Why it matters: If ever there was a company that could use some good PR, it’s Amazon. The retail giant doesn’t have the best reputation for being ethical, or treating its workers well, or embracing unions, but it has given a lot to charity—over $100 million across the last five years, in fact. All thanks to its AmazonSmile program.
It was almost exactly five years ago when AmazonSmile debuted. The separate shopping portal, which is available to those in the US, UK, and Germany, lets users purchase most of the items available on the standard Amazon site. The main difference being that Amazon donates 0.5 percent of the price to a charity of the buyer’s choosing. Customers can pick from over one million charities, “from local and national humanitarian organizations to schools, hospitals, cultural organizations, pet shelters, and many more.”
To celebrate hitting the $100 million milestone, Amazon is increasing its donation rate to 5 percent—ten times the usual amount—on eligible products from now up until November 2.
“Hundreds of thousands of charities have been able to expand their meaningful work thanks to the donations they’ve received through AmazonSmile, and we want to say thank you to customers who are supporting important causes every time they shop,” said
Amazon, of course, has long been known for its allegedly toxic work environment. CEO Jeff Bezos was forced to defend his firm after a damning New York Times piece in 2015, which painted a picture of a company that employs cruel management practices and shows little empathy for staff with health and family problems.
A 2016 suicide attempt by an employee reportedly placed on Amazon’s notorious Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) put the company under the spotlight, while working conditions at its warehouses were said to be causing "mental and physical illness" in some cases.
This year has seen Amazon try to improve the public’s perception of the firm. Jeff Bezos recently announced a $2 billion fund to build preschools and help homeless families, and the company raised its minimum wage to $15 for all employees.