The good news is - there is more than one way to donate to AAVSO via Amazon.com. The bad news is – it is not as straightforward or easy as it could be.
The links from our website that connect users to our Amazon Associates Program direct you to an Amazon home page via the URL: http://www.amazon.com/?tag=aavso-20.
When you land there, 5% of your total purchase price on all eligible items (those shipped from Amazon.com, not a third party) is donated directly to the AAVSO, at no additional cost to you. Once we hit a certain level, the percentage donated goes up to 6%. Simply put, for every $100.00 you spend on Amazon.com purchases, the AAVSO receives at least $5.00.
This is a great program, it has been in place for years, and it has netted the AAVSO thousands of dollars in cash and goods. The one drawback of this program is the fact that you have to enter Amazon.com through the AAVSO-Amazon Associates portal for your purchase to be counted towards an AAVSO donation.
It is easy to forget to start at the AAVSO website to access this program. One simple solution is to create a bookmark in your browser. Mine is in a folder called “Online Shopping”. I still forget to begin my online shopping there some times, but I’m better at remembering now that I don’t have to specifically click on a link on the AAVSO website.
Now there is AmazonSmile. This is a newer service that works in a similar way to our associates program, however this application requires you to register and select the charitable organization of your choice to donate a percentage of your purchase price. You go to http://smile.amazon.com/ to register and choose AAVSO as the organization of your choice.
The common misconception about this program is that once registered you will always be automatically directed to AmazonSmile whenever accessing Amazon.com from your computer or mobile devise. This is not true. You still have to make the conscious decision to use the AmazonSmile app.
You can download a button for your Firefox or Chrome browser, but be sure it is the yellow/gold button for AmazonSmile, not the dark grey button for the Amazon 1Button App, referred to in the email you receive upon registering.
The AmazonSmile bar at the top of the page in Chrome looks like this.
You can also download a button for your Android or Mac mobile device. You’ll know you have the right one if the AmazonSmile logo is displayed prominently at the top of the page when you open it.
The other important difference between AmazonSmile and our existing associates program is the amount donated. AmazonSmile donates 0.5% of your purchase price to the AAVSO, or 50 cents per $100.00. Even though the AAVSO loses $4.50 per $100.00 of purchases, 50 cents per $100 via AmazonSmile is better than nothing.
If you’d like to donate through Amazon, but you just can’t trust yourself to remember to go through the AAVSO site, a bookmark, or a shortcut, there are third-party programs that will automatically redirect all Amazon URLs to AmazonSmile. Googling ‘Redirect Amazon Smile’ will find most of them. These redirect programs are not supported by Amazon.com or the AAVSO, so buyer beware.
Donating to the AAVSO through Amazon – whether through AmazonSmile or contributing 10 times as much by going through the Amazon Associates Program – is a great way to support the AAVSO. Thank you!