Amazon closes charity arm, citing limited impact

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Amazon is cutting the charity wing of the company, AmazonSmile, citing a failure to provide enough help to enough groups.

In a statement released Wednesday, Amazon announced that the program, which has given millions since its founding in 2013, would close Feb. 20.

The statement expressed disappointment with the progress of the program over the past decade.

“However, after almost a decade, the program has not grown to create the impact that we had originally hoped. With so many eligible organizations — more than 1 million globally — our ability to have an impact was often spread too thin,” the statement reads.

The company is offering one-time payments equalling about one-quarter of what companies received in 2022 to ease the transition.

The program donated, from the company’s own funds, 0.5% of each purchase to a charity of the customer’s choosing.

Most nonprofits were allowed to participate in the program, which has donated over $400 million over its lifetime, except those Amazon designates as hate groups. 

However, a spokesperson told the Washington Post, there was a clear disparity in the amount of money given to charities through the program.

Only four organizations received over $1 million: the American Red Cross, ASPCA, St. Judes Children’s Hospital and the Nature Conservancy.

While total donations numbered in the hundreds of millions of dollars, the average donation for 2021 was less than $230.

Despite the cuts to charity, Amazon still intends to invest in areas that can make “meaningful change.”

“We’ve partnered with food banks in 35 U.S. cities to deliver more than 23 million meals, using our logistics infrastructure to help families in need access healthy food — and we plan to deliver 12 million more meals this year alone,” the announcement reads.

The slow growth of AmazonSmile likely made it an easy target for cuts during a tough financial time for Amazon.

Following many other tech companies making similar cuts, the retail giant announced that in 2023 it would be cutting 18,000 jobs. 

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