Nonprofit Chronicles

Journalism about foundations, nonprofits and their impact

Amazon-Smile-LogoAmazonSmile brings to mind the observation of late great media critic A.J. Liebling about The New York Times’ fundraising campaigns on behalf of its Neediest Cases.  “Readers are invited to send in money,” Liebling wrote, “while the newspaper generously agrees to accept the thanks of the beneficiaries.”

AmazonSmile is bit like that. The website, created by in 2013, offers

the same products, prices, and shopping features as The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice.

Nice, right? Well, yes, but not nearly as a nice as it could be.

Two questions need to be asked about AmazonSmile.

First, what has it done to increase the quantity of charitable giving?

Second, what has it done to increase the quality of charitable giving?

The answer to both: Not much.

Let’s begin with the numbers, starting with that 0.5 percent figure. If you spend $20 at, that’s 10 cents. Spend $2,000 and $10 goes to charity–provided, that is, that you remember to bookmark or navigate over to before making a purchase. Predictably, most shoppers don’t. It’s hardly worth the bother to surf over to a new URL to give away a dime.

The results reflect that friction: In 2015, the AmazonSmile Foundation, which administers the program, donated $12,867,013 to charity, according to the foundation’s latest Form 990-PF filed with the IRS. That’s less than 0.5 percent of’s retail sales.

How much less? In 2015, Amazon generated about $99.1 billion in U.S. and international retail sales, its annual report says. (See p. 68). If my math is correct, that means that the $12,867,013 in charitable giving amounts to 0.00012 percent of sales. That’s $1.20 in donations for every $10,000 of sales.

Now, you could argue that this is the fault of shoppers (and, admittedly, I’m one of them) who are less than rigorous about finding their way to the AmazonSmile portal every time they make a purchase. Instead, I want to make the case that the low numbers are the product of a deliberate effort by to depress, rather than increase, giving.

After all, it would be a trivial matter for’s software designers to allow shoppers to make a one-time request to have 0.5 percent of their purchases go to charity, and make that the default option every time a customer visits the site.

As one perceptive Amazon shopper wrote on the company website back in 2014:

This is a wonderful program with a big BUT! Here’s the ‘BUT’: Why do shoppers have to go to the smile link in order for donations to kick in? Why can’t the contributions simply be linked to the shopper’s account? I want to support a nonprofit, but i frequently forget to go to smile. Is Amazon trying to get organizations to encourage their members to use Amazon, but secretly hoping they will forget to go to the smile link so Amazon doesn’t really have to make a donation? A truly noble approach would be to make it automatically link to the shopper’s account.


Further evidence of’s intentions come from the the fact that there are no cell phone or tablet apps for AmazonSmile. Users have asked for AmazonSmile apps, which is no surprise, given the growing share of e-commerce purchases made by phone. One survey found that about 40 percent of all e-commerce was conducted on phones or tablets last Thanksgiving, ReCode reported.  It’s not impossible to buy from AmazonSmile over the phone, by using the phone’s browser to reach the website, but it’s clunky so few people bother.

It’s sure looks as if wants to make it hard, not easy, to use AmazonSmile.

To put the $12.9 million donated by the AmazonSmile Foundation in a broader context: The Walmart Foundation made $166 million in donations in 2015. Microsoft, its Seattle neighbor, donated about $500 million last year. Amazon makes other donations as well, but they don’t add up to much and the company won’t release numbers, GeekWire reports.

Laziness, stupidity, indifference or caution?

What about AmazonSmile’s influence over the quality of giving? By that, I mean the potential for AmazonSmile to recommend charities  that do the most good, or at least those that are more transparent than their peers about their performance. As it happens, there’s an easy and useful metric to identify such charities–the Platinum designation awarded by GuideStar, which I blogged about last year. Alternatively, AmazonSmile could boldly turn to trusted evaluators such as The Life You Can Save, a nonprofit that recommends charities, based on evidence, that help the world’s poorest people. The Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania also does a fine job of identifying effective nonprofits.

This wouldn’t limit consumer choice. AmazonSmile permits shoppers to choose from nearly 1 million charities, it says, and it could continue to do so. But, since its early days, AmazonSmile also has nudged shoppers to give to what it calls Spotlight Charities. The company says:

We do this to make it easier for customers to choose an organization to support from the almost one million available, but we do not endorse any particular organization or the causes they support.

The five current Spotlight Charities are the ASPCA, charity: water, Doctors without Borders, The Nature Conservancy and the American Red Cross. A less interesting list is hard to imagine. These choices can be explained only by some blend of laziness, stupidity, indifference or an abundance of caution. Since the people who work at are neither lazy or stupid, we can chalk this up to indifference or caution.

Of AmazonSmile’s five spotlight charities, only one, the American Red Cross, has a Platinum Rating from Guidestar. If you believe Pro Publica (here) or Senator Charles Grassley (here), the Red Cross is a disaster charity in every sense. Giving to The Nature Conservancy, for all of its good work, is like giving to Harvard: It had nearly $6 billion in net assets and brought in $786 million in revenue last year. The ASPCA has never been ranked among the most effective advocates for animals by Animal Charity Evaluators. As for charity: water, it is at core a fundraising platform, and a very good one, but most of the work it funds is carried out by partners, some better than others.

These recommendations have enormous impact. In 2014, which is the latest year for which grantee data is available, Spotlight Charities outpaced the rest by huge margins. AmazonSmile gave $602,495 to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital–more than 10 percent of all the money that passed through the foundation that year. It also gave $436,338 to the Wounded Warrior Project (!), $265,557 to the American Red Cross and $167,316 to The Nature Conservancy. All were Spotlight Charities. The vast majority of charities brought in less than $100 apiece. (I pulled these numbers from AmazonSmile’s 575-page Form 990, and might have overlooked a big recipient or two. The document isn’t searchable.)

Finally, consider the possibility that AmazonSmile could ultimately lead to less, not more, charitable giving. If it leaves shoppers feeling that they have done their part, they may be less likely to respond to a direct appeal from a nonprofit, as Brady Josephson, a fundraising consultant, wrote on Huffington Post back in 2013.

What, then, is AmazonSmile? It’s marketing, dressed up as altruism. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of charities put the AmazonSmile logo on their websites (here, herehere and countless other places). They’re promoting It’s revealing that the president of the AmazonSmile Foundation, according to its latest Form 990, is Steven Shure, who is vice president of worldwide marketing at Shure doesn’t mention the AmazonSmile Foundation on his LinkedIn profile. His only visible nonprofit experience is as a board member of US Rowing.

In the end, though, to understand the purpose of AmazonSmile, all we need to do is the math. Imagine that you spend $1,000 this year on AmazonSmile. Amazon gets $995. Your favorite charity gets $5. Someone’s doing well, and it isn’t the charity.

No wonder Jeff Bezos is smiling.

A note on sourcing: I tried every which way to get’s response to all this. I emailed two people in the company’s communications department, asked a DC-based Amazon exec to refer my request to its PR department and left a message on the AmazonSmile website. I’m aware that the company can’t respond to all media requests. If I do hear from, I will post a response below.

278 thoughts on “Why Amazon Smile doesn’t make me smile

  1. virtualcolumbus says:

    This is a 2017 article. There is a way to enable Smile now on the phone app. For browsers a plugin like Amazon Smile Redirect takes care of it on the browser. Yes the payout is paltry, but it’s a little something for doing absolutely nothing but what you were going to do anyway.

    The real scam is all these pass-through charity drives are used to reduce the tax burden of the parent company while spending none of their own money. When you give a dollar to the cashier at the Piggly Wiggly to fund dildos for Filipino flood victims, the organization is collecting all of your cash, donating it in their name, then taking the charitable deduction with your money, not theirs.

    I would also bet my last bagel that Amazon and companies like them use these pass-through charity drives as cover to obfuscate their donations to “questionable” charities, bribes, handouts, and attempts to get around political campaign finance law, though that’s less needed now that they invented PACs to allow corporations to completely ignore all finance laws legally.

    Kind of like how you’re not actually buying $500,000 paintings from a crack addict.


  2. Linda says:

    My charity rant would have nothing to do with Amazon, and everything to do with Saint Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Instead of giving to Saint Jude’s. put your energy toward Single-Payer healthcare, so the benefits like those of Saint Jude’s can be enjoyed by all. Someone should make a parody commercial of them, and instead of saying all their benefits came from Saint Jude’s, say rather that all their benefits came from living in Canada and having Single-Payer health care.


  3. JIm says:

    Hard to believe people are criticizing a program which sends $12 million or more each year to charity! Good grief people, this is $12 Million! They don’t have to contribute anything. If this offends you, shop elsewhere!


  4. Brian says:

    Instead of complaining, why not tell people how they can increase the amount that smile contributes? It’s easy: most browsers allow add-ons or extensions. And there is an extension for most browsers that automatically changes any link to a link. You never, ever have to remember to do it yourself. Once you have installed the add-on, every page you view on and every purchase you make will be


  5. Jim Johnson says:

    Once a non-Amazon site has referred you to Amazon for purchase of something and the URL begins with, all you need to do is change the URL by adding smile. in front of the word amazon and then hit the enter key (ignore the extra fill-in that appears when you start typing, it gets erased as you type). You will be sent to the smile site to purchase that item when you hit the enter button. It is no big deal.


    1. Jo says:

      The article says there’s no App for Amazon Smile. All you have to do is put a link to Amazon Smile website on your phone or desktop screen—that’s what I did and so shopping at Amazon Smile is just a click


      1. Crafty42 says:

        Better yet, there’s an option in the Amazon App to turn on Smile donations so you don’t need a different app. I just wish the website was the same and if I have it turned on, I don’t need to go to


      2. Tracy says:

        THANK YOU….I went to Amazon Smile and clicked on “Display on Home Page”…..clicked on then went to my home page and there is was. The regular Amazon Prime icon and the Amazon Smile Icon….simple and quick solution….


  6. Kim W says:

    Best response to this problem: Don’t buy anything from Amazon and donate 100% of your non-purchase to charity. You didn’t need that thing anyway.


    1. Naomi Craig Johnson says:

      LOVE your thinking Kim. Yes, yes yes!!!!


  7. 33fields says:

    I would love to see this article revisited. So much has changed since the campaign was launched. My understanding is that it is now automatic and online orders count too.
    That being said, what kind of entitled BS is this? They don’t owe you anything. They are a private company and you should be happy that they give their customers a way to give back. I work for a non-profit and we don’t exactly like Amazon due to their politics but we are grateful for any means of support.


    1. smiling says:

      Uhhh, “entitled BS…??” Helloooo, Amazon is the entitled entity in this case. Propaganda works well in convincing you that massive corporations with nearly unlimited political power are somehow exempt from any social responsibility. Never mind they use all kinds of public resources on the way to their trillions… and are able to use their money and power to literally create policy and influence politicians and judges… I am no friend of collectivism but monopolistic and predatory capitalism isn’t the answer…


  8. Bob says:

    I would not be surprised if Amazon actually *makes* money from by avoiding website referral fees. That is, if you click on a referral link, then later do a manual search for the same product on smile, the original referral is almost certainly lost. I say “almost” because I am reasonably certain that the referral fee is based on the actual link you use to buy the product, not on the history of engagement with that product listing.

    It’s possible to avoid this, but only if you realize this is happening, and manually change the referral URL to the smile version of it. I’m pretty sure I’ve done that before, and it works. One of the solutions mentioned above, bookmarking probably guarantees that the referring merchant site doesn’t get the commission.

    I suspect that Amazon actually makes money in these cases, because the referral fee is likely to be considerably higher than the charitable donation. I suspect this is another reason they make you use a different web address: it’s a sneaky way to avoid referral fees.


    1. Dave says:

      If you receive compensation for your donation, you must deduct what you received related to the donation. I wonder if Amazon is deducting the marketing they receive by subjecting all donors to unwanted push notifications and marketing? I can use the app, but if I want Amazon to donate to a particular charity, then I must submit to their marketing. This is like setting through a time share pitch for the “free” vacation, only much worse. If they are receiving the full tax deduction for this “donation”, then they owe the IRS years of back taxes, and something more for tax fraud. If you “give” a charity something, then get paid for it, that is not a donation to a charity. Individuals are not able to deduct this donation, Amazon is the donor to their own charity. Seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen here.


  9. Ms S. says:

    Amazon is a business and they are NOT OBLIGATED to give a red cent. At least the option is there. And I find it humorous that a person can admit they find typing a new url over or saving it as a favorite to take too much time~ HHHHHAHAHAAH I add my items in a cart and then I click a favorites link and it’s ready to go to charity. You can’t be bothered to do a few clicks yet you expect a company to give more?

    They have the site to maintain, the charities to track, the payments to disperse. So, stating it’s only .05% is downplaying the impact. When you send money to a third world country like I am through Amazon Smile even 1 cent means a lot when the average annual salary was not even reaching 1 American cent where I am sending the funds to. I think any voluntary help to charities should be appreciated and not criticized….after all giving to charity, no matter what shape and form, is always noble. In my time, I’ve given over 100 dollars to charity doing absolutely nothing except clicking over. That has gone to help hundreds of kids for supplies for their education. Without Amazon Smile, I never would have never heard of these organizations and had the chance to help.

    Don’t downplay the power of a single American dollar in the conversion to foreign currency!


    1. Shali says:

      There are so many bootlickers in these comments. Do you really think there are countries where the annual salary is not even 1 American cent? That’s hilarious. The point of the article was that Amazon is pretending to be altruistic offering Amazon Smile while purposely making it “harder” for people to donate through Amazon Smile. They make you to go to a separate link ( because they know people are forgetful and lazy, therefore Amazon doesn’t have to donate as much. Amazon is trying to appear charitable while purposely trying to reduce donations. It’s disingenuous.


  10. Mike says:

    Yes, your math is off. $12867013 / $99.1B = 0.00012 = 0.012%.

    And if you want to fight back against Amazon not donating, just use


  11. Ronald Chakmakian says:

    FALSE FALSE FALSE- I bookmarked “amazon smile”. One click and I’m there. NO NAVIGATING. Except for the logo, it is the EXACT same including the password, credit card informatioin, shopping history, EVERYTHING, The donation to your perfered charity is automatic and it costs you nothing. Amazon is a hero. They offer a program to give away millions of dollars to charitys of your choice and there are criticisms and complaints? Why don’t you make the millions of dollars in donations. Put up or shut-up. What I don’t understand is why they have 2 websites.


    1. Marc Gunther says:

      That is the exact right question–why do they have two websites?


    2. Pedro Madeira says:

      So many offended Amazon employees. Excellent article!!!


    3. Danielle says:

      I think that was a bit what the article was about. Why is there a need for two sites instead of just having the one that allows you to always donate? Really think about it… its shady as hell. If they really were interested in helping charities they would make this feature much more accessible. Making an app for this would be a step in the right direction, or just simply make ONE site that you can do it all with? Seems simple enough.


    4. You’re missing the point. What you say is true but, the benefits to your charity are nothing compared to the benefits to Amazon. Amazon is USING the charitable organizations for free advertising for Amazon. Those charities won’t get much if they don’t mention to their patrons to use the smile link. Effectively incentivizing them to tell their whole community to shop on Amazon in their broadcast or newsletter or whatever publication the charity normally produces for their community, with community money, to inform the community about the charity… now turned into free advertising for Amazon. It’s pure manipulative evil. Stealing directly from charities only because you can more easily manipulate nice people.


    5. Marcia says:

      Exactly! I have the smile link as my Top Site portal and always go in through there. And now, if I do happen to enter amazon’s regular URL, an automatic reminder pops up to tell me that I’m not on my smile link. True, I don’t know why they can’t link it to my account on the regular website and it could be easier to find, but this year Amazon gave $800 to a cancer research foundation that I would never have donated that much to on my own. And don’t scream about how much I buy from Amazon — I shop locally a lot but have used online purchasing more during the pandemic to reduce exposure. And I donate regularly to other charities. Based on the non-profit I work for, the increase in the standard deduction has done more to reduce donations by low-level donors, and thereby the quantity and quality of donations, than this impact you attribute to Amazon. I know everyone loves to hate Amazon, but this is ridiculous.


      1. Terri says:

        I can pretty much guarantee they didn’t donate $800. Probably .05% of the $800. Amazon says it donated $50 to my organization but I have only seen $8 of that. They have deceptive ways of reporting donations.


  12. Jeff Notbezos says:

    What a bizarre, bitter, overly negative article (and many of the comments are in the same vein). A company adds a new feature that allows customers to funnel some small (but nonzero) portion of what they pay toward a charity of their choosing — and this is bad WHY? People complaining that it’s not enough: Maybe it’s not an ideal amount, but if it’s more than was donated previously, then at least try to muster some sort of positive/optimistic feeling about it. Besides, all that frowning will give you wrinkles. If you don’t think enough was donated, then donate to charities directly — yourself! Someone in the comments here was complaining that she’s upset that the donation amount was too small (then supplement it yourself if you feel that way), and at the same time, she was moaning that she feels bad that this is just a tax break for Amazon — well, if your donation amount was small, then that means it’s also a small incremental benefit to their tax break. Would you prefer it the donation amount be even smaller so that their tax break is less??? Or if they increased the percent of purchases that they donate, would you complain that it’s just for tax purposes? The check that your charity receives will still cash regardless of Amazon’s tax status… But there is no pleasing some people, it seems. There are a bunch of Negative Nancys here determined to be upset or offended about SOMETHING…


    1. bcole72 says:

      Many comments are missing the main point. Amazon is tricking people. The reason it is disingenuous is because it is a cheap marketing ploy, plain and simple. People are more likely to choose amazon for purchases – and to spend more – if they think they are making a difference. It’s the cheapest customer retention tactic they have, just pay 0.5% of sales to keep people loyal. My other point is that Amazon will easily establish an affiliate relationship with organizations that pay in the 6%+ range. 12x more. Organizations should invest their time in working those opportunities instead.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Esorm says:

        I want to know why on my Amazon account it says that $97 was donated to my charity of choice in December alone when actually my charity has only received less than $15 all year long from Amazon smile. All my friends are bragging that their Amazon buys donated hundreds of dollars to my non-profit and I have to sadly inform them that this is false advertising. Why the difference in numbers?


    2. Barbara says:

      This whole article is hog wash!!! If I’m on Amazon and go to select something for my cart a little box comes up and asks me if I want to go through because I’m registered with them and I select “yes”. It doesn’t take a single thing away from me or any other charitable organization I support. You have your choice of organizations that you want to support and for this writer to suggest it’s a bad thing is way off base. It may not amount to big money in the way of donations but if we all did it, it would certainly help them and cost us absolutely nothing!


      1. Sandra Cieklinski says:

        i agree.this article is so stupid.mine reminds me to go to smile when I forget.I rarely do forget as I think its awsome


    3. AC says:

      agreed. maybe it’s not much, and I agree that they should do MORE, but it’s at least something, and I’d rather do something than nothing.


    4. My Amazon smile account says I generated $87 for my charity, my friend’s account says over $100. So, since I am the financial officer of my charity, I only see $5 go into our bank account about 4 times a year. What exactly do these numbers mean anyway- generated $87?


      1. sonja says:

        OMG. Don’t you want to go to your State’s Attorney General with that information? I would explore it, at least.


      2. Anonymous Treasurer says:

        I am in the exact same position. As Treasurer of a small non-profit, I see that the sum or reported contributions (by 3 participants) exceeds the amount Amazon has donated to our cause, and it is not just a “timing issue.”
        Additionally, today I was shopping for an item that was $17.50. I then realized that I was on “regular” Amazon, not AmazonSmile. When I logged in there the price went up to $17.99 – an additional 2.8%, plus tax… Anyone else see similar?


      3. ancyker says:

        This is simply a misunderstanding of the statistics. The total for both you and the charity is a running total and does not reset. That means if you just signed up last year and you generated $20 last year and $20 this year it will say $40 and that $40 will show in the total the charity has received. Amazon Smile sends out checks quarterly when the total amount generated is $5 or more. The program has existed since 2013 so most charities have pretty decent numbers. If you and your friend signed up around the program launch date then a quarterly payment for the amounts you’ve said would actually be pretty spot on. $187 / 8 years = $23.37 per year / 4 quarters in a year = $5.84 per quarter average.

        There are 4 statistics displayed on Amazon Smile:
        “You have generated” – The lifetime total that you have generated using Amazon Smile.
        “Your current charity has received” – The lifetime total that your currently active charity has received from all users of Amazon Smile.
        “All charities have received” – The lifetime total that charities based in your country have received.
        “All worldwide charities have received” – The lifetime total that Amazon Smile has generated.

        In a way, the presentation of this information is deceitful because if you’ve had your account for a while these numbers will be quite high. On the other hand, it clearly states all of these things on the page with the information. People just look at the numbers and make assumptions without reading. You can easily test this by changing charities and seeing that your total does not change.


    5. xlsdx says:

      Add look at you, complaining about other people complaining and thinking it’s not complaining.


    6. bcole72 says:

      This is a a great summary of why Amazon smile is a stupid thing for nonprofits to sign up for.


    7. Dan says:

      You could also just buy from local businesses (we can all see how Amazon’s size is killing of American small retailers) and give your money directly to the charity of your choosing.


  13. Tom says:

    Amazon does contribute its own funds to charities. Bezos himself donated 10Million to Cancer Research (though for the world’s richest man its he’s been criticized fairly for not breaking into the top 50 largest donors list). Smile is just an ancillary program that donates a portion of its sales. Is there room for improvement? Certainly! However, it’s better than nothing. Last year Smile generated $100M to charities. Though that might be a drop in the hat for Amazon, it’s still a nice chunk of change and shouldn’t be dismissed so easily. To date this year, I have generated $110 for my charity just in the normal course of my shopping without the prices of my goods I purchase being hiked up significantly or noticeably. And, there is nothing stopping me from donating directly.
    Though Smile has its issues, our charities are still better off having it than not.


  14. Rob says:

    “If my math is correct, that means that the $12,867,013 in charitable giving amounts to 0.00012 percent of sales.”

    Actually it amounts to 0.012 percent. Your math is off by a factor of 100.


    1. Really? says:

      Yes, they forgot to multiply by a hundred. They did 12 867 013 / 99 100 000 000 = 0.00012983867 When really it is 0.012983867%
      I wouldn’t say that their math is off by a factor of 100 but rather that they forgot to multiply


  15. Hi Marc,
    Came across this article while i was researching on Amazon smile for a blog post on my startup. The frustrations you raise in relation to Amazon Smile are part of the reason why I founded
    Ecommerce generated donations are a lucrative form of raising funds if Causes and Charities have access to the right tools to harness this digital and demographic shift happening right now, accelerated by COVID.
    I wrote a blog trying to explain how Spendow solves many of the pain points with Amazon and why the additional features far exceed what Amazon Smile can do for charities.
    I hope you can gain some value from Spendow in the future. Here is the blog I wrote:


    1. Lenore Kuo says:

      There are 2 problems with your suggestion Simba. Firstly you fail to mention that Spendow is a British based charity so prices of goods are given in pounds Certainly a problem for your non-British users. . But more importantly, there are at least 5 Christian charities listed for donation but none that support any other religion. Why is that? It certainly has convinced me not to donate through you.


  16. Barry F says:

    I’ve been using Smile for months and my total contribution is only $0.27. I feel like all I’m doing is giving Amazon a tax break. I’m going to drop Smile and double my donations elsewhere.


  17. Ben Zenker says:

    FYI, AmazonSmile can now be used in their Mobile Apps:


  18. KS says:

    Have you Smile donors ever checked with your charity if they have received the money that Amazon says you have generated for the donation? I have been checking in on my charity for the last 6 months but they have not received a penny from my purchases although Amazon show that I generated $178 last month and $50 this month. Wow, it’s a great feeling but how can you verify that Amazon is really donating to your charity? Do you have proof? A bank transfer statement, perhaps? Not even a record of all the donations you have generated!!!! Is this Amazon’s scam? I would like to get to the bottom of it.


    1. ralphweitz says:

      I was a staffer related to a 401(c)3 and annually we received a check. It wasn’t large but it was appreciated.


  19. afifkhaja says:

    I agree with what you are saying. Amazon Smile should be the company’s only option and 3% of all sales should go to charity. 0.5% of Amazon Smile purchasing is far too less.


  20. Joelle Rice says:

    All u have to do is bookmark no big deal


    1. Madear says:

      It is so darn hard to use Amazon Smile. I tried to send my daughter a gift card thru text, simple, I do it all the time, right? Well, not so simple as smile came back and told me the telephone number was inaccurate. I checked and double checked and finally sent it via email. Then, just to make sure it wasn’t her service provider blocking it, I sent another (smaller) amount in my amazon App via text. Went thru immediately. Likewise trying to manage my subscribe and save orders thru smile. The amazon app works beautifully, why can’t it be replicated for smile? My conclusion, sadly, is that Amazon isn’t really excited about donating the money.


  21. John Audette says:

    Let’s update things a bit. It’s January 2020 and total donations to charity through the Amazon Smile program are $156,109,910.00. Hardly worth mentioning huh? Too much complaining about everything in our society and way too much complaining in your poorly thought out and poorly reasoned article. Who cares what their motive is? Charity folks have to get over the sackcloth and ashes model.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marc Gunther says:

      $156m over how many years? This is a fraction of a fraction of a percent of Amazon’s profits. Most big public companies do better. Progressive companies like Salesforce give 1 percent of revenues away. Amazon remains a laggard.


    2. Amy Peach says:

      Thanks for the update. I do have to say, though, that motive does actually matter. This drives changes in consumer behavior for specific products under the Smile umbrella and, knowing Bezos, the data is collected differently and used to improve the business model. It drives more traffic to a company that had the brass cahooneys to ask for private donations for their out of work employees shortly after Bezos recovered 3 billion in sold stocks before the market tanked. Greed breeds greed. Don’t get me wrong. We live in a capitalist society so everyone (including Bezos) can do whatever they wish with their money. So as a consumer, I’d rather keep my data more private and donate without Amazon knowing about and profiting from it at the expense of small businesses and employees.


  22. GeekyGranny says:

    Well, here it is 2020 and AmazonSmile automatically changed my normal shopping home page into Smile shopping after I selected the charity of my choice which was a small organization in Flat Rock, Ohio. I think maybe they might have listened to your criticism. Maybe it’s time you update this story and turn it into something a bit more positive. I realize my $0.85 isn’t going to change too many things for this organization, but it’s better than nothing and it makes me more aware that they might need more help than the help they are getting from me through Amazon. Hopefully Amazon lets me know how much money I have raised and subliminally causes me to scold myself and directly donate to my chosen organization. Please try to contact them again and suggest they increase the amount to 1%. The world knows they can afford it.


  23. I am not going comment on Amazon Smile but I find your assessment Nature Conservancy quite silly “$6 billion in net assets” assets being the 119,000,000 acres of land and thousands of miles of rivers worldwide that is protected as in the mission of the organization and for the most part all open to public for free?


  24. neeshweb says:

    I just received an email to say that Amazon has donated £328k to my chosen charity.
    To me, that seems ok.
    Sure, it’s not a lot for Amazon, but I reckon the recipients will find good use for this money, money they’d probably not have the use of if it were not for Amazon.
    We are free to make additional donations to charity from the money we save by shopping at Amazon.


  25. aregularpsn says:

    bdeanna, I waded through all these comments, and then read yours at the end. I’m glad it was at the end because it is such a perfectly logical refreshing attitude, and a contrast to all those nay-sayers.
    To that, I would like to add that something is better than nothing, right? So to those who complain that any specific amount is not enough, then my question to you is, what is enough? See – it is up to you to choose what is enough for you, but not decide what is enough for others.


  26. Ariane says:

    My question is, how does Amazon Smile affect Amazon’s tax bill? In other words, is Amazon getting federal tax credits for the Amazon Smile money it gathers from others and then donates it in it’s own name? If so, I’d rather not participate. I’d rather stick to making my own direct donations and getting the tax credits myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jack says:

      You can set up the Amazon app to use Smile and bookmark it as such on your browsers. Easy peasy… we generate a good bit of money to our kid’s school without really having to do anything. And Amazon gets a tax write-off? Cool, everyone wins.


  27. Michael says:

    I too have gone down this rabbit hole and am very disappointed in Amazon. I would hope they will increase donations to 25% during the months of August and September on “All School Supplies” not just Eligible Items then it would make me Smile.


  28. Jerry says:

    You can set up amazon assistant which will ask you to redirect while on amazon. Just make sure to turn off all other notifications


  29. Andy U says:

    To all those who are criticizing Amazon Smile and not affiliated with a Not For Profit Charitable Organization, please realize the following:
    1 – regardless of the amount, it is not costing you any more to make the purchase you were going to make anyway.
    2 – Amazon does not have to give any percentage to any Charity.
    3 – It is getting more and more difficult to raise funds for our specific cause. Tax laws aside, there are just so many pieces of the Charitable pie that can go around.
    4 – Every dollar helps…ALSAC the fundraising arm of St Judes Children’s Hospital raises upwards of $750 MILLION per year. The average donation is $30 PER YEAR OR $2.50 PER MONTH. A little bit can go a long way.

    Thank you Amazon.

    Andy U.
    President, Empire State Special Needs Experience, Inc.


    1. Darlene says:

      Well said Andy U. I concur.


  30. Lisa C says:

    I see this differently. I’m thrilled that I can specify a tiny non-profit that I personally care about. What other foundation would allow that level of customization? I still donate monthly to them, and when I get my Amazon Smile report, I see it like a huge bonus. This is a really cool program, IMHO.


  31. Kori says:

    I run a Non-Profit and have never registered for this program. I received a letter in the mail that I have a $17.02 pending donation. What??? At the rate they give…someone spent close to $4000 and picked a non registered organizationt??? The only way I can get the money is if I give them my bank account number, routing and either a voided check or copy of my statement. Why can’t they deposit it our paypal account? I don’t feel comfortable giving them all my bank information.


    1. Ann says:

      Amazon has never liked Paypal. They have a (neglected and little-known) competing service called Amazon Pay, so Amazon refuses to integrate anything with Paypal. If you don’t want to give Amazon your primary bank account information, most banks/credit unions have a free add-on account of one type or another available, that you could set up and then provide to Amazon instead of your primary account.


  32. So thanks for telling me that giving millions of dollars to charity is a bad thing.

    I know, I know. You are saying Amazon could do more.

    But you are also treating it like a bad thing that it is giving millions of dollars.

    If you had written this as “what they have given is great, but they could do so much more, and here is why they should,” it would make for a much more compelling and interesting read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. katier19 says:

      I agree!


  33. Teresa Lou Thompson says:

    You know, this hasn’t been my experience at all. Whenever I accidentally go to Amazon, I am asked if I want to go to AmazonSmile instead. Everytime…..


  34. Mort says:

    In a different way, I see two sides too. A few moments ago, I made a purchase. and another site I frequently shop were the same price. I, generally, try to shop away from Walmart and hoping to keep competition stronger. This time, with the Amazon fires in the news and Rainforest Trust being my Smile contribution, I bought from, giving the Rainforest Trust about 35 cents. Being a believer that everything matters, I spent $70 at, making the strongest on-line retailer stronger (stifling competition), while helping the Rainforest Trust with 35 cents that I wouldn’t have given shopping elsewhere (or added to a future contribution). Did I make the world better or worse?


  35. DB says:

    Interestingly, the people on both sides of the debate are correct.

    Those who say Amazon’s Smile program is good are correct. Amazon gives money IF the consumer uses the “smile” domain when shopping.

    Those who say Amazon’s Smile program is bad are correct. Amazon has constructed this program in such a way as to discourage the use of the “smile” domain while proclaiming that they’re doing wonderful things by having it in the first place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. bdeanna says:

      I find your comment half-right, the top half. Just my opinion, and it’s just about your comment, NOT about YOU 😉 As a fellow human, I am happy that you took the time to comment, and even happier to have been born in the US, where freedom of speech is still a thing, despite the number of ppl thru the generations who keep trying to get rid of it


  36. Josh says:

    I just noticed that I have spent a couple thousand dollars with Amazon smile and my total donations is $3.67 yes three dollars and sixty seven cents….. that is outrageous.


    1. bdeanna says:

      Then set up and administer your own system for charitable contributions. Or just donate directly. Or here’s an idea: go to the source, talk to Amazon directly. I’ve found them to be some of the most amazing customer-support ppl I’ve ever talked to. They do care, and they do like feedback. If ppl were ticked off at you, would you prefer they just come to you directly or plaster criticisms all over the Internet?


      1. Rchak says:

        Do you want them to drop the program? Then it won’t be shady and nobody will get anything.


      2. bcole72 says:

        Yes. It’s a scam. It gets people to use them when they otherwise wouldn’t because they think they are giving back. But it’s such a paltry sum… 1/200th of spend. Like I’ve said many times earlier, nonprofits should sign up instead for their affiliate program which makes 6-8% back for the organizations. (12-16 times more). Math.


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