Amazon launches charity program, makes donations based off purchases

Launched in time for the 2013 holiday shopping season, the new AmazonSmile program allows Amazon customers the ability to choose a charity that will receive 0.5% of the total price on all eligible purchases. After signing up at, Amazon customers can choose between popular charities such as the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Charity: Water,, The Nature Conservancy and the American Red Cross. There’s also a search field that allows users to search through nearly one million charities listed within the Amazon database.

When asked about the new program, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital CEO Richard Shadyac Jr. said “AmazonSmile allows us to reach millions of existing and new supporters who can help us find cures for cancer and save children. At St. Jude, we’re leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer while ensuring no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food. Working with AmazonSmile gives us a new way to support our mission that’s simple for both us and our supporters.”

Amazonsmile signup screen

According to Amazon representatives, the vast majority of the Amazon catalog of products will be eligible for the AmazonSmile program. Customers will be able to change to another favorite charity at any given time and there is no cap on the total donation amount that will be awarded to charities. It’s likely that payments will be made to charities at specific intervals, perhaps on a monthly basis.

Interestingly, Amazon will reap the tax benefits of these donations. Since all of the donations will be transferred from the AmazonSmile foundation to the charities, Amazon will be able to claim deductions when tax time rolls around. One potential downside to the new program is that customers will have to remember to go through the URL each time in order to activate the charitable donation on all purchases.

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