Alternatives to AmazonSmile: FAQ + 6 Top Replacement Options

Alternatives to AmazonSmile: FAQ + 6 Top Replacement Options

Sustainable revenue sources are essential to a successful nonprofit fundraising strategy. Beginning in 2013, more than a million organizations participated in the AmazonSmile program to generate ongoing funding between their larger giving campaigns and events. But in January 2023, Amazon announced that it was discontinuing the Smile program just one month later, which left nonprofit participants uncertain about the future of their year-round fundraising efforts.

Fortunately, AmazonSmile wasn’t the only ongoing revenue stream nonprofits could implement. In this guide, you’ll learn all you need to know about choosing the best alternative to AmazonSmile for your organization. Here is what we’ll cover:

  • What was AmazonSmile?
  • Why was AmazonSmile discontinued?
  • Best Alternatives to AmazonSmile

Before we dive into our alternative fundraising recommendations, let’s begin with some background information on the AmazonSmile program and its untimely end.

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What Was AmazonSmile?

AmazonSmile was a program that Amazon launched in 2013 as one of its business philanthropy initiatives. It allowed shoppers to contribute to their favorite charitable causes simply by making everyday online purchases on Amazon at no additional cost to them or the organization they chose to support.

For nonprofits, AmazonSmile provided an easy, year-round method of bringing in unrestricted funding to supplement any area of their budget, particularly overhead expenses.

Of course, the program had some inherent disadvantages, such as its low commission rates—just 0.5% of each supporter’s purchase went back to the nonprofit. Shoppers could also only contribute through purchases made on, and nonprofits couldn’t view any participation data, making it impossible to thank supporters individually. However, AmazonSmile’s convenience as an ongoing, passive fundraiser made it a popular supplement to the annual fundraising efforts of organizations of all shapes and sizes.

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Why Was AmazonSmile Discontinued?

According to an official press release, Amazon discontinued the Smile program because the company felt like its philanthropic impact was spread too thin. Instead, the business planned to focus on other, more targeted charitable initiatives, such as aiding in disaster relief and building affordable housing.

However, what Amazon didn’t take into account was the significant impact the announcement would have on individual nonprofits. Small organizations, in particular, relied heavily on the Smile program’s funding to conduct their day-to-day operations, and the program’s discontinuation meant a key revenue source was no longer available to them.

The announcement also came in January, when most nonprofits had already finalized their operating budgets for the 2023 fiscal year. Combined with the quick turnaround, this timing made figuring out an alternative to a funding source they had relied on for up to a decade even more challenging.

A timeline of the beginning and end of the AmazonSmile program.

Best Alternatives to AmazonSmile

For many organizations, AmazonSmile’s discontinuation left them with a fundraising deficit that they quickly had to fill. If your nonprofit was among these organizations, you might have tried several alternative fundraising ideas—many of which still have various advantages if you’re looking for an additional revenue stream for the coming year.

Let’s look at six top alternatives that share AmazonSmile’s benefits of convenience and cost effectiveness while driving even more revenue and supporter engagement for your organization. Several of these ideas also have the benefit of earning funds for your nonprofit year-round, boosting financial sustainability.

AmazonSmile wasn’t the only program of its kind out there. The best, most sustainable alternative to AmazonSmile is to partner with a different online shopping fundraiser platform, like ShopRaise.

ShopRaise allows supporters to contribute to their favorite nonprofits by making everyday purchases. Rather than being owned by and limited to a single online retailer like AmazonSmile was, ShopRaise operates within a wide network of e-commerce businesses to provide even more opportunities to shop for a good cause.

ShopRaise offers two options for your organization to fundraise through supporters’ purchases: the online shopping fundraiser and the gift card store. Let’s dive into both aspects of the platform in more detail before discussing its specific benefits as an AmazonSmile alternative.

Online Shopping Fundraiser

Similarly to AmazonSmile, ShopRaise’s online shopping fundraiser contributes a percentage of supporters’ sales totals at participating retailers directly to their cause of choice. Your nonprofit can get started with this part of the platform by:

This flowchart shows three steps organizations can follow to start using ShopRaise as an AmazonSmile alternative, which are discussed below.
  1. Signing up for ShopRaise. The ShopRaise team will walk you through a simple onboarding process, answer any questions you may have, and handle all negotiations with retailers for you.
  2. Spreading the word. Since ShopRaise functions differently from AmazonSmile, you’ll need to provide instructions to help supporters start shopping for your cause and regularly remind them to use the app as they shop online. ShopRaise also helps with this step by creating a branded landing page, flyers, email templates, and other marketing materials for your nonprofit.
  3. Tracking results. You’ll be able to view real-time data on your fundraiser through the ShopRaise platform, allowing you to thank your top supporters individually and hone your marketing strategy. To protect shoppers’ privacy, you’ll just see their names and fundraising totals—only the supporter will know exactly what items they purchased.

On the supporter side, all they have to do is download ShopRaise’s free app or browser extension and use these tools when shopping online. They’ll pay the same prices and have access to the same discounts they normally would. They’re also able to view their fundraising totals in the app, so they can see how their contributions add up over time to make a difference for your nonprofit!

Gift Card Store

When your organization signs up for ShopRaise’s online shopping fundraiser, you automatically gain access to the Gift Card Store as well! Here, supporters can choose from more than 200 different gift cards, and a portion of their purchase will again go back to your nonprofit.

All of ShopRaise’s fundraising gift cards are digital, so they’re delivered directly to supporters’ inboxes within minutes of purchase. Once a shopper receives their digital gift card, they can do one of three things with it:

  1. Forward the email to a friend or family member to give them the card as a gift.
  2. Use the gift card for their own in-person or online purchases so they can give back while they shop or eat out.
  3. Pay for the items they buy through ShopRaise’s online shopping fundraiser with the gift card, thereby contributing even more to your organization!

While gift card sales make a great holiday fundraiser, they can provide revenue for your nonprofit year-round just like the online shopping fundraiser. For instance, supporters may purchase them as birthday gifts or for their own purchases, which can happen at any time.

Benefits of ShopRaise as an Alternative to AmazonSmile

Although having participated in AmazonSmile makes ShopRaise an easy switch for your nonprofit and its supporters, ShopRaise offers several advantages that AmazonSmile didn’t provide, including:

  • Higher commissions. AmazonSmile only gave 0.5% of supporters’ purchase totals back to their chosen nonprofit. Meanwhile, ShopRaise’s online shopping fundraiser commission rates range from 3% to 10% depending on the retailer, and the average contribution from a Gift Card Store purchase is 5.5%.
  • Marketing support. Although communication is essential to a successful online shopping fundraiser, AmazonSmile didn’t create custom branded marketing materials for each participating nonprofit, which ShopRaise will do for your organization at no cost.
  • Data reporting. A common pain point for organizations participating in AmazonSmile was the inability to view data on their fundraising performance. By contrast, ShopRaise offers easy-to-use data reporting tools for both nonprofits and supporters.
  • Increased versatility. Supporters can contribute through a wider range of purchases through ShopRaise since the platform isn’t restricted to a single retailer. Plus, the Gift Card Store allows supporters to contribute to your cause while shopping in stores or eating at their favorite restaurants, while AmazonSmile was limited to online purchases.

Additionally, AmazonSmile only allowed nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and schools to participate. ShopRaise also provides fundraising solutions for sports teams and clubs—we want to help you earn revenue for your cause no matter what type of organization you represent!

A graphical list of five types of organizations that can fundraise through the best AmazonSmile alternative, ShopRaise.

Other Top AmazonSmile Alternatives

Besides online shopping and gift card fundraising through ShopRaise, there are a few other revenue generation ideas your nonprofit could consider as AmazonSmile alternatives, such as:

A pro and con chart of six fundraising ideas used as alternatives to AmazonSmile, which are discussed below.
  • Virtual events. Events like galas, auctions, and 5K races often have a high ROI and can easily become annual fundraisers for your organization. Plus, your upfront costs will be lower for a virtual event than an in-person event since you don’t need to secure a venue or other tangible supplies. However, these events still require a lot of planning and don’t share the advantage AmazonSmile had of providing steady, ongoing revenue.
  • In-kind donation drives. If your organization needs physical items on a recurring basis to further its mission, soliciting them directly from your supporters allows you to secure them more efficiently. For example, an animal shelter might ask for contributions of pet food, treats, and cat litter each month. The main difficulty with in-kind donations is that you’ll likely receive some items you can’t use (like opened or expired goods), which will go to waste.
  • Matching gifts. Adding a matching gift tool to your online donation form can help you maximize the donations your supporters are already contributing year-round, as well as strengthening relationships with local businesses. This idea’s biggest challenge is that many donors aren’t aware that their employers might match their gifts, so you’ll need to invest time and resources into marketing the opportunity.
  • Fundraising eCards. eCards are a creative way to spread the word about your mission, and in exchange for a supporter’s donation, they get the opportunity to send a digital greeting card to a friend or family member. However, since supporters will likely only send these cards when there is an appropriate occasion, this revenue stream isn’t quite as continuous as AmazonSmile was.
  • Branded merchandise sales. Many fundraising organizations open online stores to sell t-shirts, hats, beverage containers, magnets, and other gifts that feature their logo. When supporters purchase these items, in addition to donating to your mission, they’ll spread the word about your organization every time they use your products. The main drawback here is that these items often aren’t on supporters’ regular shopping lists, so they have to go a bit out of their way to contribute.

As you can see, each alternative fundraising idea has its pros and cons. Weigh these various factors as you decide which options are best for your nonprofit.

Wrapping Up: Additional Resources on AmazonSmile Alternatives

Although AmazonSmile’s untimely discontinuation in early 2023 impacted many nonprofits, all hope was—and is—not lost! There are plenty of alternative fundraising methods your organization can try to establish new revenue streams and engage your supporters. If you want a solution that works similarly to AmazonSmile but eliminates several of that program’s key pain points, look no further than ShopRaise!

For more information on alternatives to AmazonSmile, check out these resources:

Explore a top alternative to AmazonSmile: ShopRaise. Learn how to earn more for free. Request a demo.
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