How Churches Can Use Amazon Wish Lists
For many churches and ministries, part of the purpose of having a website is to provide opportunities for people to support the organization. Many church websites offer visitors the option to make a financial donation towards the ministry, but what if someone wants to donate something more tangible? Having an Amazon.com wish list integrated into your church website gives visitors the ability to easily purchase specific items your church or ministry needs.
What is an Amazon wish list? Well, it’s sort of like an wedding registry, but it doesn’t have to be for a specific event. With a wish list, you can look at items on Amazon, and add them to a wish list, then include the wish list on your church website. Visitors click on the items from your website, buy them on Amazon, and they’re shipped directly to the church. Here’s the wish list for the church I pastor, and here’s another example of a wish list created by the camp I worked at in college, Crossways Camping Ministries.
Using an Amazon wish list instead of just asking for money or even asking for specific items encourages people who may not be otherwise likely to give to be willing to contribute. For instance, as a seminary student who’d previously worked at camp, I don’t have very much discretionary income, but I wanted to help my camp. Since I’m an Amazon Prime member, I have free shipping through Amazon, and I’m very comfortable purchasing through them. In addition, I happened to have some gift card money on Amazon that I’d gotten by selling books through their textbook buyback program. I was in a position where I wanted to help and I had gift card money, but not cash. When I was informed of the camp’s need through their wish list, I was willing and able to contribute in a way that I wouldn’t have without their wish list.
Creating an Amazon Wish List for a Ministry
So, how do you create an Amazon wish list? The first step is to have an Amazon account, which you probably already have. If you don’t have one, go to Amazon.com, hover over the Your Account button, click the “New customer? Start here.” link, and set up an account. Since you’re setting up an account for your church or ministry, Amazon suggests that you set up a new account with the organization’s name in the name field. You will need an email address to set up the account, but you won’t need any credit card information. You can skip the next page where Amazon asks what you like.
Once you have an account, to actually create the wish list, you’ll need to find a product that you want someone to purchase for you. It doesn’t matter what you start with, since you can rearrange your list or remove items later. For now, just pick a book or something. Here’s a good sample book: Church Marketing 101.
On the product page, instead of clicking the yellow “Add to Cart” button like you would if you wanted to buy it right away, click the smaller beige button below the “Buy New” box, the one labeled “Add to Wish List.”
On the next page, it’ll ask you for a name. This is publicly viewable, so name it something descriptive, like “Community Church Wish List.” Make sure the “Public” option is selected, so that visitors to your website can see the list. Finally, click the yellow “Create Wish List” button.
Congratulations, you have an Amazon Wish List! Next, you’ll need to add your shipping address, and it’s a good idea to add a picture as well. Your church logo should be fine, or perhaps a picture of the church building to indicate where the items will be delivered. Click “Add Profile” in the bottom left of the page.
Setting up the profile is straightforward. You’ll need to add your shipping address so Amazon knows where to send purchases. This information won’t be displayed to the general public, but it’s important to have. The “Full Name” will be publicly visible, so make sure that’s your church or ministry name.
The next step is adding your birthday. Even though this wish list is for an organization not a person, you should still put something here, otherwise it publicly shows up as not provided, which just looks incomplete and unprofessional. Perhaps put Christmas as a birthday? The “Unique Facts” box gives you a space to say a few words about your organization. Unfortunately, you can’t put HTML links in it, but it’s still a great place to mention your website. If your church or ministry is tax-exempt, put the tax-exempt number into this box as well. The third step asks if you consent to receive email updates about your list. I’d say yes. You can always unsubscribe later if it’s too many emails.
There are a couple of other details to take care of before your wishlist is completely ready to go. From the wish list’s page (should be the one you’re on), go to “Manage this List,” then to “Edit Settings.”
There are a couple of things to take care of on this page. The first is to check the box to let Amazon share your address with third-party merchants. This lets people purchase items from Amazon.com Marketplace Merchants, sometimes at a lower cost than what it would be to purchase directly from Amazon. There’s no reason not to check this, especially since you’re using your church’s address. Next, check the box to identify your wish list as being for an organization. Put in your church’s website address. Also, note the instruction to put your tax exempt number into the “Unique Facts” box. Click the yellow “Save” button, and your list is ready to go!
What to Add
What you add to your wish list is obviously up to you, but I would suggest putting as wide a variety of things on it as possible. It’s also a great idea to put items within a wide price range on your list. To add an item, simply find it on Amazon and click the same “Add to Wish List” button that you clicked when you first created the list.
Some ideas are office supplies that you know you’ll need in the future, technology items, like computer accessories or a new projector, youth group supplies or games, Bibles, cleaning products, books, or really anything that you want! Keep in mind that some items on your list may be purchased right away, but there’s a good chance that some of them may never be purchased, so if it’s something you urgently need, this might not be the best way to get it. Also, especially for things like technology that will become outdated, be sure to periodically check on the list and remove things you no longer need. Remember, you can also always go back and add new items later.
Once you have some items on the list, you can add comments to the items and rank them by priority. Give a short description of how you’ll use each item. Remember, people want to be involved in inspiring ministries. Share what benefits having this item will bring. I also strongly encourage setting the priorities of the items on the list. Setting the priority helps people decide what to buy.
Don’t be afraid to put things on the list. You never know what someone might be moved to contribute!
Congratulations! You’re done setting up your wish list! Go to part two for how to integrate the wish list into your church website and publicize it.
I’d love to hear your comments on these directions. Leave a comment to let me know if these directions helped you, and what I can do to improve them!