Amazon announced Jan. 18 that it is replacing its AmazonSmile program, which allowed its customers to support preferred charitable organizations through their online purchases, with a more corporate-driven philanthropic strategy.
Created in 2013, the AmazonSmile website has offered the same products, prices and shopping features as Amazon.com. But when customers shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to whatever charitable organization the customer chooses.
Amazon stated in its corporate press release and email to customers: “With so many eligible organizations—more than 1 million globally—our ability to have an impact was often spread too thin. We are writing to let you know that we plan to wind down AmazonSmile by February 20, 2023. We will continue to pursue and invest in other areas where we’ve seen we can make meaningful change—from building affordable housing to providing access to computer science education for students in underserved communities to using our logistics infrastructure and technology to assist broad communities impacted by natural disasters.”
Over the past decade, the AmazonSmile program has not been without controversy. Its approved charitable organizations have been based on recommendations from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a far-left advocacy organization that has been mired in scandal in recent years.
Some of the organizations banned from receiving charitable donations through the AmazonSmile program are Alliance Defending Freedom, American Family Association, Family Research Council, Liberty Counsel, Probe Ministries and Mission: America. SPLC designated these non-profit organizations as “hate groups” because of their Biblical beliefs on marriage and gender.
Despite allegations of racial and gender discrimination and widespread sexual harassment, the SPLC has continued to receive support from Amazon shareholders as they have repeatedly stood by the left-wing activist group during its annual shareholders meetings.
Scott Shepard, a fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research as well as the director of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project, has submitted multiple resolutions that would have curbed the SPLC’s power to decide what charities customers could contribute to via purchases made through AmazonSmile, but those proposals were quickly defeated by fellow Amazon shareholders.
“Amazon was more committed to actual discrimination than to claims about respecting all stakeholders,” Shepard told Decision. “This violates directors’ and executives’ fiduciary duties to run their companies and take political stands and make donations with shareholder money on the basis of their personal policy preferences.”
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