Buy Generously

by John Holbo on December 29, 2004

I’m suffering from jags of survivor guilt. I really can’t bear to read the news. As Belle and I posted at our other blog, we were planning a Phuket/Koh Phi Phi Thai X-Mas junket for our whole extended family. But it fell through when the stateside folks decided they couldn’t hack the weirdness and distance and expense. So I am plagued by images of what it would have been like with Belle on the beach, 3-year old daughter to the left of me, 8-month old daughter to the right.  Also, we’ve been to Phuket and Phi Phi several times and can’t help thinking about all the nice folks who were always so nice to us. I’m sure many of them are dead and many of the rest have had their livelihood destroyed, at least for the time being.

So Belle and I are donating the humble proceeds from our Amazon Associates Account for the quarter. So far that comes to almost exactly $100. A nice round number to pony up for starters. Given that I have resolved to donate x, where x = my commissions, you might consider buying some Amazon products through my Associates account. Hint, hint. Just look under the fold. I’m not an incorporated charity or anything, so don’t come demanding financial statements. But most of us are gonna buy some Amazon gear this year, am I right? So buy it now and – as it so happens – I’ll fire off a check to a reputable charity come the 1st of January [make that January 3, after the weekend]. The bigger the better. (I haven’t decided which charity is best, if that makes a difference to you.) Then I’ll fire off another check two weeks after that to equal whatever amount rolls in late. Then I’ll decide what to do. So if you click to buy after two weeks into the New Year, I’m not promising I’ll still be in the sending checks to charities business. But I’m not intending to turn a profit here, I do solemnly swear. And if you don’t trust me, don’t click. Easy. (I hereby disavow legal obligation to you, is what I’m saying. You’re buying from Amazon. I’m just stating a personal plan.)

I hereby encourage other bloggers – those of you who have hopeful little Amazon begging bowls put out – to follow suit. Pledge your proceeds for the quarter, joe blogger, even if it’s only a few bucks. Say so, so your readers can sweeten the pot. We’re big on chat, we bloggers. But chat isn’t exactly what certain folks need at the moment. [UPDATE: I probably wasn’t clear about this. You can buy any old thing from Amazon using any of the links below and I’ll get a commission. Once you are there, just buy what you want. It’s just there are extra % points if you buy the very thing on the button. Sorry for confusion.]

Amazon Honor System

Click Here to Pay

My advice: just click that box above and give straight! When finished, proceed below and buy the stuff you were thinking about buying anyway. Clicking through the long thin box immediately below will result in a commision to me of 6.75% of the sticker price. And, as I have said, my check to a reputable charity on January 1st will = the amount of my commisions. (Again, I am not a charity. I’m just a person informing you of a personal resolution to give. I hereby make no contracts. You do business with Amazon. I do what I want with the money. But I’m an honest guy. Get it? I’m just saying this in case there’s some annoying legal angle I’m not seeing.)

If you see any specific item you would like in the smaller boxes below, click direct and the commision goes up to 8.25%. Not too shabby. I’m tossing out suggestions for a bunch of indulgent DVD collections, for lack of a more likely plan. Think of it as a golden opportunity to buy extravagantly with less guilt, if that helps open your wallet; if you didn’t get what you wanted for X-Mas, for example.

And one last thing: if by very odd chance, this works really well – well, I’d be very very happy. But I’m just a guy who can’t personally give past a certain amount, then wait months to get reimbursed, if you see what I mean. If some flukey internet ball starts rolling in response to this post and the Amazon account goes through the roof, I resolve to cut the whole thing short and sort it out as sanely as I can, and most definitely not in the direction of personal gain. (Not that I really expect that. But I just thought I should state the obvious.)



Pollie Anon 12.29.04 at 9:47 pm

Um, wouldn’t it be better if people just put off buying (optional) things on Amazon and sent the money to a tsunami charity instead. There’s something very distasteful about this post. Or maybe it’s just me.


Brian Weatherson 12.29.04 at 9:55 pm

Well people should be making direct donations as well, but if they can buy things they would have bought elsewhere through a charitable link, that can be even more $ in the pot. Anon’s criticism (and I find anonymous claims of bad taste _extremely_ distasteful) only goes through if you adopt something like the Singer/Unger line that you have to place the welfare of people in such positions as your highest priority. If they want to do that fine, but I don’t think the ethical arguments for it are very strong.

By the way, if you want a more permanent kind of strategy for doing this kind of donating, caoine has “a permanent donation site”:, where you can generate an Amazon referral link for any item you want by inputting the ISBN. The money goes to Oxfam, not to tsunami relief, but it’s a good cause, and one that we should use every time we use Amazon.


Lisa Spangenberg 12.29.04 at 10:54 pm


I’m feeling really really stupid here, but I wanted to link to the “Buy Generously” post, and umm, I can’t seem to find the link for a perma link.

Really. I know it’s going to be really really obvious but . . . where? Please?


Lisa Who Wishes She Were Anonymous 12.29.04 at 11:27 pm

Found the perma link.

*Sigh* I said it was obvious. You can’t find a perma link *when you’re on the archive post*.

I’m going to go make coffee now.


Danny Yee 01.01.05 at 11:22 am

Given Amazon commissions run at anywhere from 5 to maybe 7%, it’s probably more effective to encourage people to donate some amount directly… I’ve put Oxfam Community Aid Abroad donation links on my blog and main Associates page.

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