The year 2020 has brought about many changes and has affected the ways we shop. More customers than ever are choosing to buy their necessities online and through delivery services than ever before, and fewer are setting foot in brick-and-mortar stores.
That cultural change poses a problem for charitable organization that rely on donated supplies to support their operations. In normal times, non-profit organizations like schools and animal shelters were able to raise a good deal of their supplies via donation bins near store entrances or near checkout counters or by setting up tables or “Pack the Bus”-style campaigns in the parking lots of big stores like Walmart. Accepting donations right at the store served a dual purpose of reminding shoppers to pitch in for good causes in their communities and making it easy to just drop donations in the bin on their way out.
Of course, those means of accepting donations don’t work very well when shoppers aren’t visiting physical stores. And charities now have to bear the burden of putting extra effort into social media or other marketing to remind donors to contribute, instead of just keeping a presence at local stores with lots of foot traffic.
For such a time as this, Amazon has stepped up and introduced the Amazon Smile Charity Lists feature to help Amazon customers ship much needed supplies directly to local charities.
Amazon’s new Charity Lists streamlines an informal process that’s been in place for several years. In prior times, local charities often set up Wish Lists, just as you or I would as individual consumers, and supporters could access those Wish List links via social media or the charity’s website. Patrons would purchase items on the Wish List and enter the charity’s mailing address at checkout, just as if they were buying something for themselves or as a gift for someone else. It was a rather kludgy process, but it worked.
But just in time for the holidays, Amazon has now finally created a centralized feature for purchasing and shipping donations to charitable organizations. After you set up Amazon Smile under your Amazon account (which lets Amazon automatically donate 0.5% of all your purchases to the charity of your choice), you will have access to a new page called Charity Lists. This new page lets you search for charities by cause (Pets & Animals, Arts & Culture, Education & Youth, Environment, Faith & Spiritual, Health, International, Human Services, and Veteran) or by keyword.
When you click a category, you can browse through thousands of charitable organizations across the country that are in need of supplies like groceries, clothes, pet food, toys, and school supplies, all of which you can buy for them directly from Amazon. Some large organizations include multiple departments that each list their specific needs.
After you select a charity, you will see a grid of all the supplies that charity needs. Under each item, you can see how many are needed and how many have already been purchased (similar to a gift registry). You are able to simply click “Add to Cart” under the items you would like to buy for that organization. When you’re ready, you can click “Proceed to checkout” in the right-hand sidebar.
As mentioned above, before Charity Lists, buying items off Amazon to ship directly to a local charity meant you had to find and enter the charity’s delivery address on your own. But with Charity Lists, Amazon already has each registered charity’s mailing address in its system. In the first step of checkout, where Amazon sometimes asks you to confirm your shipping address, Amazon preselects the selected charity’s Registry Address. All you have to do is confirm your payment, and your charitable donation is on its way.
While you’re doing your Christmas shopping this December, and throughout the year, remember to help the good causes around you. With just a few bucks and a few clicks through Amazon Smile, you can help the groups in your community that are doing good things for those in need.