AmazonSmile – Charitable Donations on Autopilot
With Black Friday coming up quickly and a significant amount of the country’s Christmas shopping taking place online this year, I thought it might be a good time to mention AmazonSmile. The difference this year is that I have a charitable platform on which to do so – so welcome to EmployabilityUK if you haven’t been here before!
AmazonSmile has been around for a while now but has never really been massively publicised by the company itself. I’m not the first to write on the subject, and I won’t be the last. Still, I feel now represents a timely reminder that anyone that shops on Amazon can financially assist their chosen charity. Better yet, that’s without doing anything they wouldn’t anyway, save for a couple of minor tweaks to their online shopping habits.
What is AmazonSmile?
AmazonSmile operates on a subdomain of the main Amazon shopping site, conveniently enough at smile.amazon.co.uk. To all intents and purposes, it is the same site. You’ll find identical products at the same prices as on the main site. You can read reviews, compare products, build up your basket and anything else you would do on the primary site, and other than a slightly different web address, your experience won’t change.
So what’s the point? When you do make a purchase, 0.5% of the total purchase amount goes to your chosen charity. It’s important to remember that this 0.5% doesn’t get added on to your checkout total – it’s taken from the sale amount by Amazon itself and sent through to a charity’s bank account automatically and on a regular schedule.
While 5p in every £10 doesn’t necessarily sound like life-changing amounts, it all adds up. Considering its effectively money for nothing and that many charities need funds more now than ever before given the various challenges presented by the pandemic, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
The fact that AmazonSmile in the UK has raised over £5.5 million for good causes says it all, and that’s money that would not otherwise have been donated anywhere.
How Do I Use AmazonSmile Online?
If you usually do your online shopping using a desktop or mobile device, the first step is to head to smile.amazon.co.uk. If you’ve never used the service before, you’ll need to register and choose the charity you wish to support. The chances are you already have an Amazon account and, if not, it’s a straightforward process that I won’t go into here.
When you’re signed in, go to your account through the AmazonSmile site and click ‘Your AmazonSmile’. There, you can select a charity and then every time you shop through smile.amazon.co.uk, 0.5% of the net sale will be reserved for your chosen organisation.
What if I Forget to Go Through the AmazonSmile Site?
I created my Amazon account in the early 2000s, so it’s fair to say typing ‘amazon.co.uk’ into the address bar was firmly entrenched in my muscle memory. With AmazonSmile having launched in the UK in 2017, it had plenty to overcome. I’m only just getting into the habit of automatically visiting the charitable version of the site.
If you’ve got a similar issue, you have a couple of options. If you use bookmarks for your frequently-visited sites, you can add the AmazonSmile link there – and remove the standard Amazon link if you use it already – or use the Amazon Assistant browser plugin. It’s a shopaholic’s dream in general. Still, whether or not you fit that criterion, the good news is that any link you follow through the plugin will automatically take you to the AmazonSmile version of a product page.
Can I Use AmazonSmile on a Mobile Device?
AmazonSmile didn’t launch with support for the Amazon apps for iOS and Android. Initially, shoppers needed to bypass the app altogether and visit AmazonSmile through their mobile browser of choice for their purchases to count.
That changed earlier this year when AmazonSmile became available by default. Simply head into your settings area and, under Programmes and Features, look for ‘AmazonSmile’. There, you can choose a charity and enable the service itself. Once activated, it remains that way, and anything you then go onto buy through the app will benefit your chosen charity.
This feature isn’t available on apps for iPads and other tablets at the time of writing. If you use a tablet, or generally shop through a mobile browser anyway and bypass the Amazon app, remember to go to smile.amazon.co.uk instead of the regular site, and consider adding it to your home screen as a shortcut.
Which Charities Can I Support with AmazonSmile?
Any registered charity in the UK is eligible to enrol in AmazonSmile, and a vast number have done so already – including EmployabilityUK.
You can browse and search through all available charities when selecting which one to support. There are thousands available, and the chances of finding one you’re passionate about are huge. If you can’t find the organisation you’d like to support, you might be doing them a favour by pointing them in the right direction.
If you’re directly involved with a charity in any capacity, from donors and volunteers to employees and trustees, the decision becomes an easy one. In affiliate marketing, where Amazon plays a significant role in my business and many others, purchasing through your own links is not only frowned upon but can result in account termination. That’s not the case with AmazonSmile.
From the chief executive to the chair of trustees, even those closest to the organisation can select their own charity and raise funds for their cause while shopping online as usual.
Can My Charity Join AmazonSmile?
If you feel that AmazonSmile could be beneficial to your charity, but you’re not yet involved, you’ll be pleased to know that the enrolment process is only slightly more involved than the shopping. Any organisation with a registered charity number and a UK charity bank account is eligible.
Head to org.amazon.co.uk and follow the instructions to add your charity to the AmazonSmile database.
I can’t stress enough just how worthwhile AmazonSmile can be for charities at any time, not least when some have seen their traditional funding sources restricted or eliminated altogether.
You might be thinking that you can’t make much of a difference with how much you spend on Amazon, but as someone heavily involved with several charities at this time, I can assure you that ‘any money > no money’. My most recent Amazon order earlier this month came to £27.97. In placing that order, I raised just under 14p for EmployabilityUK.
That 14p will join the £22.71 my orders have raised to date, and I’m just one person.
Will AmazonSmile revolutionise charity fundraising? That’s highly unlikely. However, with an estimated 15 million Prime members in the UK, there’s room for growth and increased awareness. If each of those members spends £80 each year, equivalent to spending the same as an annual Prime membership again, that’s another £6 million in the coffers of UK charities. That’s without considering non-Prime members – a reported 90% of UK adults shop on the site. Christmas 2020 will be unusual for all sorts of reasons, but if you’re fortunate enough to be in a position to buy gifts online this year, your 0.5% can make all the difference.