What happened to Amazon Smile? Amazon has announced some disappointing news: The e-commerce giant is shutting down AmazonSmile, a program that has existed since 2013, allowing customers to select a charity to which Amazon would then donate a contribution equal to 0.5% of their purchase. AmazonSmile will officially close its doors on Monday, February 20.
In an email to AmazonSmile users, which the company also posted online, Amazon said the reasoning behind shutting down the charity was that it had “not grown to create the impact that [Amazon] had originally hoped,” noting that with more than 1 million charities eligible for the program, the impact of the donations was relatively minor and “often spread too thin.”
What happened to Amazon Smile?
Just a few days after announcing a significant round of layoffs that will impact 18,000 employees, Amazon is trying to find money wherever it can as the company announced that it would end AmazonSmile.
AmazonSmile is a donation program that redirects 0.5% of the cost of all eligible products toward charities. It is a separate website that lets you browse and buy items just like on Amazon.com. But Amazon would keep track of your purchases and donate money on your behalf.
The company started sending an email to Amazon customers announcing the change. AmazonSmile will remain open until February 20, 2023.
“After almost a decade, the program 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,” the company wrote.
Since 2013, Amazon has donated $400 million through the AmazonSmile program. Bigger organizations likely received a bigger share of those donations while smaller ones only received a few dollars per year. But nonprofits are not going to say no to $400 million…
Charities that have participated in the AmazonSmile program will receive a one-time donation from Amazon that will be equivalent to three months of AmazonSmile donations. It’s a sort of severance package for nonprofits.
The end of the program is going to have an impact on Amazon’s bottom line in two ways. First, the company no longer has to set aside 0.5% on purchases made on AmazonSmile. Second, there were people actively working on the separate storefront, charity relationships and more. Shutting down AmazonSmile means that the company can lay off some people who were working on the program.
Amazon started informing people who are impacted by the layoffs yesterday. The timing of this announcement means that the end of the AmazonSmile program is directly tied to the company’s biggest-ever round of jobs cuts.
Amazon currently has a market capitalization of $974 billion. In its most recent earnings report, the company announced $2.5 billion in operating income. It wasn’t a record quarter, but Amazon isn’t on the verge of bankruptcy.
Update your Amazon Charity List
While Amazon has announced the end of AmazonSmile, they will continue to support their Charity Lists feature. If you haven’t set up a Charity List, now’s a great time to do so. By creating a list of items your charity needs, Amazon shoppers can browse and donate requested items directly to your cause. In the past, Amazon has even “cleared out” some Charity Lists, providing an extra impact for those who need it most.
Visit this Amazon page or check out this guidebook to get started with updating your list.
After you set up your Amazon Charity List, you’ll want your supporters to know of this new way that they can support your organization. Don’t forget to:
- Update your website
- Post on your social media channels
- Send out an email to your donor list
Find New Supporters with a Live Stream
Turning a growing list of supporters into donors, advocates, and volunteers is always top-of-mind for any charity, and we know that sharing compelling stories about your impact is an engaging strategy when it comes to making appeals. You’re probably already enacting the obvious methods for adding new supporters to your donor management or CRM, but what about the lesser-known fundraising avenues?
One thing more fundraising professionals should be (but aren’t) using to its fullest potential: Live Streams.
A live stream doesn’t need a lot of careful planning as if it’s a big production. In fact, unscripted, off-the-cuff videos seem more authentic and often garner higher engagement rates than traditional videos across YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and other platforms.
Here are a few ideas for your organization’s first live stream:
- Live stream a conversation with experts in your field or on your team
- Partner with someone on Twitch to turn one of their streams into a donation channel
- Interview someone who has benefited from your cause
- Announce the names or ticket numbers of raffle winners after a fundraising event
Re-engage With Your Donors
Re-engaging donors is a challenge for almost every organization, and there’s always room for improvement when it comes to donor retention. How could there not be when 63% of people who donate on GivingTuesday don’t give to charities any other day of the year?
While there was no way for you to directly connect with those who selected your charity for their AmazonSmile contributions, the people participating in the program may start looking for new outlets to give back once February 20, 2023, comes to pass, creating an opportunity for nonprofits those donors might not have previously supported.
There are a variety of easy ways to get back to being top-of-mind and re-engaged with your current and potential donors, even without Amazon Smile. Consider going online and setting up a fun and engaging social media campaign for your followers, or sending out an email with news about the cause you support together.
You can also increase donor engagement with virtual events like raffles, trivia contests, and virtual auctions. These types of events are great for bringing people together from all parts of the country (and the world!) no matter where they might be located. Lastly, don’t forget to send a physical or digital thank-you letter to your new and returning donors – showing your supporters that you remember them will help them remember you in return!
Encourage Supporters to Participate in Your Monthly Giving Program
A monthly giving program will increase the number and size of donations you receive each year. If your nonprofit doesn’t have one in place, now is the time to get started. Here are a few ways to get that membership signup:
- Give Donors Control – For instance, you can offer donors the option to choose the transaction date and the number of monthly installments themselves.
- Accent Flexibility – Let donors know they can “pause” donations if they need (rather than cancel their recurring giving). Flexibility in giving means more monthly donations.
- Highlight Exclusivity – Monthly donors are special. Give them that VIP flair by naming them. Come up with a catchy “club” name that highlights how important monthly contributors are to the cause. This can also give supporters an extra incentive to sign up as recurring donors.
- Target Existing Donors – In addition to those who already give to you ad hoc throughout the year, understanding your donor personas will go a long way in terms of helping you target those who are most likely to sign up.
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