Admit it. You’re an Amazon junkie. If not a junkie, at least an occasional user. Me, I’m a junkie. My kids know this and call on me and my Amazonian prowess anytime there’s something they absolutely positively have to have but have absolutely positively no time to look for it themselves.  I keep telling them that theirs is the computer generation, that mine is the generation that grew up when the latest and greatest in technology was a somewhat reliable transistor radio the size of four decks of cards. It does no good. To them I am the Amazon Queen, and they are my faithful subjects. Sometimes I wish I had a smaller kingdom, but that’s another story.

Since me and mine (pardon the grammar) are such good customers of Amazon, I was quite happy to discover something about the company that we collectively (but mainly I) send so much money to. In late 2013 Amazon launched a philanthropic program whereby customers can choose to donate  0.5% of their purchases to a charity of their choice. OK, you’re thinking half of a percent can’t possibly amount to much of anything. You’re right. It doesn’t–unless you look at the big picture. In 2012, Amazon made $62 billion. That’s $117,882 every minute or $9823 every five seconds. At one-half of one percent, that would have equated to a little over $4.91 in donations every five seconds–almost $85,000 a day or over $31 million a year–if the program had been in effect that year. The next year, in 2014, Amazon made $89 billion. My English teacher brain doesn’t want to (or can’t) figure out how much that upped the per minute/per five second ante, but I bet it was a bunch. So, you see 0.5% really is a big deal.

I can hear the cynics out there:

  • It’s a write-off for Amazon. Maybe, but does that really matter to the kid that goes to bed hungry or doesn’t go to school because she doesn’t have clothes to wear?
  • Ultimately, It’s bad for the charities because people will quit donating since they’ve already donated through Amazon. Hmmm, a $25 purchase equals a twelve-and-a-half cent donation. I’m not going to stop writing checks to my favorite charities because Amazon has taken my money and donated half a quarter of it to my charity.
  • Amazon jacks the price up when you do the Smile thing. Umm, no. That’s probably illegal.
  • None of the stuff I buy counts anyway. Maybe some of it doesn’t; it’s doubtful that none of it does.
  • My little orders aren’t enough to worry about. See paragraph two.
  • They don’t support my charity. If your charity isn’t one of the five spotlighted organizations, which I think change periodically, type it in. Chances are, it will come up, and if not, Amazon will contact the charity about being included.
  • I don’t want to support the same charity all the time. You can change your charity with every order. I currently rotate Friends of the Oglala Lakota, Samaritan’s Purse, and charity: water.
  • It’s too much trouble. All it takes is six extra keystrokes. Instead of amazon.com, type in smile.amazon.com. Try not to sprain your fingers.

I’ve either convinced you or I haven’t, but like I said, you’re gonna spend the money anyway. What do you say? You gonna smile along with me?