The Smile-Worthiness of Amazon Smile

Plenty of ways to contribute to charities exist in the current world, from Santas at stores at Christmas time to soup kitchens in your neighborhood. There are so many people in need and so many causes that are worth supporting, so looking for ways to assist in worthwhile organizations is a logical thing to do. In fact, Amazon has made the prospect incredibly easy by allowing customers to contribute to a cause while tending to something they were going to do anyway: shop. Interested? Keep reading to see why AmazonSmile can be used to help in small ways to assist big causes.

The Premise

Essentially, the situation is fairly cut-and-dry. If you choose to shop at the AmazonSmile site, certain purchases can lead to 0.5% of the item’s cost going to a charity of your choice. You have the option of selecting your charity, and you can change your choice at any time. This company will be the recipient of your contributions through sales.

What Critics Say

Let’s go ahead and deal with the words of critics to the AmazonSmile concept so they aren’t weighing on your mind as you go through the good points the post will note. For instance, some could contend that you have to choose to shop at AmazonSmile specifically, and it’s not always reasonable to think that a person is going to remember to do so when they’re used to using Amazon’s main site. Even if we do remember, let’s be honest. Humans like habits, so shaking things up by going to a new URL might not be something we’re inclined to do. Critics of this caliber could argue that the AmazonSmile idea could be boosted by Amazon itself providing these charitable options without the shopper needing to transfer sites.

The response to this would be that the criticism is, in essence, accurate. I would imagine a number of could-be charitable donations don’t happen because the other site has to be utilized. We could speculate the reasons for using a different URL all day, and the answer could be as understandable as a technical issue or as negative as Amazon wanting to appear charitable while not actually handing over much money. These are speculations, however, since the concrete reason remains unknown. Whatever the reason, though, the bottom line still remains that—even if only on a handful of occasions—charities still receive money for these purchases. If you choose a good charity, this occasional money could go to things like feeding the hungry, researching cures, or helping sick children.

So, naysayers, you do have a point! More money could be earned by automatic charitable applications through Amazon’s primary site, but a little can still be better than nothing!

Critics might also argue, on a similar side of things, that the percentage of money that goes to charity is very small. Again, this is true. Half of one percent is tiny, particularly when it’s only that percentage of the actual cost—and only on certain items. This means that shipping costs and taxes are not added into the charity equation, and you could spend $100 on items through AmazonSmile with—if those items are not a part of the program—your charity getting nothing. Once more though, remember that a little can still be better than nothing at all, and if only $2 of your yearly spending goes to charity, at least that amount did.

These are, regardless, things that Amazon could look into in order to make the prospect better.

What Makes This a Good Option

To begin with, let’s reinforce that this is money going to a charity of your choice. This means that, no matter how little money actually accumulates for this purpose, you can support great causes like world hunger or cancer research by shopping. There is no way to undermine this concept in a world that is as purchase-happy as our current one is. Birthdays, graduations, holidays, school shopping—there is something ahead that will require purchases, and if you can support a great cause while tending to those ideas, it’s a win/win!

Let’s recall as well that you can keep your charity or change it at any time during your participation with AmazonSmile. Why is this detail important? Because it opens so many doors in regard to flexing those charity muscles! For instance, it allows you the freedom to focus on the charity you think is best, and if you remain a fan of that institution, you can hold to it and never let go. This could provide for years and years of support for St. Jude or the American Red Cross to provide continuous—albeit small—donations to help make lives better.

Being able to change charities, on the flipside, can allow you to leave a charity that no longer appeals to you, perhaps because you discovered the funds were being ill-used, and it additionally affords you the option of contributing to multiple charities as the years roll on. This year, you could contribute to the American Cancer Society. Next year, Keep Memory Alive. You can continue this pattern, and over the years, you could touch every charity that’s near and dear to your heart. This concept is something that makes AmazonSmile worth considering, in and of itself.

The process of using AmazonSmile is also fairly simple. It’s easy to forget to go to the AmazonSmile page, but Amazon does remind you here and there by asking if you’d like shop on the AmazonSmile site. While it would be a good gesture for Amazon to ask *every* time you shop on the site—particularly if you’re going to make a purchase—it’s a good way to jar your memory about how you can support a great charity.

Once you get to the AmazonSmile site, you essentially see your typical Amazon page with the only noted variations being AmazonSmile details, like the ability to change your charity on your account page. What was in your cart while you were on Amazon’s main page shows up as if you hadn’t changed sites, and this detail makes it so that if you remember just when you’re about to hit the “Place Order” button, you can skip right over to AmazonSmile without having to re-assemble your order. Your wishlists are still there, as well as your order details, your payment information, and your music collection. Basically, if you remember to use the AmazonSmile site, you can act like you’re still on Amazon’s main page for easy transition.

The products that can earn you that charitable contribution are easily marked, so again, Amazon has provided the consumer with a simple process to utilize the tool. The only issue with that ease, as it happens, is that you have to remember (or be reminded) to go to the AmazonSmile site instead of an automatic contribution coming with every purchase.

One last benefit is that the process really doesn’t cost you anything beyond the cost of the items if the prices remain the same. No additional money has to come out of your pocket for this donation to happen, and you don’t have to take further steps to direct the money toward the charity after you select it. All you do is shop, and Amazon takes care of the rest. Why say no to that kind of help for a great charity?

Remember Though

No matter how much you shop on AmazonSmile, the charity probably won’t get a ton of money for your purchases. Keep in mind that it’s 0.5% of cost. That means that if you spend $1,000 on Christmas presents on AmazonSmile, your charity is only getting $5—and that’s if all of your purchases qualify for the contribution. This is not a reason to not use AmazonSmile since, as I mentioned earlier, a little bit of money to a good charity is better than no money (and little bits from multiple customers can certainly add up!), but it is something to bear in mind. If you really want to help hungry people attain food, you might want to contribute more to related charities than what will come their way through your small donations.

For an easy way to contribute a bit, though, pick a great charity on the site, and shop to help a fantastic cause!

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