We could practically hear the record scratch when the news broke that AmazonSmile is closing up shop in February 2023. We know thousands of small nonprofits rely on this funding stream, and recognize how quickly many will have to scramble to fill revenue gaps before their spring fundraising takes full swing.
So why is Amazon pulling the plug on this program, and what can charitable organizations and their supporters do to make up for this lost income?
What this means for nonprofit organizations
For a decade, AmazonSmile has been an easy lift for nonprofits to bring in extra cash through the everyday activity of shopping on Amazon.
Organizations of any size could share a unique link for their supporters to connect to their Amazon accounts, and in turn, Amazon donates half a percent of the price of all of their eligible purchases right back to the nonprofit at no additional cost.
For many of these nonprofits—the smallest ones in particular—those additional hundreds if not thousands of dollars have made a huge difference in their budgets and what kinds of programs they were able to fund each year.
But Amazon, which also just laid off 18,000 employees in order to cut costs, framed the announcement in a different light. Amazon stated that the AmazonSmile program, which has allocated nearly half a billion dollars to charitable organizations in its 10-year run,
[AmazonSmile] has not grown to create the impact that we had originally hoped. With so many eligible organizations—more than 1 million globally—our ability to have an impact was often spread too thin.
So with just a month’s notice, Amazon announced that it’s shutting down the program fully by February 20, 2023 and focusing instead on other philanthropic activities.
Nonprofits took to social media to air their grievances. From one PTA in Brooklyn, NY (shared alongside a frowning emoji on their Instagram Stories):
This was a big income driver for us.
Others brought the receipts.
It’s surely small nonprofits like these that will feel the greatest impact from the loss of AmazonSmile. But scrappy nonprofits have always found a way through tough times, and this situation is no different.
Next steps for nonprofits
Groups with AmazonSmile accounts will still be able to collect donations until the close of the program in February 2023, and Amazon will make one severance-style donation to each organization that’s “equivalent to three months of what they earned in 2022 through the program.”
Nonprofits that have Charity Wishlists on their AmazonSmile accounts will have to re-create and share new wishlists of needed items with their supporters outside of the AmazonSmile program.
Organizations with AmazonSmile accounts should think through the following questions with their teams:
- What’s the average amount we’ve been bringing in monthly/annually from AmazonSmile?
- How much must we raise monthly/annually to fill the gap this leaves?
- What kinds of fundraising activities can we add or improve on to raise this amount?
- How can we spread the news about this loss of income with our supporters?
Meet Givebutter—a stress-free solution to your AmazonSmile stress
The demise of AmazonSmile may feel like a big blow, but we promise, it’s not the end of the world—or your nonprofit. If you’re looking for a soft place to land, Givebutter is a free nonprofit fundraising platform that has everything changemakers need to successfully reach their goals, all in one place.
Every year, thousands of changemakers use Givebutter to raise more with:
- Customizable donation forms that encourage recurring gifts
- Truly interactive, fun campaign pages
- Team fundraising features that spark friendly competition
- Event management and silent auctions
- Seamless livestreaming
- Free donor management and engagement tools like email and text blasts
- Plus 100+ more features!
The best part? It won’t cost you a thing. 🥳
Check out some of our creative fundraising ideas and see for yourself why nonprofits are making the switch and raising more with Givebutter. Sign up for your free account today!
Other e-commerce AmazonSmile alternatives
Nonprofits looking to find an alternative to AmazonSmile that keeps the passive shopping element in the mix might be interested in a platform like PayPal, which lets users designate a charity to receive an additional dollar for every transaction they make. Or a charitable browser extension like Altruisto that partners with e-commerce sites like eBay, Etsy, and Booking.com could also be worth investigating.
Anna brings more than a decade of experience in community engagement, campaign planning, and strategic communications at small, progressive nonprofit organizations in New York City.