Giving Money via Amazon

Donating to Charity When You Shop at Amazon Smile

Giving Money via Amazon
August 13, 2015

Amazon is an online retail juggernaut. Luckily, the gigantic company uses its clout to make positive changes in the world rather than just focusing on its bottom line. One way Amazon gives back is through its shopping program called Amazon Smile.

What Is Amazon Smile?

Amazon Smile is a program that allows you to support charitable organizations whenever you shop at Amazon. As an added bonus, there is no additional cost added to your order. Instead, Amazon takes the money they donate out of their profits.

How Does It Work?

All you have to do to participate in Amazon Smile is start each Amazon shopping session by visiting http://smile.amazon.com/. By doing this, you will ensure that Amazon can track your purchases in order to make the proper donations.

The first time you visit Amazon Smile, they will ask you to select a charity to support with your donations. Simply select one of the displayed charities or search for a charity in your area. Once you have selected a charity, shop as normal and Amazon will make a donation based on your total purchase price.

Currently, Amazon donates half of one percent of the purchase price of items marked "Eligible for Amazon Smile" on individual product pages. Not every product qualifies for Amazon Smile donations. A couple of the larger categories not included in the program are subscription renewals and purchases made through Amazon's Subscribe and Save program.

Other amounts you pay to Amazon, such as shipping and handling, taxes, gift wrapping fees or service charges do not figure into the donation amount. Amazon also does not donate based on any savings from rebates. Returned items will reduce the amount given to a charity.

Whom Can Your Donations Benefit?

Organizations like Doctors Without Borders, charity: water, World Wildlife Fund, St. Jude and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASCPA) currently participate in the program. In addition to these and other large charitable organizations, most people can find at least 100 local charities by searching by city on Amazon Smile's website.

To ensure that Amazon only supports upstanding charities, some guidelines have been put into place to protect Amazon's customers. The company currently only allows United States based 501(c)(3) charitable organizations in good standing with the IRS to participate in Amazon Smile. Amazon takes an extra step and uses an outside vendor, GuideStar USA, Inc., to verify this information.

Amazon Smile charitable organizations cannot support violence, hate, money laundering, terrorism or any other illegal activities. Amazon uses vendors including the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Southern Poverty Law Center in order to weed out those organizations that do not meet these standards. However, Amazon cannot guarantee that all listed charities abide by these restrictions.

Make sure to verify that the organization you support accomplishes the mission you think it does before selecting them as your Amazon Smile charity. You can change the charity you support at any time by clicking the "Change Your Charity" link under the account settings.

Can You Claim the Donations on Your Tax Return?

Unfortunately, you cannot claim Amazon Smile donations on your tax return. Amazon makes the actual donations so only Amazon can claim the deductions on their tax return. Just remember, you get to help your favorite charities and it does not cost you anything extra. It does not matter who gets the tax deduction in the big scheme of things.

We hope that more people will take advantage of the Amazon Smile program to support a worthy cause of their choice. It only takes a couple of seconds longer to type in smile.amazon.com instead of www.amazon.com, so help out your favorite charity with some extra cash by making just a few extra keystrokes. You will make the world a better place.

  Conversation   |   21 Comments

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Sarah | 08.13.15 @ 20:19
I have looked at the program a few times and always got distracted before choosing a charity since the one I had hoped was there was not. This reminds me that I really should get back there and choose something to benefit from my Amazon habit.
Casey | 08.14.15 @ 12:04
Is buying used electronics a wise choice? Will the money saved be worth it while not having a warranty?
JIM | 08.14.15 @ 14:33
Who actually gets the tax write of the donations? Amazon or the retailer?
Britt | 08.15.15 @ 04:12
I think that it is really cool that we can help support charities now by just buying stuff from amazon. I think it's a great feature.
Alec | 08.15.15 @ 04:30
I'm going to look this up later! I'd never heard of it. With the amount of money Amazon makes per year, I'm glad they're paying it back into the community/country. I just wish the percentage was a little higher.
Kaila | 08.15.15 @ 06:59
I actually knew about this program, I was disappointed they did not have the charity I wanted to support on it, however I was able to find a good one. My problem is I forget when I'm clicking from external links into amazon to chance it to the smile programs links. I wish they would make it so it was just a setting you could set it to auto do on every purchase no matter how you got to amazon.
Irene | 08.15.15 @ 10:30
I had no idea I could give to charity just by shopping. This is wonderful.
Daniel Dohlstrom | 08.15.15 @ 12:08
I found this a few years back and have had my cahrity set since day one. I thought it was a realy nice thing for Amazon to offer though it could be made a bit more available as I think there are many that do not realize it is there.
Erin | 08.15.15 @ 12:55
This is great that Amazon takes the donations directly out of their profits. I've always avoided donating through a third party because, not only do they get the tax write off, but they get to claim they are donating money that actually comes from their members. Amazon looks like they are doing it the right way.
Crystal | 08.15.15 @ 13:11
I think this is a great program with a lot of great benefits. Glad to see it come to life.
Elaine | 08.15.15 @ 13:25
I have heard about this but never saw it before. Great way to give while shopping.
Angie | 08.15.15 @ 14:02
I had heard of Amazon Smile but didn't realize how it worked. I'll make it a point to do this from now on when I make my purchases there. Nice informative article!
Kamie | 08.15.15 @ 14:40
I have had this set up since the day they started it :) Though, I wish I could see how much I have helped out with.
Meredith L | 08.15.15 @ 15:45
@JIM my best guess is Amazon gets the write off because they're the ones who write the checks to the charities. Honestly, I like the idea of this BUT I usually donate directly to my favorite charity. Here's why: I don't trust big corp. to do the right thing. Maybe I'm being paranoid but the ones who have money generally tend to like to keep them lined.
Martin | 08.15.15 @ 15:59
Very nice program and very generous of Amazon. I was prompted at some point on Amazon to participate but didn't know what it was, so I skipped it. I'm glad I read this article as I'll surely participate in the future on qualifying orders.
Charles Berg | 08.15.15 @ 16:11
I prefer to support the local charities; it's nice to think that my money is coming back to my community. Income taxes should work the same way.
Nancy | 08.15.15 @ 16:44
I have used Amazon Smile many times to benefit St.Judes. I love that Amazon makes it easy.
Beverly | 08.15.15 @ 18:03
I use Amazon Smile all the time. It's a great way to support a charity while shopping. They don't let you just pick any charity, there is a list to choose from.. I only wish the page automatically defaulted to the Amazon Smile page when you go there as I don't always remember to go through it.
Heather | 08.15.15 @ 18:13
I had no idea about this program! Next time I log into Amazon to make a purchase I will sign up for this. Amazing what a good company can accomplish.
Zanna | 08.15.15 @ 18:40
This is such a simple way to do something positive for an organization. I shop anyway, so why not have that credited towards a charity? I love the Smiles program!
gracie | 08.15.15 @ 21:16
I think it's a wonderful program allowing for our shopping to go towards something that will also help others. I wish they would add a few more charities to the list.
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