Amazon axes its charity donation program

By Jordan Valinsky, CNN

New York CNN  —  Amazon is shutting down its “Smile” charity donation program as the company cuts costs and rethinks its strategy.

The Smile initiative will shut down by February 20, Amazon said in a statement Wednesday, explaining the “program has not grown to create the impact that we had originally hoped.”

Amazon Smile donated a small percentage of sales made on eligible purchases to a charity that shoppers chose. In total, $500 million has been donated since its 2013 launch, with an average donation of less than $230 per charity, the company said.

“With so many eligible organizations — more than 1 million globally — our ability to have an impact was often spread too thin,” Amazon (AMZN) added. Charities enrolled in the program will get a one-time donation “equivalent to three months of what they earned in 2022,” Amazon (AMZN) said, noting that charities will still be able to accrue donations until the program closes.

The company isn’t completely shying away from donations, however. Amazon said it will continue to “pursue and invest in other areas where we’ve seen we can make meaningful change,” including charities that help with natural disaster relief and affordable housing.

Amazon recently announced it would lay off roughly 18,000 employees. Several teams were affected, including the human resources department and Amazon Stores, according to a memo from CEO Andy Jassy shared with employees earlier this month.

Amazon and other tech firms significantly ramped up hiring over the past couple of years as the pandemic shifted consumers’ habits toward e-commerce.

Now, many of these seemingly untouchable tech companies are experiencing whiplash and laying off thousands of workers as consumers return to pre-pandemic habits and macroeconomic conditions deteriorate.

Jassy, in his memo, said Amazon’s executives recently met to determine how to slim down the company and prioritize “what matters most to customers and the long-term health of our businesses.”

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