How to raise money on Black Friday

Philip Manzano • Nov 23, 2018

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. It is a day when retail stores have major sales on their merchandise, as a perfect way to open up the holiday season. It’s one of the biggest shopping days of the year. And it sounds great — but it often turns into chaos:

And while this is not always the case — we see this scene play out over and over again.

As a nonprofit, I would look at this and think to myself, “how can we convert those shoppers into donors?”

Well, if you are based in the States, there is one way you can do exactly that — and it’s completely free. It’s called the AmazonSmile program. We know that you’re focused on #GivingTuesday right now, but this is a channel that could potentially mean a lot for your organization, so it’s worth a look.

Raising money through AmazonSmile

What is the AmazonSmile program?

The AmazonSmile Program is owned and operated by Amazon (yes, the online giant). With more and more people deciding to avoid hectic retail environments like the one above — online shopping has boomed. And Black Friday sales have found their way online, helping you save time and money all at once. 

Amazon Smile enables consumers to shop on Amazon as they normally would and have a portion of their purchase get donated directly to a charity they care about. 0.5% of every eligible AmazonSmile purchase goes towards a charity, and it doesn’t cost the consumer or the charity anything extra to do it! And this is available all year round — not just big holidays.

And although it may seem like a small amount at first, having the option available also opens up a whole new strategy for fundraising and marketing. You can tap into consumer shopping habits and align yourself with the most common products to increase donations, for example.

How does AmazonSmile work?

If consumers are aware of the AmazonSmile program, they can choose to have 0.5% of their purchase go towards a charity of their choice. And it really is just a matter of getting people to know more about it. Here’s why AmazonSmile is attractive to people:

  • Nothing is added on top of the purchase price. The operating costs of AmazonSmile are covered by Amazon.
  • The selection is the same — you still have access to tens of thousands of products that will be eligible for the AmazonSmile program.
  • You remove a barrier to giving. Individuals want to give to charities and support causes close to their hearts.

Your role as an organization that is part of the program is to tell your network about the opportunity here — especially around events like Black Friday or Cyber Monday. These are days when people will be shopping anyway — why not have them support your organization at the same time?

How do you sign up for AmazonSmile?

It’s a pretty straightforward process to get your organization signed up for AmazonSmile. First, visit AmazonSmile Org Central. Here you will be met with a “Register Now” link.

  1. Find your charitable organization by searching for it by name or EIN number. Just be sure to double-check that you are registering the correct organization — a lot of organizations have similar names
  2. Create an account for your organization’s administrator. This individual should be someone who works for your organization and has the authority and autonomy to go into the account to make changes.
  3. You will receive a confirmation email after you set up your account. Verify your account by following the instructions in that email. It’s best to use the email address associated with the organization you are representing.
  4. As part of the setup, you will be prompted to submit your organization’s bank information. This will make it easy for AmazonSmile to transfer donations directly to your organization.
  5. Finally, you will be asked to upload a void check or bank statement to verify the organization’s bank information that was submitted earlier.

That’s it.

Once you have completed all of these steps you will have everything you need in order to start receiving donations from other people’s shopping.

What are the next steps?

Once you have the AmazonSmile Program set up, you can focus on spreading the word about how people can feel good about shopping because they can support you at the same time.

During Black Friday or Cyber Monday, you are typically looking at an audience obsessed with looking for shopping deals. One of your goals should be to align your organization with this wave of momentum.

A mistake some organizations make during this time is talking about how people are being selfish and should instead focus on philanthropy. This doesn’t typically work — for a couple of reasons:

  1. Organizations may be chastising individuals who have good intentions. They may be shopping for gifts or trying to help others, or buying things that they genuinely need – it doesn’t have to be a selfish act.
  2. Your efforts are muted because you are going against the momentum. Every bit of marketing is telling individuals to buy. It would be more effective to lean into this strategy than to tell consumers to think differently.

How can my organization raise money during Black Friday?

Here are a few ideas to help you spread the word about your organization’s presence on AmazonSmile for Black Friday.

1. Send an email

One of the best ways to get in front of your donor base is by emailing them. Send an email about Black Friday – and how your team is excited about it. Let them know that you share in their excitement and that you’re encouraging them to shop for deals online.

This is the perfect opportunity to let them know that your organization is part of the AmazonSmile program.

Explain what the program is, and how easy it is to support your organization with their regular shopping. End the message with a few simple calls to action like a link to the AmazonSmile Program, or simple instructions on how they can select to support your organization.

2. Talk about it on social media

Everyone is excited about Black Friday — and your organization should be excited too. Use social media to generate excitement about your participation in the AmazonSmile Program. Share some tidbits of information about the program. Talk about the items that would be eligible purchases. Share some of the helpful links for people to learn more about how they can contribute to you.

3. Buy some AmazonSmile-eligible products yourself

Lead by example and purchase some items that would be eligible for the program. You can showcase how simple it is to support your organization with a Black Friday purchase. Alternatively, you could also use these items as gifts for people within the organization and then share some information about why you are doing it.

In Conclusion

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are huge days for spending — but they can be huge days for your organization as well. Who says you have to wait for Giving Tuesday?

Using the AmazonSmile Program, your nonprofit organization can take raise money on Amazon purchases that people would be making anyway. It’s a simple program to take advantage of.

But you have to share this information with your network to get the most out of the program, so keep chatting about it, and create campaigns that truly involve the program.