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How does the AmazonSmile program actually work?

It's difficult to think about life without Amazon. Though Amazon has only been around for a few decades, nearly one-third of all Americans have signed up for the company's Prime membership. The AmazonSmile Foundation is one way that Amazon is working to incorporate charitable giving into its streamlined and often inexpensive retail platform.

What exactly is AmazonSmile, and why should you consider making the switch to the Smile website instead of the regular Amazon site? We've outlined the non-profit organization and why you should consider signing up for Smile before making your next Amazon purchase:

What is AmazonSmile

The AmazonSmile Foundation is one of the best aspects of shopping at the online megastore, despite the criticism Amazon receives for its business practices and corporate culture. In exchange for your participation in the AmazonSmile program, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice.

0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases is donated to a non-profit of your choice through the AmazonSmile Foundation. At first glance, 0.5% may not seem like much, but when applied to Amazon's daily revenue of over $385 million, the total amount donated to charity can add up to a significant sum.

If you're an Amazon Prime member and a regular Amazon shopper, AmazonSmile is a great way to increase your contributions to charity without much additional effort on your part (or cost to your wallet).

The steps to join AmazonSmile

AmazonSmile has a simple sign-up process and requires no ongoing maintenance after the initial setup. The process is as simple as visiting and logging in with your regular Amazon credentials. Your next step will be to choose from among hundreds of deserving charities and causes. Just pick an issue you care about and go from there. However, there is one catch: you must complete your purchase on in order for Amazon to donate a portion of the purchase price.

There is no difference in the sign-up process for AmazonSmile between using the browser and the Amazon app. Simply navigate to AmazonSmile from the main menu. The AmazonSmile option can be activated after you select a charitable organization of your choosing. Once you've enabled the feature, all future in-app purchases will be Smile-eligible.

In what ways does AmazonSmile help those in need?

The AmazonSmile Foundation was created to be completely transparent to customers, making it simple for them to make a donation to their favorite charity whenever they make a purchase. Using instead of the regular Amazon website has no discernible effect on the user experience. For every qualified purchase you make, we'll donate 0.5% to the charity of your choice.

Even though you get to choose the charity and it's your purchases that count toward the donation, you can't claim a tax deduction for the money you give if it comes from the company.