Blogger Advocacy and Legislation Committee

AmazonSmile as Easy Fundraising Opportunity

Like it or not, everyone is shopping at Amazon these days.

Okay, not everyone. But you get the point. We might as well get used to it. Not only that, we might as well take advantage of it. At least, we might as well know our options.

Libraries operate on increasingly tight budgets. And we advocate on a regular basis for greater funding. Sometimes, we get it. And even when we don’t, we’re increasingly clever with how we spend what we have to effectively reach all of our patrons.

We’re good at what we do. Still, a few extra bucks never hurts.

Enter AmazonSmile. An easy way to earn a few cents on eligible purchases which, depending on supporter’s purchasing habits, may add up to substantial donations. After all, as of October 2018, according to their site, AmazonSmile’s charities have earned more than $105 billion.

Here’s how to sign up, according to blog.aboutamazon.com. Head to org.amazon.com and click the yellow “register now” button. Search for your organization and click register to follow the steps.

How simple is that?!

The Catch

There’s one major catch. The organization appears to have to be a 501(c)3. Many libraries are not, and it can be expensive to become one. That said, if you have a Friends of the Library group or a related organization that is a 501c3, why not sign up today?

Like everything else, AmazonSmile has its fair share of detractors. This article, https://nonprofitchronicles.com/2017/03/28/why-amazon-smile-doesnt-make-me-smile/, provides interesting perspective.

Amy Gee, director of the Carthage (IL) Public Library District, suggests that all patrons shop local in her community. Even so, knowing that not only patrons, but her library uses Amazon for certain purchases, she says it was easy enough to implement. Adding to that, Gee says, “for program activity from Oct, 1, 2017 – Sept. 30, 2018 we received $201.89 with minimal to no effort on our part.”

But Wait…

Megan Grove from the Talcott Free Library describes another way to register for AmazonSmile. Grove explains, “I had to create an account on GuideStar for the library in order to be added. You can get a letter from the IRS that basically states that even though you are not a 501(c)3 you can be treated as such. It’s called Letter 4076C and you can request it from the IRS. According to 170(c)(1) charitable contributions to governmental units are tax deductible if made for public purpose.”

Nothing is perfect. Still, for the right organization, maybe AmazonSmile can raise a few extra bucks. It may be worth the effort.

Joel Shoemaker is a member of the ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee. He currently resides in Metamora, IL and is the Library Director for the Illinois Prairie District Public Library. 

This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: V. Outreach and Advocacy.

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