AmazonSmile is a program operated by Amazon and aimed at allowing their buyers to support a charity of their choice with every purchase they make at no extra cost to the consumer. In theory, it’s the perfect win-win situation. Amazon reaches its corporate philanthropy goals and gets a boost to the company’s image, and nonprofits receive funds with little to no effort. Plus, consumers feel good knowing their purchases are making a difference in the world.
But the reality isn’t perfect. While Amazon Smile is certainly a laudable program, it is lacking in some fundamental areas, primarily in the distribution of funds. Users in the r/nonprofits group on Reddit have reported that they see very little money from the program, and many see none at all. While this isn’t entirely the program’s fault, there are a few key reasons for it.
First of all, consumers must pick the nonprofit they’d like their purchases to support. Since there are thousands of organizations to choose from, it means each organization gets very little support on average. It's up to the organization to push for the support, and many organizations don’t have the ability to reach a large number of users, which makes it difficult to garner the needed support on the platform.
Another issue is the low percentage of sales the organizations receive. The current percentage is 0.5% of sales. To put that into perspective, an organization’s supporters would have to make $8,000 in purchases for the organization to receive just $40 in support, and that amount would not be paid out for about 45 days.
A third problem is that consumers have to shop at smile.amazon.com instead of the main website for their purchase to count. If they shop at the main website, their purchase will not result in a donation. Since many people will forget to go to smile.amazon.com each time, many potential donation opportunities will be lost.
That said, the program is still beneficial as part of an overall fundraising plan. Some organizations do receive substantial donations from the program, and those donations are certainly well-received and appreciated.
AmazonSmile is far from the only game in town when it comes to contributing to charity with purchases. There are a number of different programs that allow shoppers to give when they make purchases.
Altruisto is a Chrome browser extension that lets users shop at more than 1,000 online stores and a portion of their purchases goes to a charity. The charities are all vetted by GiveWell.org, but users cannot choose which nonprofits they want their purchases to benefit. Instead, the donations are pooled and split equitably between organizations.
Find out more about the extension at Altruisto.com.
Benefit has an app on Android and iOS. Users must purchase a gift card through the app and use that gift card to make purchases at one of several hundred stores.
One difference between Benefit and other programs is that users can choose to benefit a school, nonprofit, or even just get the cash back themselves like a cash-back rebate.
The percentage a user gets back, or that goes to the organization of their choosing, depends on a variety of factors, such as whether or not they link their bank account to Benefit, and where they shop.
Learn more about Benefit at Benefit-Mobile.com.
Giving Assistant is another browser extension like Altuisto, but it is also a cash-back program that will allow users to donate their bonuses to various organizations, like Benefit.
They have thousands of stores that users can choose from. They only need to make purchases from those stores with the extension installed in their browser.
Find out more about Giving Assistant at GivingAssistant.org.
Aspired is a new platform that makes it easy for businesses of all sizes and nonprofits to connect, and for consumers to contribute to those nonprofits by shopping at their favorite stores just like they always do.
Unlike many other services, Aspired works both online and offline. Users simply shop at their favorite store locally or online, and then can choose one of the nonprofits the business has chosen to partner with (either on the merchant’s website or by scanning a QR code in store). Their purchases then automatically benefit the nonprofit they choose.
Best of all, the money doesn’t come from the consumer’s pocket, so it costs them nothing.
If you’d like to learn more about Aspired, click here to visit the Aspired website.