Destination Digital

RIP AmazonSmile. Working To Make Charity Fundraising That Little Bit Harder

AmazonSmile has just announced an update. It’s not news that charities will want to hear though. Amazon have announced on the 19th of January 2023 their intention to wind down AmazonSmile by February the 20th 2023.

Bad news for charities that use this channel as a fundraising option. It also doesn’t give them much time to get their houses in order either.


Why are AmazonSmile closing their doors?

Charities across the UK already signed up for this programme received an email this month. The reason given in their e-mail to is that the scheme has not created the impact that they had originally hoped when they launched AmazonSmile 10 years ago. The organisation has stated an intention to continue to pursue and invest in other programmes that they believe will have more impact. They then go on to cite providing support to families in need, using their technology to assist communities impacted by natural disasters and other big ticket charitable items like this.

Whilst it is commendable that Amazon has intentions to use their investment power to support endeavours like these, it leaves smaller charities that depend on the pennies that come in through AmazonSmile in the lurch.

Bigger charities have fundraising teams, and enough in the coffers to pay out for events and initiatives to help them raise larger sums in return. Tiny charities are often run by a small handful of people, and rely a lot on the unpaid support of volunteers, and so this move by Amazon will disadvantage these smaller charities. In the current economic climate, this could also lead to their collapse.

We signed the charity Arts Derbyshire up with the AmazonSmile programme to help them gather a few pounds here and there whilst people shopped on the platform. The advantage of fundraising this way is that there is no extra cost to the end user, so they can do good without taking money from their own pockets to support a charity.

AmazonSmile currently donate 0.5% of the net purchase price (excluding VAT, returns and shipping fees) from your eligible purchases to the charitable organisation of your choice.” So the numbers aren’t huge in the first place, which is why their statement that it hasn’t had much impact feels to us like a self-fulfilling prophecy.


So what are AmazonSmile investing in instead?

In the explainer e-mail they outline the range of partnerships that they will continue to support, including:

  • An increased support for a charity coalition set up with ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown to help 50,000 families in Scotland. This is an initiative that donates essential goods to families in need.
  • They have also announced a new partnership with Comic Relief, again to support families across the UK pressures caused by the cost of living crisis.
  • They are continuing to support the product donations programme that gives products a second life by donating to communities in the UK. Selling partners use Amazon’s fulfilment service to donate overstock and returned items to distribute these goods
  • There is also a new Amazon for Charities programme. This allows charities to raise money by selling their products and collecting 100% of the profits. Taking a look at this store, large charities like Marie Curie, Macmillan Cancer Support, and the Royal British Legion are all signed up. So if you run a charity that has merchandise to sell, this could be an opportunity for your charity.

The emphasis for Amazon going forwards is on providing support for communities, and much of the support is offered through the shifting of stock that (if we were cynically minded) might otherwise end up in landfill (and as anyone who handles stock knows there are disposal charges and taxes associated with that). So this is disappointing news.


What can I do to replace this revenue stream for my charity?

If you are a charity that has been using AmazonSmile and have missed this announcement, consider this a PSA. You might also be wondering what other ways you can raise cash with this door shut.

  • Hang onto your account for now. Amazon have stated that as part of the exit plan, they will be donating 50% of the value raised in the last 12 months, and that you can still accrue earnings until the 20th of February. So if you raised £50 through AmazonSmile during that time, you will get £25 from Amazon as a parting gift. If you raised £10,000, you will receive £5000, and so on.
  • If it is appropriate, your charity could set up a wish list which helps others to purchase goods from Amazon and supply them into your charity. This is handy if you regularly need lots of consumable items like blankets, toiletries or other things appropriate to the operations of your charity and could be a real help.
  • If you have merchandise, then signing up for the Amazon For Charities programme to sell your merch on at 100% profit will also be helpful. Not every charity can afford the complexity or need to stock hold merch, but if a trading arm is one of the facets of your charity, then this could be a good opportunity for you.

There are otherwise a good number of fundraising options, where lots of people will be aware of organisations like Just Giving and The Giving Machine. We wrote about how to set up a Give As You Live account on this blog, and have also set up Facebook Fundraising and PayPal Donate too. But there are other digital platforms out there, which can help you broad base the attention you can get for your organisation and increase your donations opportunities.


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