On January 19 2023, a popular post on r/technology indicated Amazon was ending a service called “Amazon Smile,” its charitable donations program:
One day earlier, a Twitter account tweeted about Amazon ending Amazon Smile and the effect the move might have on charitable organizations:
AmazonSmile donated a portion of every purchase to a charity of your choice. The fact that they’ve decided to stop it is super disappointing and will adversely affect a lot of non-profits 💔
— Morgan Bell (@livelovegeek) January 19, 2023
What Is Amazon Smile?
AmazonSmile is a simple way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. AmazonSmile is available at smile.amazon.com on your web browser and can be activated in the Amazon Shopping app for iOS and Android phones. When you shop with AmazonSmile, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added benefit that AmazonSmile will donate 0.5% of your eligible purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. You can choose from over one million organizations to support.
To use AmazonSmile, simply go to smile.amazon.com on your web browser or activate AmazonSmile in the Amazon Shopping app on your iOS or Android phone within the Settings or Programs & Features menu. On your web browser, you can add a bookmark to smile.amazon.com to make it even easier to return and start your shopping with AmazonSmile.
As mentioned in the quote above, Amazon Smile automatically donated 0.5 percent of “eligible purchases” to a charity selected by the account owner.
Is Amazon Ending Amazon Smile?
On January 19 2023, Google Trends data indicated “Breakout” levels of volume for the following searches:
- “Amazon smile ending”;
- “Is Amazon smile ending”;
- “Amazon ending Amazon Smile”;
- “Amazon Smile shutting down”;
- “Amazon Smile closing”;
- “Amazon stopping Amazon Smile”;
- “Amazon getting rid of Amazon Smile”;
- “Amazon Smile impact,” and;
- “Is Amazon Smile going away?”
A January 18 2023 entry on Amazon’s AboutAmazon.com, “Amazon closing AmazonSmile to focus its philanthropic giving to programs with greater impact,” began:
The company, which ranks among the top corporate philanthropists in the U.S., will continue to pursue and invest in other areas where it can make meaningful change—from building affordable housing to providing access to computer science education for students in underserved communities.
The announcement provided a copy of an email sent to users of Amazon Smile, indicating the program was slated to end on February 20 2023. It added that charities formerly assisted through the program could “seek support from Amazon customers by creating their own wish lists.”
Amazon’s substitution of “wish lists” diverged from the structure of Amazon Smile, requiring that putative supporters spend additional money rather than allocating half of one percent to the charities in the program.
The email began:
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 [2-23]. Once AmazonSmile closes, charities will still be able to seek support from Amazon customers by creating their own wish lists.
Amazon claimed it would “continue supporting a wide range of other programs that help thousands of charities and communities across the U.S.,” naming five initiatives. A CNN Business article about the discontinuation of Amazon Smile noted that the company had recently cut labor costs, too:
Amazon recently announced it would lay off roughly 18,000 employees. Several teams were affected, including the human resources department and Amazon Stores, according to a memo from CEO Andy Jassy shared with employees earlier this month [of January 2023].
Jassy, in his memo, said Amazon’s executives recently met to determine how to slim down the company and prioritize “what matters most to customers and the long-term health of our businesses.”
Several social media posts asserted Amazon Smile was “ending.” On January 18 2023, Amazon began sending emails to users of Amazon Smile (or “AmazonSmile,”) confirming it planned to “wind down” the charitable initiative on February 20 2023. Amazon further suggested users could support their selected charities via “wish lists” on Amazon.com.