The Seattle-based retailer today announced a corporate philanthropy program called AmazonSmile, which allows Amazon shoppers to direct 0.5 percent of their purchase totals at the e-commerce giant toward a charitable organization of their choice. Amazon will then donate the money on behalf of its customers.
Speaking as maybe the first reporter in the world to ever write about Amazon's lack of charitable giving, this is great news, and I applaud Amazon for finally doing something like this. But I'd also like to point out that this doesn't let Amazon off the hook for their stinginess with regards to corporate giving to Seattle-area arts programs—while they've since started giving a few tens of thousands of dollars annually to nonprofits including The Stranger's Genius Awards, Amazon is still dwarfed by Microsoft, Boeing, and other local businesses. And as far as I know they still don't have a charitable matching program for their employees, either. I don't say this to diminish the Amazon Smile program, which will raise a lot of money for a lot of good causes. I just hope that this is a great first step in what I hope will be a long journey to corporate responsibility.