Amazon Smile: Are Charities Smiling Back?

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA

Amazon is the superstore of all online retailers, and to add to its never-ending repertoire of merchandise and services, Amazon launched AmazonSmile in 2013. AmazonSmile is a means for consumers to shop and donate to their favorite charities at the same time. AmazonSmile offers the same selection as Amazon—except the company will donate a 0.5 percent of the eligible purchase price to a charity of the consumer’s choosing. To date, there are over 1 million charitable organizations registered on AmazonSmile. In 2014, AmazonSmile made over $9.2 million, $5.1 million of which was donated to charitable organizations, according to GuideStar.

Requirements to Participate in AmazonSmile

Is your nonprofit organization interested in participating in AmazonSmile? Here’s what you need to know. In order for an organization to be eligible to participate, Amazon states that the organization must be registered and in good standing as a 501(c)(3) organization; the organization must be a public (not private) charitable organization;  and the organization must be located within the U.S. Organizations that participate, engage, support, encourage, promote intolerance, hate, terrorism, violence or any other illegal activities are not eligible for participation. For more details and full disclosure of all eligibility requirements, please see the Amazon Smile Participation Agreement.

Are there fees to register your organization? Nope! According to AmazonSmile’s website, there is no cost to participating organizations and there is no administrative fee or deductions from the donation amount.

What’s the catch?

There is none, but there is a downside to donors giving through AmazonSmile: it’s not the most impactful way of donating to a cause. Remember, Amazon is only donating 0.5 percent of the purchase price. The numbers translate to $100 for a $0.50 donation, $1,000 for $5 donation and $10,000 for a $50 donation. While it doesn’t hurt to have your organization listed on AmazonSmile, you don’t want that to be the sole way your donors are engaging with your organization.

“If you’re looking to make a big impact, using Smile probably isn’t your best bet. Unless you are a huge shopper, these types of giving scenarios shouldn’t be a substitute for donating directly to a charity that you’ve vetted and trust.” — Sandra Miniutti, vice president of marketing for Charity Navigator

Amazon isn’t the first to think of this idea of shopping while supporting charitable organizations, though. iGive, a shopping platform that gives a portion of each purchase to a charitable organization, made its first appearance in 1997. Since then, the organization has over 350,000 members, supports over 50,000 causes and has raised over $9 million. The average member gives over $100 a year.

So, is your organization smiling back at AmazonSmile? What do you think: are these types of campaigns benefitting our sector, or are they taking away from the donor’s incentive to give?

Nhu Te is editor-in-chief for NonProfit PRO. Reach her at nhute@napco.com.

We welcome your comments about this post on the LAPA blog.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Related Posts

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday

GivingTuesday 2022 is coming up, Tuesday, November 29th, and it’s a banner day for many nonprofits. Some use it to launch their year-end campaign. No other day creates the same worldwide feeling of philanthropy and good will. Often stylized as #GivingTuesday for the purposes of hashtag activism, GivingTuesday occurs on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States. It’s touted as a “global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.” Perhaps these LAPA blog resources will help you harness the power of GivingTuesday: GivingTuesday: You Have A Decision To Make Countdown

Read More »
Giving

Year-End Giving

Year-End Giving
You never hear people say, “I know when I am.”  But it’s often useful to know where you stand in a temporal sense.  From a fundraiser’s point of view, it’s important to know where you are timewise  when we approach the end of the year.  One of out of every three dollars contributed to nonprofit organizations is donated in the month of December alone!

Read More »

Donors Drop By 7% But Dollars Up 6.2%, Buoyed By Major Donors

U.S. charitable giving increased significantly in Q2 2022, but gains were accompanied by a continuing steep decline in donor acquisition and retention, particularly among new and newly retained donors, according to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project’s (FEP) Second Quarter Fundraising Report. The Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP) is a collaboration among fundraising data providers, researchers, analysts, associations, and consultants to empower the sector to track and evaluate trends in giving. The project offers one of the only views of the current year’s fundraising data in aggregate to provide the most recent trends for guiding nonprofit fundraising and donor engagement. The FEP releases

Read More »