Why Charities are not using Amazon Smile in 2020.

by Simba 5 min read

Amazon Smile has left many charities with a bad taste in their mouth. What initially seemed like a promising way to raise funds, has turned out to be just a small trickle - unless your name is Red Cross or something. It all boils down to one thing, 0.5% donation of each transaction does not cut it at all. In the end, many charities are left asking: Who truly benefits from this relationship? Is Amazon Smile legit?, Is Amazon Smile being genuine in its allyship on social issues?

I think Amazon Smile is genuine; the totals donated to Charity are huge. Charities should not use Amazon Smile as the primary source of funding. Multiple online channels exist in the space that provides better value than Amazon.

This is the scenario - A charity encourages its supporters to buy from Amazon, the supporters see this as an excellent opportunity to support the Charity. They spend 100000 (Dollars, Pounds) on Amazon Smile. How much does the Charity get? Answer - only 5000! As you can see, only the more prominent charities that have significant reach can benefit from Amazon Smile, even for them, 5000 is the best-case scenario. This leaves the smaller charities entirely out of the equation. Amazon Smile is not a viable alternative.

In this dynamic, Amazon nets a nice profit, has access to a whole new market segment and gets the additional feel-good brand boost from associating with the Charities. It is clear as day - Amazon Smile is in the business of benefiting Amazon.

Most Charities are realising this now and are turning their backs on Amazon. Before we propose a solution to this problem. Lets first understand Amazon Smile.

What is Amazon Smile?

Amazon Smile is a separate website created by Amazon. It is essentially a clone of the existing Amazon.com website. When you shop on Amazon Smile, 0.5% is donated to a charity chosen by the shopper. The donation is at no additional cost to the shopper. Same prices, same shopping experience as shopping on Amazon.com

When did Amazon Smile Begin?

Amazon Smile was launched in 2014. Till date, Amazon Smile has donated 100 million to charities. This is a drop in the ocean compared to the trillion dollar valuation of Amazon.

What Charities are on Amazon Smile?

Charities follow a rigorous registration process with Amazon. Upon verification, they are part of a directory of a million Causes that shoppers can choose from.

How do I use Amazon Smile when I am shopping?

Visit Amazon Smile , where you can log in with your regular Amazon details. Once logged in you can select your favourite Charity an already start shopping.

Does Amazon Smile Cost More?

No, it does not; it is the same prices as the official Amazon site. Products to choose from may be limited as not all product apply.

Why is Amazon Smile Separate?

To keep the products that are not applicable for donation off Amazon Smile. This raises a good question if the goal was to give, why create a separate website. Why not just link my account and allow every shopping trip to be a donation? Makes you think whether the goal is to look altruistic or to BE altruistic.

Amazon Smile Percentage?

A meagre 0.5% that is equivalent to pennies on the dollar. This does not match the time invested by a non-profit, with its already strapped digital marketing budget. This number needs to be 10Xed to make sense. Otherwise, until a better digital solution is available
( hint - it is), Digital Marketing dollars are best spent on the older and more lucrative donor base.

Can you use Amazon Smile with Amazon Prime?

Yes, you can use your Amazon Smile Account with your prime subscription. By offering such a small amount, Amazon does not value the work that non-profits do to attract donors. The time invested in having a suitable donor in your database should provide opportunities to raise way more than a penny on the dollar. Once a donor gives via Amazon Smile, often the donor feels he/she has already played their part. Unknown to the donors, the endorphin boost of giving via Amazon Smile does not equate to real impact. Only charities on the Spotlight program of Amazon Smile benefit, when a regular shopper has to choose, they select the default charities. This leaves many small charities stuck in the lurch.

Personal Take

I believe Spendow is a much better deal for Charities. I will explain why in a few points.
  • The percentages we offer for every translation are at least 10 times what Amazon Provides on Average. Take Nike, one of our 1700+ partners. Nike gifts 4.9% of every purchase to a Charity. This is almost 10 times what Amazon Smile Provides! #quickmaths
  • Ecommerce is driven by Millenials and younger buyers, Spendow via the Catalyst Program, is developing solutions to harness social media. Amazon Smile is not frictionless. Shoppers and Donors forget to always visit Amazon Smile to donate.
  • In addition to the donation via shopping Spendow, has micro-donation possibilities where single and recurring donations can be raised to match the gifting stream via shopping.
    There is so much more Spendow can offer, read more on the link below: