Linking Donations With Online Shopping: AmazonSmile Alternatives
Amazon’s recent announcement that they’re shutting down AmazonSmile — a program that gave 0.5% of qualifying purchases to charity over the last decade — generated a firestorm of angry consumer social media commentary.
Although I am critical of many aspects of AmazonSmile, I am fully in favor of efforts to link shopping to nonprofit donations. Over the years, numerous online shopping portals have emerged that make this connection. Unfortunately, it’s a tough business and their successes have been modest.
These firms are built on the standard operating practice of most ecommerce merchants to offer affiliate fees to sites that send them consumer traffic that results in sales. The shopping donation portals split that affiliate fee with the chosen charities of consumers who (depending on the their offering) either launch their shopping from the portal, install an extension, install an app or register their credit cards.
The problem inherent with this approach is that — compared with a colossus like Amazon — none of the donation portals have ever succeeded in attracting big consisten audiences. Hence the funds raised for charities — especially small ones — are relatively modest.
With that caveat, for anyone looking to link their shopping to charitable donations here is an overview of some of the players in the donation shopping portal field:
iGive — The oldest player in the field, iGive wasted no time in trying to capitalize on the impending demise of Amazon’s program by declaring on its home page: “R.I.P. AmazonSmile.” The company says it experienced a 600% increase in people signing up for its service in the hours after the retail giant’s announcement.
“In an effort to ease some of the financial burden charities are facing with the AmazonSmile shutdown, 2000+ retailers on iGive are offering at least double the donation rate than those found on AmazonSmile through March 31, 2023,” iGive.com announced in a press release. Normally iGive donations range from 0.6% to 26% and the company claims it has generated more than $10 million donations since it was established in 1997.
GoodShop indicates on its website that it has referral relationships with 3,000+ partner merchants and that these have generated $13 million+ in donations since 2005. GoodShop provides access to a portfolio of money-saving coupons to enable users to save money and drive donations to their favored charities.
Givebacks states on its website that it gives up to 1% of qualifying in-person (via a linked credit card) or online purchases to a consumer’s chosen charity after they install the Givebacks extension. In addition, shoppers earn a “cashback” percentage of their purchases which they can choose to keep or split with the charity.
Shopraise says consumers who download the Shopraise app or desktop extension can raise up to a 10% donation for their selected charity from more than 1,200 merchants. During a recent webinar entitled “The End Of Amazon Smile,” CEO Shaun Kulesza emphasized to listeners from nonprofit organizations that pop-ups generated by Shopraise are designed to reflect the branding of the shoppers’ chosen charities which should motivate nonprofit supporters.
Distinct from this portal approach, a number of companies (e.g. Daily Karma, Shopping Gives, Pledge) have gone into the business of providing the technology and guidance e-commerce sites needed to facilitate embedded giving or consumer donations in their own sales systems. But that will be the focus of a future post.