By Reid Goldsborough
Imagine buying what you need and want online and helping save the world at the same time? That's the premise behindAmazon Smile, a service by the Internet retail behemoth Amazon.
For every $100 you spend, Amazon will donate 50 cents to the participating nonprofit organization of your choice. What's more, it won't cost you anything more for what you buy. All you have to do is log onto Amazon Smile (www.smile.amazon.com) rather than Amazon (www.amazon.com).
Along with the same prices, with Amazon Smile you can obtain the same selection, shipping, and customer service as you do with Amazon. You can use your existing Amazon account on Amazon Smile. Your shopping cart, wish list, wedding registry, baby registry, and other account settings are the same.
To select a charitable organization to support when shopping on Amazon Smile, you simply select the organization on your first visit before you begin shopping. You'll receive an email confirmation of your choice, and Amazon Smile remembers your selection. You can change your charity of choice at any time by selecting "Change your Charity" in "Your Account."
Most but not all products purchased at Amazon Smile elicit donations. You can see which products do elicit donation before buying. They're the ones designated "Eligible for Amazon Smile donation" on their product detail page.
Amazon Smile launched in October 2013, and currently you can support any of nearly 1 million 501(c)(3) public charitable organizations this way.
One example of a participating charity is the MOAA Scholarship Fund, which provides educational assistance, including scholarships, grants, and interest-free loans, to the children of U.S. military families.
Nonprofit organizations not already registered with Amazon Smile can learn how to register at https://org.amazon.com.
Amazon Smile donates 0.5 percent of the purchase price of eligible products, minus any rebates and excluding shipping and handling as well as any gift-wrapping fees, taxes, or service charges. It periodically offers special promotions that increase the donation amount on some products.
Unlike with making a direct contribution to a charitable organization, you can't take tax deductions for the money that Amazon Smile donates. The donations themselves are made by the Amazon Smile Foundation.
After you make a purchase on Amazon Smile, the services gives you the option of automatically sharing what you did, including the name of both Amazon Smile and the charity of your choice, through Facebook, Twitter, or email. This can help spread the word so others can do the same. Amazon Smile also has a Facebook page.