Ever since 2013, Amazon allowed a small percentage of revenue from online purchases to go towards select charities, called AmazonSmile. Now, after almost a decade, the feature is going away.
Amazon confirmed that it is shutting down AmazonSmile by February 20, 2023. The company plans to give charities a one-time donation “equivalent to three months of what they earned in 2022” as a transitional step, and will still allow organizations to create Amazon wish lists. AmazonSmile provided 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the organization of your choice.
Amazon said in a press release and email sent to AmazonSmile customers, “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.” Amazon’s own dashboard reports the service raised over $400 million for US-based charities.
AmazonSmile had significant limitations that were never addressed, and could have resulted in more (and larger) donations to charities had they been fixed. Notably, charities only received a cut of purchases if an item was bought through smile.amazon.com, which led to the creation of browser extensions to automatically redirect people to the right AmazonSmile page. The opt-in nature of AmazonSmile contributed to lower usage, but the service ultimately reduced Amazon’s profit, which might be the main reason it’s now going away.
The service was popular with many organizations. Crouton & Friends, an animal sanctuary in New York, said on Twitter, “it made a huge difference to us. That $9400 meant the world. That isn’t nothing to us.” Responsible Charity, a group in India that assists education, health, and employment, said it expects to lose “an average of $1,500 each year.” Another animal rescue, the Oregon-based Hazel’s House, said in a Facebook post, “This program raised us between $800-$900 per quarter. This is a huge hit to us.”
Amazon plans to “continue supporting a wide range of other programs” after AmazonSmile goes away — removing the ability for customers to choose where the money went (among approved organizations). If you used AmazonSmile, it might be a good idea to set up recurring donations to your favorite organization(s) to make up for the loss.