would work for your school group, check out the rest of the content below from my original article.

Please feel free to contact me with questions as well. You can email me using the envelope icon below or message me through my School Volunteers Share Facebook page.

Amazon Associates School Fundraising Results (as of June 2017)

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.

I contacted these groups to ask if they would share their fundraising results and many of them did, including some who listed results on their web sites. Others shared their results with me by email. Their fundraising results are summarized in this table.

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

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.

How School Parent Groups Fundraise with Amazon Associates - Illustrated

Infographic of how school groups use Amazon Associates for fundraising.

Amazon Associates School Fundraising Blueprint

The main goal for setting up your Amazon Associates fundraiser on your website is to max out earnings while following Amazon’s rules. This illustration shows how some PTOs and PTAs are setting up their Amazon Associates school fundraisers.

More About School Fundraising with Amazon Associates Program

Amazon Associates v. Amazon Smile Comparison Guide

Connecting Teacher Wish Lists with Your Amazon Associate Fundraising

Have questions? 

Feel free to email me using the envelope icon below or message me through my School Volunteers Share Facebook page.