I was pointed to the section of the Organization's page of the AmazonSmile program called "Spread the Word" which clearly states that Amazon does not allow you to promote this via email or offline methods. However, you can promote this via social and website banner ads. The thrust of my point remains, but the mechanics are different: you still want to get people locked in early, but without email, you'll need to be a little more creative.
Today, Amazon launched a new program called AmazonSmile that makes small donations based on your purchases (0.5% of eligible purchases*) to U.S. charities (501c3 groups) of the user's choice.
As a user, signing up couldn't be easier. Users go to http://smile.amazon.com and are prompted to pick a charity or search for one.
I was able to find a number of great charities already listed in the database, including many an EchoDitto client such as Corporate Accountability International, Brennan Center for Justice and The Wilderness Society. Once I pick one of these groups, every time I shop through http://smile.amazon.com, 0.5% of my purchase is paid to this group through the AmazonSmile Foundation.
I can change my charity at any time, but let's face it: once I've selected a group, I'm not very likely to switch it up.
Which brings me to the key point here of all: if you are a 501(c)(3) group in the U.S., and you are in the AmazonSmile database, you need to send out an email today, not tomorrow, asking everyone on your list to put you down as their AmazonSmile charity of choice. And if your group is not in the database, register today. (Update: As above, AmazonSmile doesn't allow you to promote via email, but they you can promote via social and your website).
Like most folks, I'm on multiple email lists and whomever asks me to sign-up first probably be locked in. The best of these requests will make sure to indicate that the program doesn't cost me any money as a consumer. (Update: Again, think social here instead of email).
Of course I'll need reminding to use http://smile.amazon.com to buy stuff from Amazon (instead of the normal http://www.amazon.com) but that should quickly become routine for me -- why not support a cause I believe in when I'm shopping?
As an organization, you'll need to take another step to actually register for the program to receive the money. But because Amazon has already gathered up "eligable" organizations, you can ask your activists and supports to enter you as a charity of choice now, while you submit the actual (free) registration.
So if you are a 501(c)(3), don't delay. Rarely is there a chance to get additional contributions with very little effort: this is one of those special moments. I expect to see about twenty emails in my inbox tomorrow (and tweets and Facebook posts) asking me to put my AmazonSmile support towards twenty different organizations. You want to be the first one I open.
*Eligible purchases are defined as those found by shopping through smile.amazon.com According to Amazon, "Tens of millions of products on AmazonSmile are eligible for donations. You will see eligible products marked “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” on their product detail pages."