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How Amazon Is Getting Involved In Charity Work

Internet retailer Amazon started out as an online book retailer, but the company has grown into a much larger organization – a multi-billion dollar organization, in fact. Since its inception, it has slowly grown into the largest online marketplace in the world. Amazon’s now more than just a marketplace; it is also a place where users can rate and share their thoughts on items that they purchase. Shoppers also develop lists of favorites to share with other members and rank other reviews and content. This social activity has helped to turn Amazon into a community space for people all over the world.

Amazon now appears keen to encourage more community activity and maintain its reputation with US shoppers. Its new charity initiative, Amazon Smile, was launched last month, and it appears to be an attempt to link Amazon back to grass roots and charities.

What Amazon Smile Will Do For Charity

Amazon Smile will allow shoppers in America to help out a charity of their choice every time they make an eligible purchase. Users who are interested in donating to charity through Amazon can browse through nearly a million different charities throughout America and select one they wish to support. Amazon will then donate 0.5% of every eligible purchase the user makes in the Amazon store to that charity.

take a smile

Tens of millions of items in the store are eligible for Amazon Smile, but there are certain types of items which haven’t yet been included. Items such as subscriptions, mp3s and kindle ebooks are not part of Smile, but this may change in the future. In the case of every other item, customers can choose to change the charity they support at any time and once their charity is set, the purchasing process is not affected in any way. People who purchase product in the usual way or those who pay for Amazon Prime will still order and receive their goods as normal. All donations are made in the background.

It’s not just a gimmick, either. Managers at the company say Smile is here to stay; it’s not just a Christmas holiday promotion. Whether this scheme will also expand beyond the American Amazon site remains to be seen.

Why Is Amazon Involved in Charity Work?

There is no obvious reason why Amazon has decided to adopt this approach to giving to charity. It is thought that it is part of the company’s long term strategy to develop a strong relationship with its customer base, in a similar way that Apple has with its customers. This approach to giving money to charity almost makes it an automatic process. It takes the choice of which charity to support out of Amazon’s hands and places it directly into the hands of the consumer.

Charities would do well to engage with the service and open themselves up to receiving funding in this way. Smaller, local charities have the potential to be the big winners with this new service. Those charities who can increase the awareness of what they do in a local area will go a long way towards encouraging more people to direct their donations through Amazon to the charity.

Sam Wright is a journalist working with Third Sector Jobs.

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