Following another round of historic layoffs that axed thousands of employees, Amazon announced the discontinuation of its AmazonSmile charity program on Wednesday.
The decision was met with outrage on social media, where shoppers, public figures, and nonprofits slammed the e-commerce giant for ending a philanthropic program that has donated around $500 million to charities since its debut in 2013.
“Shame on @amazon for shutting down the #amazonsmile program,” Rebecca Eisenberg wrote on Twitter alongside a photo of her AmazonSmile contributions. “Being able to choose where my donations went (@AbortionFunds) was like the one thing that made me feel less bad buying stuff on Amazon.”
Amazon claims the Amazon Smile program didn’t have an impact. I can tell you as an animal not for profit it made a huge difference to us. That $9400 meant the world. That isn’t nothing to us. #amazonsmile #amazon @amazonsmile pic.twitter.com/O67cPhQ3rV— Crouton & Friends🏳️🌈 (@m_crouton) January 19, 2023
Unlike the company’s other philanthropic efforts, AmazonSmile donated a percentage of consumers’ eligible purchases to an organization of their choice — from small nonprofits to organizations like Doctors Without Borders.
In a press release, Amazon cited the program’s limited impact as the main reason behind the charity’s cancelation, which the company will phase out by Feb. 20.
“With so many eligible organizations — more than 1 million globally — our ability to have an impact was often spread too thin,” the company wrote.
Despite Amazon’s claim that the program’s impact was limited — donations averaged less than $230 — nonprofits on social media disagreed, with many noting Smile’s impact on their organizations.
Extremely bummed they’re discontinuing Amazon smile. It wasn’t a huge % of our annual donations for @SkypeScientist, but it was reliable and a decent amount of money. We’re so small that a couple hundred bucks a quarter matters. Ugh.— Sarah McAnulty, Ph.D (@SarahMackAttack) January 19, 2023
“Just got an email stating that @amazon is discontinuing its #amazonsmile program, which has had a measurable impact on my organization over the last 7 years,” said Lauren Wagner, executive director of the Long Island Arts Alliance. “More importantly, it has allowed patrons to support our organization in an accessible way. Disappointed, to say the least.”
Sarah McAnulty of the nonprofit Skype a Scientist agreed, calling the donations a “reliable and a decent amount of money.”
“We’re so small that a couple hundred bucks a quarter matters,” she added.
In its announcement, Amazon said that it would “continue to pursue and invest in other areas where we’ve seen we can make meaningful change,” including its Housing Equity Fund, Amazon Future Engineer, and other ongoing projects.
Shame on @amazon for discontinuing the Amazon Smile program. You might think it has not “had the impact you originally hoped”, but for struggling animal rescue groups, that money made a big difference. Your new programs do NOTHING to rescue animals.— Dr. Elizabeth Wheat (@DrElizabethW) January 19, 2023
But that, critics say, is the issue.
Michael Ringenbach, a Ph.D. candidate in nonprofit management at Penn State, wrote that the e-retailer’s decision is “extremely disappointing” because “Amazon will now hand pick charities that align w/ corporate interests, gatekeeping millions of worthy charities.”
Another viral tweet echoed Ringenbach’s sentiment, calling the move to cancel Smile in favor of their own charities a “cop out.”
“They just want to funnel money to themselves,” the tweet continues.
Cheapism has reached out to Amazon for comment and will update here if and when we hear back.