Fighting for scraps

As I write this on Cyber Monday, I’ve been reminded by two charities to set them up to receive .5% of my purchases on Amazon today. 

Tomorrow (today, as you read it) is Giving Tuesday and two different organizations are throwing elbows for 1/200th of the value of a straight up gift (and publicizing Amazon, who gets the other 199/200ths of the revenue).  Goodness help them if I were to take them up on their offer and substitute that for an actual gift. 

In case you are wondering for whom this is a better deal, there will not be a day on which Amazon will send out an email to its customers encouraging them to donate to you and take only half a percent of the donations for its trouble.

The thing Amazon has figured out is that they need only give away scraps to get a boost in sales.  A study of pay-what-you-want services found that people will pay more if part of the proceeds go to charity.  However, they won’t pay any more for the good if 1% goes to the charity or 99% goes to the charity—the only value is in some portion going to charity. 

That’s why Amazon can offer .5% and get marketing from nonprofits — there’s 1.5 million nonprofits and only one Amazon.  And since there’s no additional bump for additional funds, they don’t offer anything more than they must.

But that doesn’t mean we have to take it.

We don’t have to act as Amazon’s barely paid front man.  We don’t have to corporate relationships that add brand equity for them but not us.  We don’t have to send people to Facebook or Twitter to build our communities and monetize our supporters’ data.

When we engage in these types of deals we tell the world how to treat our organization.

Instead, we can build our brand muscle.  Building awareness, whether through DRTV, PSAs, earned media, or direct marketing, increases the amount that people are willing to give to our organizations.

But more than that: as we have brand power of our own, we can better set the terms of a deal from a position of strength.  As we talk about in our So you think you want to do DRTV? white paper, one organization was able to move its minimum requirement for partnerships from $100,000 to $1 million because they were more of a household name.

So when you are asked why you aren’t sending out an Amazon Smile email these holidays, tell them it’s because it’s respect yourself and your donors too much — you take an active role in active income.

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