This holiday season, Amazon.com is mixing business with charity in its newest project, AmazonSmile. By shopping at smile.amazon.com instead of plain old amazon.com, 0.5 percent of the value of their purchases will be donated to the customer’s preferred charity (i.e., a $100 purchase becomes a 50 cent donation). When first visiting AmazonSmile, customers are prompted to select a charitable organization from almost one million eligible organizations. What’s even more amazing is that there seems to be no limit to the amount Amazon will give to charity, although as of now auto-renewed subscription purchases and digital products aren’t included. Donations will be made by the AmazonSmile Foundation, so customers using AmazonSmile will not be able to claim donations as charitable deductions.
Charitable organizations can register for free to receive donations at org.amazon.com. To be eligible, organizations must be recognized as a 501(c)(3) by the IRS. Organizations must be public charitable organizations (not private foundations) and may not be supporting organizations, unless identified specifically as a Type I, Type II, or functionally integrated Type III supporting organization. Eligible charitable organizations must also be located in one of the 50 U.S. states or the District of Columbia. Each quarter, donations will be transferred electronically to the non-profit organization, so this program is available year-round, not just for the holidays. There is no cost to the non-profit organization nor to AmazonSmile customers, and the AmazonSmile Foundation does not take any portion of the donations to fund its operations (it’s entirely paid by Amazon).
Organizations may spread the word to supporters online using web-site banners, links or widgets, and social media posts. Amazon provides a downloadable website banner linking to a customized AmazonSmile landing page for your organization and social sharing widgets to reach your Facebook and Twitter followers. Strangely, however, you won’t be allowed to promote AmazonSmile through email or by using any offline marketing channels such as newsletters, flyers, etc.