RIP, AmazonSmile

Amazon shutters its AmazonSmile program due to lack of impact, despite small charities saying it helped.

Amazon is sunsetting its AmazonSmile program, which allows shoppers to donate a percentage of purchases to their charity of choice, by Feb. 20.

The news comes as the company tightens spending and lays off 18k+ employees — some of whom received notification by email this week, per Business Insider.

Why?

Amazon says it’s donated $449m+ to 1m+ charities since AmazonSmile launched in 2013, but says the program was “spread too thin” and failed to have the desired impact.

In 2022, charities received an average of less than $230, per NPR.

Yet small organizations say it helped:

  • The SquirrelWood Equine Sanctuary tweeted that the $9.3k+ it’d received made a “huge difference.”
  • The Cat’s Meow tweeted that the ~$4k it’d received covered expenses when donations fell short.

Meanwhile…

… others argue Amazon could have done more.

In 2017, journalist Marc Gunther pointed out AmazonSmile only gave 0.5% — so a dime for a $20 purchase — and only when shoppers remembered to use the right URL.

  • Case in point: In 2015, the AmazonSmile Foundation donated ~$12.8m — 0.00012% of Amazon’s ~$99.1B in retail sales that year.

What now?

Customers can still donate to their favorite charities until the program ends, buy items from their wish lists, or, obviously, donate without Amazon.

Meanwhile, Amazon says it will continue to invest in areas “where it can make meaningful change,” including local nonprofits and — perhaps conveniently for Amazon — its own charitable efforts, like Amazon Future Engineer, which funds computer science education.

BTW: We know you’re dying to see the farm animals at SquirrelWood Equine Sanctuary, so here ya go.

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