AUSTIN (KXAN) — Charitable organizations in Austin were notified Thursday that money coming from Amazon’s decade-long charity program, AmazonSmile, will be cut off after the next few months.
The program — in place since 2013 — allowed shoppers to pick a charitable organization which would benefit from 0.5% of their purchase on many items, donated by Amazon. According to AmazonSmile’s website, over one million charities worldwide have benefited from the program.
But Amazon wrote in a statement this week that because there were so many eligible organizations, they felt their ability to “have an impact was often spread too thin.”
“It’s a bummer that AmazonSmile is going away. The affordable housing crisis in Austin isn’t going away,” Andrew Donilon, director of development for Austin Habitat for Humanity, said.
The money the local Habitat for Humanity received from the program went to its affordable homeownership program, the director of development said.
A spokesperson told Nexstar charities overall have received $500 million with the average annual donation being less than $230. Austin Habitat for Humanity said they were seeing roughly $1,000 a year.
“We will continue to pursue and invest in other areas where we’ve seen we can make meaningful change — from building affordable housing to providing access to computer science education for students in underserved communities to using our logistics infrastructure and technology to assist broad communities impacted by natural disasters,” the company said.
The charities that have worked with AmazonSmile will receive a one-time donation worth three months of what they received last year, Amazon explained.
Donilon said while $1,000 may seem relatively small, Amazon does support Habitat for Humanity in other ways. He said he hopes that support isn’t also on the chopping block.
“We hope that Amazon will continue to support Austin Habitat through things like house sponsorships, coming out and building on-site, and also Amazon is a big supporter of our ReStore. They donate products that have been returned that they can no longer sell,” he said.
Habitat for Humanity isn’t the only local organization that will be impacted: Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Central Texas, Austin Pets Alive!, Austin Wildlife Rescue and Shalom Austin are also listed on AmazonSmile’s website as organizations approved for donations.
“We were using them mostly as just general budget support. But for us, it was a tool to get people involved, ” Eloise Hudson, communications manager for CASA of Central Texas, said.
CASA of Central Texas said they had received roughly $2,000, and they are confident their supporters will help fill in the gap. Still, they ask people to spread the word about CASA and hope interested people will sign up to volunteer.
The money from AmazonSmile went toward things like training volunteers — which is a six-week process — and screening applicants.
According to that website, there are hundreds of charitable organizations in Austin that were eligible for AmazonSmile donations.