Charities Criticise Move To Shut Down AmazonSmile

Image credit: Amazon

Charities criticise Amazon for surprise decision to shut down AmazonSmile donation programme that it said was ‘spread too thin’

Charities have criticised Amazon for ending its AmazonSmile donations programme, saying it was wrong for the company to question the impact the funds were making.

Amazon said last week it would end the programme by 20 February as it had “not grown to create the impact” the e-commerce giant had envisioned at its launch in 2013.

“With so many eligible organisations – more than 1 million globally – our ability to have an impact was often spread too thin,” Amazon said in a statement.

The move comes at a time when Amazon is laying off about 18,000 employees, mostly in divisions such as retail and human resources, following a sharp increase in hiring during the pandemic.

Amazon chief executive Andy Jassy. Image credit: Amazon
Amazon chief executive Andy Jassy. Image credit: Amazon


Other large tech firms, including Microsoft, Facebook parent Meta and Salesforce, have also announced significant job cuts.

But Amazon said only that it wanted to refocus on larger-scale programmes, such as its donations to affordable housing, supporting disaster responses or distributing food aid.

The firm said it would “pursue and invest in other areas where we’ve seen we can make meaningful change”.

AmazonSmile allowed customers to donate a small proportion of all their purchases to a charity of their choice.

Small scale

Amazon said the average donation to UK charities last year was less than £137.

It said it would donate an amount to participating organisations equivalent to six months of what they earned from the programme last year.

But charities said Amazon was wrong to question the benefit that even small donations could make.

New York-based SquirrelWood Equine Sanctuary said the donations had “made a huge difference”.

“Amazon claims the Amazon Smile program didn’t have an impact,” the charity said.


“I can tell you as an animal not for profit it made a huge difference to us. That $9400 meant the world.”

Hope Rescue, which benefits stray and abandoned dogs in South Wales, said the programme had been “brilliant”, raising about £6,000 a year toward the company’s running costs.

Vanessa Martin, founder of the Childhood Tumour Trust, told the BBC Amazon’s assessment of the programme made no sense.

“When we are happy with a £10 donation, are they saying it’s better to not give anything?” she said. “Their attitude is crazy.”