Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

Don’t touch that Smile! Helping by shopping on Amazon.

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Mar 02, 2015

Amazon SMILE is a nice program to support the charity of your choice. But it is all too easy to wipe the smile off the face of your designated charity if you try to help in the wrong way. The reason is that the SMILE program pales into insignificance if your favorite charity is also an Amazon Associate—like Trinity Communications (

When you go to Amazon through an Associate link, “Trinity the Associate” earns a referral fee of around eight percent on all of your purchases. If you shop on the Amazon SMILE site, “Trinity the Designated Charity” earns just one-sixteenth of that amount—a HALF percent.

Now, suppose you’ve kindly set up a designated charity at the Amazon SMILE site ( instead of When you click on one of our Associate links to go to Amazon so that we will earn the 8% referral fee, Amazon is likely to pop up a SMILE reminder. The reminder encourages you to redirect to the Amazon SMILE site so you can support your charity.

Poof! Eight percent disappears in favor of a half-percent.

It is possible to do both at once, but you need a modified version of our Associates link that will take you directly to the SMILE site. We can provide that; in fact, such a link appears at the very bottom of our Amazon information page. But emphasizing this additional half percent means that we have to provide two sets of Associate links—one for ordinary users wanting to shop at the normal Amazon, and one for those who have enrolled in, and wish to shop at, SMILE.

That’s confusing.

Moreover, there are some restrictions on SMILE purchases, and the experience is different enough to make users wonder whether this is the “real” Amazon. So we don’t want to change all Associate links to point to SMILE.

Solution? Well, there is no absolutely perfect solution for everyone. There are several good ways to shop on Amazon, and you’ll find a quick guide on our Amazon information page. But in our case, the easiest thing for you to do is ignore SMILE.

In other words, lock in the 8% and forget about the half-percent. Continue to shop at through our Associates links. No worries.

Only if you follow the instructions at the end of the information page can you secure both benefits for And if that is too much trouble, it is better to forego your SMILE, so we can keep ours!

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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