In an email sent to customers last week, Amazon wrote that in its decade of operation, the AmazonSmile program "has not grown to create the impact that we had originally hoped." It allowed customers to choose from a list of thousands of charities to which half a percent of the money from their purchase would be donated.
Joy Christian Radio was a part of AmazonSmile for a number of years, and founder Ed Smith says it was a lot of work for little return.
"From our perspective, I'm not really sure it was worth it," he says. "At one point, we had a big list of people signed up, but the return on it was minuscule."
In addition to the workload it took to leverage the Smile program, AFN recently pointed out that Amazon leaned on the Southern Poverty Law Center to vet the charities. The retailer looked to the far-left activist group's discredited list of what it calls "hate groups" – read that pro-life or pro-biblical marriage groups – that has been used in some cases as a hit list for violent attacks.
"We almost backed out several times," Smith shares. "For the fact that we had already established such a repertoire with our people to support, we went ahead with it and stayed with the program. But now that it's over with, I'm actually glad it's done."
He recognizes that the program was a smart business gimmick, as it likely convinced thousands of Joy Christian Radio listeners to shop Amazon.
"Those charity programs are really … more of their effort from these companies to get charities to support them rather than them support charities," Smith concludes.
Leading up to the February 20th deadline, AmazonSmile will be winding down, and after that point, the company plans to "pursue and invest in other areas where we've seen we can make meaningful change."
Charities that have been a part of the AmazonSmile program will be given a one-time donation equivalent to three months of what they earned in 2022 through the program. They will also be able to accrue additional donations until the program officially closes in February.
"Once AmazonSmile closes, charities will still be able to seek support from Amazon customers by creating their own wish lists," the email explains.