How Does Amazon Smile Charity Donation Work? (And Should You Use It?)

What is Amazon Smile? How does it work?

Amazon Smile is a program that donates 0.5% of your eligible purchases at Amazon.com to a charity of your choice.  There is no extra cost to you or the charity. The program works with over a million 501(c)(3) charitable organizations.

You go to smile.amazon.com and choose your favorite charity.  Every time you shop at Amazon.com, you need to start from smile.amazon.com to be eligible for the 0.5% donation to your favorite charity.  You can also change your charity at any time by logging into your account.

You don’t need to create a new Amazon account to shop at Amazon Smile. Your regular Amazon account will work.

In 2018, the year for which the latest tax information is available, Amazon Smile contributed $37 million to nonprofits.

What products are eligible for the Amazon Smile program?

In the product description, look for “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” to confirm that your purchase qualifies for the program.

“Subscribe and Save” purchases are not eligible for the donations. Neither are purchases made through the Amazon app.

Are your donations tax-deductible?

No. You cannot deduct the donations from your taxes.  To be eligible for tax deductions, you must make the donation yourself.

Amazon Smile donations are made by Amazon through the AmazonSmile Foundation,  a 501(c)(3) private foundation owned by Amazon.

Can Amazon Smile replace your charitable contributions?

0.5% is not much. To donate $50 to your charity, you will have to spend $10,000 at Amazon.  Most people don’t spend that much at Amazon in a year.

Giving something to charity is better than giving nothing.  But don’t give up on your direct contributions to your favorite nonprofits because your direct donations are likely to make a much bigger impact than your purchases through Amazon Smile.

How to register a 501(c)(3) charitable organization at Amazon Smile?

Go to org.amazon.com to sign up for your non-profit.  Search for your organization by name or EIN.

You must be an official representative of an eligible charitable organization to register and receive donations from Amazon Smile.

There is no cost to nonprofit organizations for registering with Amazon.

Criticism of Amazon Smile

As with anything related to Amazon, Amazon Smile has a ton of critics.

  • People have pointed out that Amazon uses the Amazon Smile program more as a marketing vehicle than as a charitable program.
  • Amazon is a company with hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue.  Donating only 0.5% of sales is too skimpy.
  • Amazon makes it complicated for consumers.  Customers must go to smile.amazon.com to participate in the program.  Can Amazon not simply tie the charity to the customer’s account and allow the customers to shop as they normally do?  This would allow more money to go to charitable causes.

Bottom Line

Amazon Smile is an excellent way to donate to your favorite charities. There is no cost to you or the charity, and the charity can receive 0.5% of the purchases.  The donations generated by your purchases are likely to be small.  Amazon Smile does not replace the direct contributions to your charity but merely complements it.

 

 

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