Amazon are terminating Amazon Smile, their charitable donation program. The reason why.

Amazon Smile raised $500 million for charities elected by customers over its lifetime of 10 years. A small percentage of the sale price was given to charity by Amazon. It did not increase the sale price of the goods purchased. Amazon say that the charity was spread too thinly, “[the] program has not grown to create the impact that we had originally hoped.”. They want to refocus it. It has affected Nathan Winograd’s charity the No Kill Advocacy Center (NKAC). Amazon Smile will cease on Feb 20th 2023.

Amazon Smile ceases in late Feb 2023
Amazon Smile ceases in late Feb 2023. Image: MikeB
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I received this notification from Nathan Winograd in an email:

“Amazon has informed animal protection groups, such as The No Kill Advocacy Center (NKAC), my organization, that it is shutting down the Amazon Smile program at the end of February. Amazon Smile raises thousands of dollars for individual groups like NKAC every year. Now that it is ending, that means fewer resources to help animals.”

The cynics among us might argue that the underlying or true reason for stopping Amazon Smile is the reduction in profits enjoyed by this behemoth of a company. Like many other internet-based companies they are shedding staff; 18,000 in the case of Amazon. But this seems to be shrinkage after a huge expansion during the pandemic lockdowns when customers flocked to Amazon for their regular purchases.

We have to give credit to Amazon for starting the charity in the first place. A great thing to do. Credit is due. They are the givers and they can do what they like. But they see the need to give to charity because they are so dominant. I believe that dominant companies decide to give a percentage of their profits to charity because they are vulnerable to charges of a monopoly which might result in the authorities clipping their wings. That’s me being a bit cynical (or realistic?).

The official reason given is below. This is from the About Amazon website.

“Dear customer,

In 2013, we launched AmazonSmile to make it easier for customers to support their favorite charities. However, 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.

We are writing to let you know that we plan to wind down AmazonSmile by February 20, 2023. We will continue to pursue and invest in other areas where we’ve seen we can make meaningful change—from building affordable housing to providing access to computer science education for students in underserved communities to using our logistics infrastructure and technology to assist broad communities impacted by natural disasters.

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.

As a company, we will continue supporting a wide range of other programs that help thousands of charities and communities across the U.S. For instance:

Housing Equity Fund: We’re investing $2 billion to build and preserve affordable housing in our hometown communities. In just two years, we’ve provided funding to create more than 14,000 affordable homes—and we expect to build at least 6,000 more in the coming months. These units will host more than 18,000 moderate- to low-income families, many of them with children. In one year alone, our investments have been able to increase the affordable housing stock in communities like Bellevue, Washington and Arlington, Virginia by at least 20%.

Amazon Future Engineer: We’ve funded computer science curriculum for more than 600,000 students across over 5,000 schools—all in underserved communities. We have plans to reach an additional 1 million students this year. We’ve also provided immediate assistance to 55,000 students in our hometown communities by giving them warm clothes for the winter, food, and school supplies.


Community Delivery Program: We’ve partnered with food banks in 35 U.S. cities to deliver more than 23 million meals, using our logistics infrastructure to help families in need access healthy food—and we plan to deliver 12 million more meals this year alone. In addition to our delivery services, we’ve also donated 30 million meals in communities across the country.


Amazon Disaster Relief: We’re using our logistics capabilities, inventory, and cloud technology to provide fast aid to communities affected by natural disasters. For example, we’ve created a Disaster Relief Hub in Atlanta with more than 1 million relief items ready for deployment, our Disaster Relief team has responded to more than 95 natural disasters, and we’ve donated more than 20 million relief products to nonprofits assisting communities on the ground.


Community giving: We support hundreds of local nonprofits doing meaningful work in cities where our employees and their families live. For example, each year we donate hundreds of millions of dollars to organizations working to build stronger communities, from youth sport leagues, to local community colleges, to shelters for families experiencing homelessness.

We’ll continue working to make a difference in many ways, and our long-term commitment to our communities remains the same—we’re determined to do every day better for our customers, our employees, and the world at large.”

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