Amazon’s business practices and footprint have received plenty of criticism over the years. From its misleading products and reviews and its environmental impact to its effect on small businesses and its own employees, its shoppers are left with a fair amount of guilt every time they use its convenient platform. AmazonSmile, which donates 0.5 percent of the price of eligible purchased items to a shopper-selected charity, has been one way for shoppers to ease that sense of guilt. Come February 20, those shoppers will have to find a new path to absolution when AmazonSmile is shuttered.
Amazon emailed participants of the free program about the news on Wednesday. The email said that AmazonSmile, which launched in 2013, “has not grown to create the impact that we had originally hoped.”
AmazonSmile shoppers can pick which charity will receive the 0.5 percent donation from the 1 million 501(c)(3) charitable groups participating. These groups include American Red Cross, Meals on Wheels America, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and local groups, like specific Boys and Girls Club chapters.
Amazon claims AmazonSmile has donated $449,385,192 to global charities and $400 million to US charities as of December 2022. But the tech giant is now telling shoppers that it tried to do too much, and its “ability to have an impact was often spread too thin.”
Unfortunately, Amazon didn’t announce an immediate philanthropic effort to replace AmazonSmile. Instead, it said it will “continue to pursue and invest in other areas where it can make meaningful change.” Its email named charitable efforts it had already been making, such as its Housing Equity Fund for affordable housing and its Future Engineer program that claims to have paid for computer science curriculum for more than 600,000 students.
Amazon’s charitable efforts moving ahead will also focus on natural disaster relief through its massive “logistics infrastructure and technology.”
As the program closes, Amazon said it would give participating charities a bonus donation that totals three months’ worth of donations that the organization received through AmazonSmile in 2022.
“Once AmazonSmile closes, charities will still be able to seek support from Amazon customers by creating their own wish lists,” Amazon said.
Amazon’s closure of AmazonSmile adds to a growing list of reasons for people to frown recently. Earlier this month, Amazon expanded layoff plans from 10,000 workers to 18,000.
Correction: This article previously stated that AmazonSmile donates 0.05 percent of the price of eligible products, but it donates 0.5 percent. The article has been updated.