How to Use AmazonSmile to Donate to Your Favorite Charity for Free

If you’re like many consumers, you’ve bought a thing or two from Amazon. You’ve likely even had most of your orders delivered straight to your door.

Since many consumers around the world love giving back to their communities, Amazon launched the AmazonSmile program in 2013, and it's turned into a massive success as many users get to donate money to their favorite charities for free.

Want to join them?

This article will teach you everything you need to know about AmazonSmile, including what it is, its benefits for consumers and charities, and how you can use it on both desktop and mobile devices.

What is AmazonSmile, and how does it work?

AmazonSmile is a separate gateway from Amazon’s main site that offers the same prices, items, and benefits while also allowing consumers to support charities for every purchase they make.

Since its launch, the AmazonSmile Foundation has donated more than $215 million globally to charitable organizations.

image showing how much money amazonsmile has donated to charities

AmazonSmile offers a great way for frequent Amazon users to give back to the community without breaking the bank.

Which items qualify for AmazonSmile donations?

There are millions of products for sale on AmazonSmile, and many of them are eligible for donations.

To see whether an item is eligible, you can look for the “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” label in the product’s description, which all eligible products have.

example of the label shown for amazonsmile's eligible products

(Image Source)

If the label isn’t there, it means that the item won’t count towards your donation. Note that “Subscribe and Save” items aren’t eligible for donations, and neither are returned items.

How do donations work?

For every eligible item purchased through AmazonSmile, the company contributes 0.5% of the purchase price (after sales and discounts) to the consumer’s charity of choice.

There’s no added cost to consumers or charities, and 100% of the donation generated from the purchase goes directly to the charitable organization.

The process works as follows:

Once the customer places the order, AmazonSmile puts the donation amount into a fund for the specific charity.

AmazonSmile will then deposit the donation funds via an electronic transfer to the charity every quarter. The organization will receive its funds around 45 days after the end of the previous quarter or when the funds reach a minimum threshold.

Keep in mind that if your chosen charity isn’t registered with AmazonSmile, you can still select it as your charity of choice. Its donations will go into a separate fund that’s kept for eight quarters. If the organization still hasn’t registered with AmazonSmile by then, the funds will go to another registered charity.

Are AmazonSmile contributions tax-deductible?

Since AmazonSmile makes the donations, they aren’t tax-deductible by the customer. To qualify for charitable tax deductions, you need to donate cash or property directly to a charity.

Why should consumers use AmazonSmile?

With Amazon being the leading global online marketplace, the company is generating billions of dollars in sales every year. In 2021, the company reached $469.8 billion in revenue.

graph depicting amazon’s revenue growth from 1997 to 2021

With AmazonSmile donating 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to charities, this could mean that a huge sum of money goes toward people or animals in need.

Therefore, when it comes to using AmazonSmile as opposed to Amazon’s main site for your online purchases, it really is a no-brainer.

Not only are you helping a good cause, but you’re doing it in a way that won’t cost you any additional money, as adding a donation to your purchase won’t raise the price.

On top of that, you don’t have to be an Amazon Prime member to use AmazonSmile, and you can change your charity anytime you please.

True, AmazonSmile may not be the path to large-scale giving as it’s a “one-at-a-time” form of donation. However, every cent that’s given to these charities makes a big difference.

If Amazon isn’t the only place you shop online, you might be interested in checking out these 35+ interesting online shopping statistics.

How to sign up for AmazonSmile as a consumer

Here’s everything you need to know about setting up your AmazonSmile account and choosing your charity:

How to set up an AmazonSmile account

In June 2021, Amazon.com had 2.7 billion visits from desktop and mobile devices combined.

graph depicting the worldwide traffic to amazon.com

With these large sums of traffic to Amazon’s site, the company has made AmazonSmile accessible to users on the mobile app and desktop devices. Note that AmazonSmile isn’t accessible via the tablet app yet.

To use AmazonSmile on your desktop or on the mobile app, you can follow these steps:

Desktop

Step 1: Visit smile.amazon.com

Step 2: Sign in with your normal Amazon account details

Step 3: Select your charity

Step 4: Shop and checkout at smile.amazon.com to generate donations for the charity of your choice

Sometimes users forget to select “Smile” when they’re shopping on Amazon — which means that the purchase doesn’t count towards their charity’s donation fund.

To avoid this, you can download our Smilematic Chrome extension that automatically turns your Amazon purchases into AmazonSmile donations.

Mobile app

Step 1: Open the Amazon Shopping app

Step 2: Go to the main menu

Step 3: Go to “Settings” and select the “AmazonSmile” option

Step 4: Choose your charity and activate AmazonSmile in the mobile app by following the instructions provided

Step 5: Once AmazonSmile is activated, your future Amazon purchases will generate donations automatically

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, all of your benefits are available on AmazonSmile, meaning that you’ll still get to enjoy delivery benefits, shopping benefits, digital and streaming benefits, and more.

How to choose your charity

As mentioned above, once you’ve signed up for AmazonSmile, you’ll be asked to choose a charity that you’d like your donations to go toward. AmazonSmille will give you a list of more than 1 million eligible 501(c)(3) charities to choose from.

You can choose from the list of eligible organizations, or if your favorite charity isn’t listed, you can nominate it by typing in its name. Amazon will let your nominated charity know that it needs to register for AmazonSmile if it wants to receive its donations.

Every time you purchase eligible items on AmazonSmile in the future, Amazon will automatically donate the funds to your selected charity’s profile.

If you would like to change your chosen charity in the future, you can do the following:

  • On your desktop, you can go to your account settings and select the “Change your charity” option. Once chosen, AmazonSmile will again give you the list of charities from which you can choose.
  • On your mobile app, you can select the “Change your charity” option shown at the bottom of your account page.
image showing where a user can change their amazonsmile charity on the website

(Image Source)

Why should charities sign up for AmazonSmile?

Aside from the fact that some of your supporters have likely already chosen you as their charity of choice on AmazonSmile, here are some other reasons you should consider registering:

1. Easy to set up

As long as you’re a registered 501(c)(3) non-profitable organization or fundraiser (in good standing with the IRS), you can sign up for AmazonSmile. It’s extremely easy to register, and after the initial registration, it takes minimal administration to keep it going.

This makes it an extremely easy and effortless way for your organization to bring in more funds without any additional work from your side. For maximum donations, you can promote AmazonSmile on your website and encourage your supporters to select your organization.

2. Can be highly profitable for the right organizations

Even though individual donations on AmazonSmile are small, they can add up quickly if you’re a large and well-known organization with millions of supporters.

Some charities have brought in large sums of money this way and are continuing to bring in even more every year, with a few charities having generated millions of dollars in donations from the program.

Keep in mind that this won’t be the case for all charitable organizations. It all depends on the size and popularity of your organization as well as your supporters.

3. Your target donors shop on Amazon

With Amazon being such an established and popular online marketplace for consumers around the world, the chances are good that your ideal donors are already shopping on AmazonSmile.

As such, all of Amazon's marketing campaigns targeted toward its customers (who are also your donors) will essentially be counting in your favor as you'll be receiving funds without any additional marketing budget required to reach this audience.

Note that even though your donors are on AmazonSmile, you won’t be able to access any personal data about them as Amazon keeps this information confidential. Regardless, you’ll still be reaping the benefits.

4. Offers long-term, passive donations

Since Amazon remembers each consumer’s chosen charity and automatically collects donations from them every time they shop, this income model is passive and long-term.

This means that whenever a customer decides to shop on AmazonSmile, whether it be today or in two years, you’ll be getting the income.

The good news is that many of Amazon’s customers are frequent buyers. In fact, 73.7% of U.S. online shoppers stated that they either “sometimes” or “frequently” use Amazon to discover new products and brands to purchase from.

graph depicting the percentage of US online shoppers who use amazon to discover products and brands

Furthermore, many more people are turning towards online shopping every year.

As such, the chances are great that they’ll purchase more items from Amazon — which means that you’ll likely be receiving multiple donations from a single Amazon user every single month.

How to sign up to AmazonSmile as a charity

To register your charitable organization, you need to be an official representative of the organization and then follow these steps:

Step 1: Search for your organization by name or EIN number and select it. Be sure to select the correct organization as many charities have very similar names.

Step 2: Create an organization administrator account.

Step 3: Accept the AmazonSmile Participation Agreement on behalf of the organization.

Step 4: Verify your email address. Amazon recommends that you use an email address that’s linked with the organization in some way.

Step 5: Enter the organization's banking details and upload a bank statement or copy of a voided check to verify that your organization's banking information is correct.

Note that Amazon doesn’t mail donation checks due to the added expenses of check fulfillment and processing.

It only uses electronic payment methods as this reduces the cost of operational expenses — which means that the full donation amount can be sent to your organization.

Start using AmazonSmile

Shopping on AmazonSmile is a great way to support charities without having to take any additional money out of your own pocket. You can donate to your favorite charity by following the steps outlined in this article.

If you have a charity that you want to register for AmazonSmile, you can follow the above-mentioned steps and start generating additional donations easily.

Love shopping on Amazon? Discover more than 50 of the latest Amazon statistics for 2022.

about the author

Marc Mezzacca
Marc Mezzacca is CEO of CouponFollow, a consumer savings engine that surfaces popular coupons. He has been in the coupon and deals industry for over a decade with a deep interest in evolving e-commerce technologies.