[Update 10/6/19: Reader was asking about this today, and it’s been a while, so I thought it worth reposting.]
Amazon Smile for Charity
Amazon has a program called AmazonSmile which donates a portion of your purchases to charity. After enrolling in Smile, you’ll select a charity which will receive 0.5% of your eligible Amazon purchases.
What I love about Amazon’s Smile is how transparent the program is. You get to designate a specific charity to receive the funds. And in your Smile dashboard, Amazon makes it extremely clear how much was donated due to your orders.
Most people have a charity or two which is near and dear to them, and Smile is an easy way to channel some money their way. It’s not just the big guys that can be designated as your charity. I ran a search and was able to find lots and lots of small, local charities in their database.
When using smile.amazon.com, each product on Amazon will clearly show whether it’s eligible for a Smile donation.
If you run a charity yourself, you can register to be part of the Smile program here.
How to Use
Enrolling in Smile is not enough to make your purchases eligible for a charity donation. Each and every purchase must be made through smile.amazon.com to trigger the donation.
If you’re starting a search on Amazon, go to smile.amazon.com. If you are on a specific Amazon page, it’s easy to change it over from an ordinary Amazon page to become a Smile page by adding “smile” at the beginning of the URL.
For example, I was looking at a laptop at the webpage: “https://www.amazon.com/Student-i3-6100U-Windows-Notebook-Computer/dp/B071CVCJGC/”. To change over the link, I stripped out the beginning of the link and added “smile” so it looked like this: “smile.amazon.com/Student-i3-6100U-Windows-Notebook-Computer/dp/B071CVCJGC”. You’ll then see a note on the page (picture above) indicating that the item is eligible for Smile.
Automating the Donation
Amazon’s own extension doesn’t really do the job (among other concerns), and I’d recommend instead the Smile Always extension for Chrome or the Smile Redirect add-on in Firefox. Every Amazon weblink gets auto-converted to a Smile link using these extensions.
Most items purchased on Amazon are eligible for Smile donations. There are, however, some items which are not eligible:
- Amazon gift cards and third-party gift cards (I don’t see the “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” note there; apparently they aren’t eligible)
- Subscribe & Save purchases are not eligible
- Purchases which got returned are not eligible
- Shipping & handling fees, gift-wrapping fees, taxes, or service charges are not eligible
Stacking with the Portal
A question we get often is whether you can stack Smile with an affiliate channel. In short, the answer is: yes, Smile + portal do stack.
A few Amazon categories are eligible for traditional shopping portal cash back. Some people also shop through website affiliates (such as this blog’s link or another blog’s link) who get paid a commission on sales. Whichever one of these you use, it’s likely going through the same Amazon affiliate program called Amazon Associates.
Amazon states clearly that purchases made through affiliates are still eligible for Smile donations (“Amazon Associates may earn referral fees by sending traffic to smile.amazon.com or www.amazon.com”), and we’ve confirmed this with them directly as well. A report has confirms this works for using shopping portals + smile as well which is logical given that they probably use the same affiliate system.
How to Stack Portal with a Smile Donation
When you click through a shopping portal or affiliate channel, they won’t direct you to a Smile page. Be sure to add “smile.” to the URL, as described above, in order to make the purchase eligible for a Smile donation. If you’re using one the above-mentioned extensions, it’ll happen automatically, and it’ll automatically retain the affiliate/portal tracking as well.
Here’s what our Amazon affiliate link looks like, in conjunction with smile added on: https://smile.amazon.com/ref=as_li_ss_tl?tag=d09c7-20
Once you’ve clicked through an affiliate channel, there is a cookie in your browser which remains there for 24 hours. Even if you open a new tab or window, it’ll track back to the affiliate channel, provided that: 1) you are using the same browser, 2) you are not using a separate browsing session (e.g. incognito or if you cleared cookies), and 3) you have not clicked on another affiliate link afterward.
Adding Smile to the beginning of the link in the same tab or a new tab will continue tracking the affiliate, and you’ll end up triggering the charity donation without losing out on the portal.
Before making an Amazon purchase, be sure to check out our Complete Guide To Saving Money On Amazon (Save 8% – 25%+) to refresh yourself on the best ways to save and any current promotions.