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Use Amazon to make a holiday gift guide for your supporters (and get money from Amazon Smile)

Amazon has a new feature that can help your small nonprofit raise more money from Amazon Smile this holiday season.

Amazon's new Idea List feature allows your small nonprofit to create its own holiday gift-buying guide and share it with your supporters. For example, I set up an eco-friendly and Fair Trade gifts guide for my nonprofit, Voices for Earth Justice. As of now, it has about 70 items on it.

I like the idea of making my own gift-buying guide for three reasons:

  1. I'm helping my supporters. Most of them are looking for gift ideas for the people in their lives. This is a busy time of year. Making a gift-buying guide makes holiday shopping easier, faster, and more pleasurable (because they're buying gifts that support the environment and people all along the supply chain).

  2. I'm accomplishing my mission. Voices for Earth Justice stands for environmental and human stewardship and responsibility. People are going to shop during the holidays. I'm helping them do it in a way that is a little better for the environment and the people who make the products they buy and give.

  3. I'm raising money. By encouraging my supporters to check out our gift-buying guide at, a percent of every purchase they make goes to Voices for Earth Justice. That's not just items from our gift-buying guide--that's all items they buy as long as they're on The gift ideas on our list are ideas only; they may inspire other purchases and those purchases support Voices for Earth Justice as well. What's more, is supporters get in the habit of using to shop on Amazon. As long as Voices for Earth Justice is their default setting for Amazon Smile, we will continue to enjoy the financial benefits.

  4. Here's a bonus reason: I want my supporters to feel like I'm giving them a lot more than they're giving me. Using Amazon Idea Lists and Amazon Smile is a real gift to supporters that makes it easier for them to do what they need and want to do in their everyday lives. I believe supporters will be more loyal to Voices for Earth Justice over time as they see the value we give them.

So, how do you set up your own gift-buying guide on Amazon?

Follow these steps:

Step One: Make sure your small nonprofit is set up to receive donations from Amazon Smile. Go to and follow the instructions.

Step Two: Use your small nonprofit's Amazon account (set one up if you don't have one) to create your gift-buying guide. After you log into your Amazon account...

...go to the dropdown menu under "Accounts & Lists" and select "Your Lists" on "Your Idea Lists" on "Create a new idea list"

...give your idea list a name and a description that connects it to your small nonprofit

...then start populating your list.

You populate your idea list the same way you add items to your personal wish lists. Simply search for products that you think make sense for your small nonprofit to recommend, click on the "Add to List" dropdown.

Find your idea list in the dropdown...

Click on the idea list you want and your item will be added to it.

Once you have as many items as you'd like to have in your gift-buying guide, push the "Publish now" button.

Once your list is live, Amazon gives you a link to share with your supporters.

Use your email marketing tool and social media to let your supporters know about your gift-buying guide.

IMPORTANT: Make sure your supporters know they need to go to and choose your small nonprofit in order for you to receive a percent of their purchases from Amazon. Shopping at is no different from shopping at

For supporters who are going to to do their shopping, they will see a screen like this:

Make sure you tell your supporters to search for your small nonprofit by EIN or name in order to set you up as the recipient of proceeds from their shopping.

Now that your small nonprofit's Amazon Smile account and gift-buying guide are set up, be sure to remind your supporters to use them this holiday season. You might even ask your supporter to suggest gifts to add to your gift-buying guide. This increases the goodwill and interaction you have with your community of support.

I think one of the most important and overlooked factors in raising support for our small nonprofits is how easy and fun we make it for people to give. I look for things people are going to do anyway and try to figure out how to insert my small nonprofit into those habits. Holiday shopping is a perfect example. Using Amazon Smile and the new Amazon Idea List tool, your small nonprofit can do your supporters a big favor this holiday season, which they will gladly return to you in the form of financial support.

Please give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Onward and upward!

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