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Is AmazonSmile really something to smile at?

Amazon's online charitable initiative has some pros and cons.

This year, Amazon launched a new program called AmazonSmile, which allows buyers to donate a small percentage of their purchase(s) to a charity, or charities, of their choice.

The catch? Really, there isn’t one, unless you count that Amazon is only giving .5% (that’s right, one half of one percent) – or that there is some controversy of whether this will take the place of people donating to charities rather than enhancing their contributions. Some also claim that it might be immoral for charities to sign up to be a part of this program.

But the greatest problem is how few people know of it and how little advertising it gets. Shoppers have to go to to participate, which means it also doesn’t work on the Apps, but otherwise it’s the same shopping experience as The service doesn’t cost anything to the charities that sign up or to the shopper, but at the same time, you can’t write off your “donation” on your tax return.

There are hundreds of thousands of products that qualify; just look for the “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” badge near the “Add to Shopping Cart,” and nearly one million charities are available to choose from, with more added every day. And because dogs/animals play a big part in our office, even small, local Charlotte organizations, such as Dog Days of Charlotte (an organization that helps coordinating foster homes for dogs in high-kill shelters, strays, etc.) can be found. You can change the charity you wish to give to at any time, so donating to multiple organizations is simple. Granted the amount you give decreases, but something is always better than nothing.

Admittedly this is a small percentage, but kudos to Amazon for trying and taking this step. Also, when you think about how many people could potentially use this program, the numbers add up to something substantial. Hopefully next year we will see more companies giving and encouraging shoppers to smile more.



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