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.