Amazon Associates is one of the first online affiliate marketing programs and was launched in 1996.
Like all affiliate programs, Amazon Associates is, at its core, a referral program that pays out a commission. So, by sending customers to Amazon.com, the Society gets a commission for everything you buy.
Here's how it works in a nutshell:
When you go to Amazon by clicking on the Amazon graphic on our home page (or any other link to Amazon on our website), the Society will receive a percentage of any purchases you make at Amazon.com for the next 24 hours.
The percentage varies depending on the product or service you purchase — but, generally, is in the range of 4-6%.
Of course, this is the quick and dirty version. The important thing to remember is to always go to Amazon from our website! That's all - you don't have to do anything else to designate your donations go to TCGHS.
Is Amazon Associates the same as AmazonSmile? And, should I use that program instead?
The short answer to both questions is No. Please use Amazon Associates instead.
If you are really interested, here’s why (at the risk of boring you):
TCGHS had been an Amazon Associate since the late 1990’s. And, we received several hundred dollars of support from Amazon. The payments we received were technically considered referral fees rather than true “donations”.
At the time, Amazon, like many other online companies, was not required to collect Illinois sales tax because they did have a physical presence in Illinois.
Amazon dropped Illinoisans from the program in April 2011 after Governor Pat Quinn signed the Main Street Fairness Act – better known as the “Amazon tax” – which required online retailers with affiliates with a physical presence in Illinois (like TCGHS) to collect a “use tax” for all sales to Illinois customers. Amazon promptly discontinued their program for Illinois associates rather than collect sales tax.
Other ecommerce sites dropped Illinois affiliates as well, which meant that people, charities, and businesses that totally relied on affiliate marketing programs had to either shut down or leave Illinois. Some businesses did actually leave Illinois for Wisconsin & Indiana – so, whether, the state benefited from the law is still somewhat debatable.
To support charities, Amazon instead implemented the AmazonSmile program. AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as Amazon.com. The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation would donate ½ of 1% (0.5%) of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice.
You had to go through a sign-up procedure to designate TCGHS as the charity to receive your donations. And, the sad fact was the income received was very small (you’d have to spend $5000 on AmazonSmile for the Society to get a $25 donation). But, being better than nothing, the Society promoted the use of AmazonSmile.
Then, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the “Amazon tax” in October 2013 because it conflicted with a federal law, the Internet Tax Freedom Act, that prohibits state governments from imposing discriminating taxes against online commerce.
It took Amazon a few years to get the Associates program back for Illinois affiliates. We promptly rejoined the program at the beginning of 2016. The AmazonSmile program also continues to work.
So, bottom line, using Amazon Associates by clicking on the Amazon graphic on our home pages gives the Society 4-6% of your purchases while AmazonSmile only yields ½ of 1%.
So, it’s a no-brainer, use Amazon Associates!!
Note: All of the above has since become a moot point since Amazon now does have a physical presence in Illinois (a distribution center) and, therefore, does collect Illinois Sales Tax.