AmazonSmile’s end is alarming, say nonprofits that benefited

Amazon is ending a charity donation program it ran for a decade in its latest cost-cutting move

AP file

Amazon’s surprise decision to shut down its AmazonSmile donation program has left thousands of its nonprofit beneficiaries disappointed and concerned about finding ways to replace the funding.

The e-commerce giant launched AmazonSmile in 2013, contributing 0.5% of every purchase made by participating customers to the charity of their choosing. As of 2022, the company said it has donated $449 million to various charities.

Before it ends the program next month, Amazon says, it will provide a final donation to each of the 1 million-plus nonprofits that used AmazonSmile, equivalent to 25% of what the charity received from the program in 2022.

Some of the e-commerce giant’s competitors, including Walmart and Target, have community donation programs that somewhat resemble AmazonSmile.

But nonprofits say they feel let down.

Tenisha Taylor says she felt Amazon insulted her Chicago nonprofit’s work by saying its program hadn’t provided enough of an impact for its charitable beneficiaries.

“You haven’t talked to me,” said Taylor, who founded the Ezekiel Taylor Foundation, which provides scholarships to young Black men from Chicago whose lives have been affected by gun violence. “You haven’t seen my bottom line of impact of these brilliant young men that I have walking on campuses across this country.”

Taylor noted the huge disparity between the wealth of Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, and the small amounts that nonprofits use to try to make their communities healthier and safer.

“We are making [Amazon] rich — we are,” said Taylor, referring to communities of color like hers. “At the very least, they can be good corporate citizens to pay it forward in the communities that are patronizing them.”

Amazon’s decision to end the program was part of a strategic shift to support initiatives that work on a larger scale, like its $2 billion contribution to build affordable housing, said Patrick Malone, a company spokesperson. After 10 years, he said, it was time to reevaluate the program. He said the move is not a criticism of the nonprofits it supported.

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The company also recently announced that it would lay off 18,000 employees and cut other less-profitable parts of its business.

Taylor and other nonprofit founders say they are angry that Amazon didn’t give them an earlier warning about the program’s end. Many nonprofits had promoted AmazonSmile in their fundraising appeals because the program provided them with a passive revenue stream from Amazon customers.

Lauren Wagner, executive director of the Long Island Arts Alliance, based in Patchogue, New York, said she had encouraged the nonprofits she supports to sign up for AmazonSmile. Now, she’s concerned that her organization doesn’t know the identity of those customers and wants Amazon to seek permission to share that information with nonprofits.

Malone said Amazon had notified customers of the program’s end and has no plans to share customer …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times

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