After the non-stop deluge of shopping promotions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is meant to be a day when we think about how we can give a little something back.
Everyone has their own way of making a difference, whether it’s donating money, volunteering time, or advocating for causes that we believe in. So this post is simply about how you can use the Amazon Smile program as one more way to support those causes without costing you a penny and by doing something you were going to do anyway (assuming you were going to shop at Amazon at some point).
What Is Amazon Smile?
Amazon Smile is a program started in October 2013 where the online retailer will donate 0.5% of most purchases you make to a charitable organization of your choice. I’m using it to support the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley, an organization that rehabilitates injured, sick, and orphaned wildlife to be returned to the wild. (I used to volunteer for them when I lived in San Jose; hence this picture of the first set of squirrels that I cared for.) 🙂
How Does Amazon Smile Work?
When you first go to smile.amazon.com, you will be asked to choose which charitable organization you wish to support. They have a few “spotlight charities” that they present to you up front, but you can search for whatever organization you want and then select it for your account.
Then, whenever you make a qualifying purchase through that URL, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the amount to the organization. You can only support one charity at a time, but you can change which one you’re supporting at any time
IMPORTANT! You must shop through smile.amazon.com for the organization to receive a contribution from your purposes—the regular URL will not work, so you may want to bookmark the link so you don’t forget. Or, if you use Chrome as your browser, you can add on an extension called Smile Always that will automatically redirect links from the main Amazon page to the Amazon Smile page. Update: Reader F.D. has pointed out that there’s now an add-on for Firefox as well, which is good news for me since it’s my default browser. I’ve already installed it and it’s working perfectly!
What’s the Catch?
There’s no catch but, like with anything, there are some things that people don’t like about the program.
- The Percentage. No, 0.5% is not a big percentage. If you spend $1,000 a year at Amazon, that’s a grand total of $5 your charity will receive from you. This program is based on sheer volume of transactions. The more people who select the same charity and the more they buy through Amazon, the more money the charity will receive.
- The Restrictions. Not every purchase qualifies for the program and the amount the donation is based on does not include taxes, shipping costs or other extras. Here’s a link to learn more about the details of the program.
- The Tax Deduction. Because the donation is paid from the AmazonSmile Foundation, they are the ones getting the tax deduction for it.
For me, I look at it as I’m going to shop at Amazon anyway, so my organization might as well get whatever benefit they can. (And, trust me, most organizations are happy to get donations no matter how small, especially if they don’t have to spend any money of their own to solicit it.)
How about you? Do you already participate in Amazon Smile or is this a program you think would be worthwhile to you? Add your comments below!
NOT: AmazonSmile is not the only program that donates a percentage of your purchases to charity. I am also a member of eScrip, a program that applies to purchases you make both online and at brick-and-mortar establishments (including many major grocery and department stores, restaurants, and travel companies) and that contributes a higher percentage in most cases.
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