4 Strategies for Building Philanthropy into Your Business Model
by CJ Rosenbaum
The world of eCommerce can be competitive and is always fast-paced. Between finding a decent margin on items, complying with the Amazon.com, Inc ("Amazon") terms of service and handling customer comments and needs, it's hard to find the time to put some good out into the virtual shopping world.
There are opportunities, however, to foster goodwill - even when you're an Amazon seller. This may seem like an odd post coming from attorneys, but we work with many sellers and we're happy to report that many of them do one or more of the things below.
Sell Earth-Friendly Products
Many Amazon sellers are actively engaged in creating eco-friendly products. The fresh minds behind emerging products cherish our planet and want to make it a better place to live in. You have most likely seen it everywhere from your mom-and-pop shops to your department stores: cruelty-free, vegan designs, 100% recycled products and biodegradable products. Every single day creators are finding innovative ways to reduce waste and promote a healthy brand. You can bring those brands to your Amazon store, or create your own. Organic and eco-friendly brands sell really well on the Amazon marketplace, so investing in them is not only good for the Earth, it's good for your bottom line.
If you look at brands like TOMS or Warby Parker, you get an idea of what a buy-to-give model looks like. TOMS gives a pair of shoes to a person in need every time someone buys a pair. Warby Parker does the same thing, but with glasses. If you manufacture or sell a product that some people have difficulty obtaining, like shoes, glasses, books or other essentials, you could donate one of your items to a cause for every item purchased. This may be complicated in that you need to find out how to donate the items to people in need, so you might set up your own foundation so that you can stockpile the items and then get them where they need to go.
Make a Difference
You may also want to give back to your community. A lot of business owners do this, including eCommerce sellers. These people have a dream to change the world, and with their company, they are doing just that through the Amazon marketplace. If you are just starting your business, you may wish to first establish your brand, then incorporate your favorite charity into your earned profits. However, if you are already established, the Amazon platform offers an excellent way to raise funds for your favorite philanthropy. You can choose to donate the proceeds from a particular ASIN to charity, or you can donate a percentage of all of your sales to one.
Note that the Amazon product listings and condition notes are intended to provide a description to potential buyers. This is not the place to include information about philanthropic contributions, even if the proceeds from the item are being donated to a particular charity. The best way to help is to be the best seller you can be so you have the income to give to the charity of your choice.
Smiles All Around
The Amazon Smile program allows users to donate 0.5% of purchases to a selected charity. Charities can be registered to this program; however, they must be public charities located within the United States. Charity participants will also need to sign an Amazon Smile participation agreement. This way, when a customer decides to use the Amazon Smile program, if they select a charity, 0.5% of their purchase will be donated to that charity. Whether as a business or personal consumer, your purchases on Amazon can support a charity of your choice.
How Are You Giving Back?
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to be philanthropic as a seller on the Amazon marketplace. Charitable actions and donations are an important part of a business model, regardless of the industry. Even if you aren't able to implement one of the practices we've outlined above, you can still donate independently to a charity or volunteer at a church or organization near you. Aesop said it best, "no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."
Originally published on October 19, 2016, updated August 2, 2019
This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.