Trending: Amazon expands Bezos’ elite ‘S-team,’ adding 6 execs from emerging branches of the company

amazonsmileWhenever Amazon is criticized about its dearth of charitable giving, the company responds by saying that it will make its biggest impact on the world through its business activities — lowering prices, innovating online, getting people to read more books, etc.

But this morning Amazon put a new spin on that approach, launching a new initiative called Amazon Smile that will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charity of the buyer’s choice.

The company explains in a news release, “Customers who visit AmazonSmile (smile.amazon.com) will find the exact same Amazon they know and love. They’ll enjoy the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience – with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to their favorite charitable organization. There is no cap on the total donation amount and customers can choose from nearly one million organizations around the country.”

The donations will be made by the Amazon Smile Foundation, according to the company.

The charities are clearly excited, with quotes from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and charity:water in the news release. A cynic might say that this is classic Amazon, figuring out a way to encourage more online buying even through its philanthropic pursuits. In that way, the 0.5% donation is basically a marketing cost. But hey, it is going to charity, after all.

Amazon is offering more information here for charities that want to participate in the program.

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