How to Use Amazon's Wedding Registry to Help a Nonprofit

Photo Courtesy of Occupy Sandy
11.13.2012By

Photo Courtesy of Occupy Sandy

I’m a big fan of using existing tools and resources to raise money for nonprofits. Too many people are trying to reinvent the wheel when one is already out there and could get them rolling on fundraising faster and better.

That’s what three friends–Alex Nordenson, John Heggestuen and Katherine Dolan–did in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. As Alex explained to WFMY News , “We knew there needed to be a simple and easy way–with minimal logistical concerns–to tell the thousands of people that want to help what is needed most, and provide them the means to ship the donation right to a distribution hub.”

That’s why the three chose Amazon’s wedding registry to catalog items that victims needed most in the aftermath of Sandy. Amazon carries everything imaginable and can easily ship donations to Occupy Sandy. Alex, John and Katherine worked directly with the Occupy Sandy emergency relief hub, which is at the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in Brooklyn, to quickly add items to the list, such as diapers, hand warmers, gloves, and even tablets so people could fill out insurance claims.

So far 15,000 items have been purchased on the registry.

You can certainly help Occupy Sandy, but what’s stopping you from creating a wedding registry for your favorite cause?

Creating a wedding registry on Amazon is easy. Here’s how to make sure you get the lucky couple–umm, I mean your favorite cause–everything they need!

  1. Like Alex, John and Katherine, be sure to work directly with the nonprofit to identify what they truly need. This isn’t for a surprise party so everyone will be better off knowing what you’re buying and how many.
  2. To make sure donors can easily find your Amazon registry, give it a first and last name. Boil down your effort to two words. Occupy Sandy was a good one. But if you’re collecting items for a food bank in Boston you could use “Feed Boston” or something similar.
  3. Just like a wedding, give your registry an event day to encourage donors to act soon.
  4. Set up a default shipping location for shipments. Also, add it to the description section of your registry just in case a default shipping address doesn’t show up for some reason. Remember, we’re talking technology here so things don’t always work as they are supposed to. Make sure donors can verify the shipping address with the nonprofit so they don’t conclude it’s an online scam.
  5. If the items are needed ASAP, encourage donors to use their Prime accounts (two-day delivery) or the fastest shipping method they can afford.
  6. Because it can take Amazon up to two days to update a registry with a purchase, encourage donors to email the nonprofit directly so they can be on the lookout for your gift and update their list of needed items.
  7. Use your Twitter handle, or set up a Twitter account with your registry name (e.g. @FeedBoston) so people can quickly communicate with you if they have any questions.
  8. Share pictures on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, or Pinterest so people can see all the donated items and how the nonprofit is putting them to good use!

Lastly: skip the gift wrapping! The happy cause will be just as delighted without it!

Alex, John and Katherine did something smart, but I bet they’re not the first to use Amazon’s wedding registry to support a cause. Have you? Did it work? What did you learn?