If you’re an Amazon customer who liked to use your online shopping habits as a way to give back to your favorite charity or nonprofit organization, I have some bad news.
Amazon recently announced that it soon will discontinue the AmazonSmile program, which allows customers to choose an organization for Amazon to donate a portion of the proceeds from that customer’s purchases.
Here’s what we know about when the program will end and why Amazon is shuttering it.
AmazonSmile Program Will Be Discontinued in 2023
In a letter to customers, Amazon announced that it “plans to wind down” the AmazonSmile program by February 20, 2023.
AmazonSmile launched back in 2013 as a unique way for Amazon to give back to charities and nonprofits.
It put the power in the hands of the customer, letting each individual choose which nonprofit would benefit from their personal shopping with the online retail giant.
For the last decade, Amazon has donated 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the organization of each customer’s choosing.
Users were able to select their charity of choice from a vast menu of national, regional and local causes. In total, there were more than 1 million choices available.
Why Is Amazon Discontinuing AmazonSmile?
Amazon’s shuttering of this popular program is likely a product of several different factors, including both the effectiveness and financial viability of the program.
The company offered the following explanation to users:
“After almost a decade, the program has not grown to create the impact that we had originally hoped. With so many eligible organizations—more than 1 million globally—our ability to have an impact was often spread too thin.”
Per a report from CNBC, Amazon said the average annual donation per charity was around $230.
But, still, that amount of money can do some good for a lot of the smaller charitable endeavors receiving those donations. So there likely is more to it.
We may have to look no further than the stock ticker and news clippings to find reasons Amazon is “trimming the fat” on some of its spending.
What Does This Mean for Impacted Charities?
To Amazon’s credit, they’re going to continue making donations as promised through the February 20, 2023 date and will then make a final one-time donation to give the impacted charities a boost.
“To help charities that have been a part of the AmazonSmile program with this transition, we will be providing them with a one-time donation equivalent to three months of what they earned in 2022 through the program, and they will also be able to accrue additional donations until the program officially closes in February. Once AmazonSmile closes, charities will still be able to seek support from Amazon customers by creating their own wish lists.”
Amazon expressed in the letter to customers that it will continue making sizeable donations in its philanthropic endeavors, but it will be controlling where those funds go moving forward.
Some of the causes Amazon says it will continue to support include housing equity, disaster relief and community giving.
As for the specific charity you may have been supporting through AmazonSmile, you may need to find a different way to continue that support. Perhaps scheduling 0.5% of your own spending to go toward a donation to the charity could help.
Many customers receive at least 2% cash back rewards when using their rewards credit cards for purchases made on Amazon. Those rewards might be a good place to find funds to donate without impacting your personal budget.