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Amazon School Rewards was replaced by two online fundraising options for schools: Amazon Associates and AmazonSmile
I have noticed quite a bit of confusion about Amazon fundraising in Facebook groups and online forums for PTO / PTA leaders. This article aims to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about Amazon School Rewards, Amazon Associates Program, and Amazon Smile for schools.
Amazon School Rewards
In 2013, Amazon stopped offering Amazon School Rewards, a fundraiser for schools that was part of the larger Amazon Associates affiliate marketing program. However, as you can see from these school-related Help topics on the Amazon Associates website says, schools are welcome to participate directly in the Amazon Associates Program.
The Amazon Associates Program is open to businesses and non-profit organizations around the world. 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. Associates earn referral fees up to 10%, plus special fixed fees for various shopping events (e.g., Amazon Prime trial sign-ups).
Amazon School Rewards participants that continued as Associates earn money the same way that they did before the Rewards program closed in 2013. The Associate Program fee schedule has changed many times since and will continue to do so, but schools still get paid for referring traffic to Amazon.com and, since 2013, Smile.Amazon.com.
Amazon Associates Program just as profitable for schools as Amazon School Rewards
Amazon says that “thousands of schools and other organizations” participate in the Amazon Associates program. Many are raising hundreds to several thousands of dollars a year through Amazon Associates fundraising. (For a list of Amazon fundraising results, see the table in this previous article).
AmazonSmile launched the same year that Amazon School Rewards was closed
The same year that Amazon discontinued its Amazon School Rewards program (2013), it also launched AmazonSmile. AmazonSmile is a charitable program where the AmazonSmile Foundation donates .5% of qualifying purchases made through its Smile.Amazon.com website to charities designated by shoppers. It is only open to registered 501(c)(3)s in the United States. If your organization is an eligible charity, you can register for both programs and earn AmazonSmile donations as well as Amazon Associates referral fees.
Amazon Smile for schools confusion
I have heard from a number of PTO / PTA volunteers who are still with schools that previously participated in Amazon School Rewards. They said that when Amazon notified them about the School Rewards program closing, they were told about Amazon Smile, but did not receive much information about the Associates Program. So, they just switched to Amazon Smile, which pays much less than Amazon Associates. Others continued using their original Amazon School Rewards links and graphics and earning referral payments set by the Associates Program Fee Schedule.
More About School Fundraising with Amazon Associates Program
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