SWFL nonprofits expect to be impacted by the end of the AmazonSmile program

Reporter: Emma Heaton Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

A donation program that sent thousands of dollars to Southwest Florida charities over the course of a decade is ending.

AmazonSmile allows shoppers to pick an organization they want to send money to by making eligible purchases.

The people who work in nonprofits have not one but two missions. The first is to help people. The second is to raise money to help people. For years, Amazon Smile helped.

“When we realized that this was an opportunity for us to get some much-needed funds, we decided to really promote it a lot,” said Liz McCauley, executive director of the Cape Coral Animal Shelter.

Cape Coral Animal Shelter. (Credit: WINK News)

McCauley wasted no time in partnering up with Amazon after she heard about the smile program.

Since Smile’s establishment in 2013, more than $400 million have been donated to nonprofits nationwide. Thousands went to the Cape Coral Animal Shelter.

When McCauley learned that AmazonSmile was ending, she was shocked but determined to cover the loss and still provide care to so many dogs and cats.

(Credit: Rescue Animals in Need)

For Erin Helfert, who runs the much smaller nonprofit, RAIN, or Rescue Animals in Need, that may not be the case. “I think we can probably get past it, but it’s really going to hurt.”

Helfert said Smile donations made a world of a difference for the animals in her care, including money for a new crate, surgery for a cat, and relief from fundraising.

In March, it’ll all be gone.

Amazon said in a statement that the company “will pursue and invest in other areas where it has seen it can make meaningful change.” You can read Amazon’s full statement about the end of the program by clicking here.

For Helfert, every dollar and every donation was meaningful. “This was kind of like a lifeline to a lot of their smaller charitable organizations, and it’s gonna hurt a lot of people, so it just kind of makes me sad. I wish they saw the impact that it was having, and I don’t think they do.”

The CEO of St. Matthews House sent WINK News a statement saying, “Like many community focused nonprofit organizations, we are disappointed that Amazon is discontinuing the Amazon Smile program. We are eager to see if the Smile program is replaced by a new strategic alternative, or if they are truly reducing their community-support efforts.”

The Harry Chapin Food Bank also provided WINK News with a statement on the ending of the AmazonSmile program: “Since 2013 the AmazonSmile program has helped Harry Chapin Food Bank raise $13,243 for our programs and services. We are grateful for the support we received from this program and for the support of our community who participated,” said Ryan Uhler, Marketing and Communications Director, Harry Chapin Food Bank. “We understand that this news may be disappointing for our supporters who have used AmazonSmile to make a gift to our organization, but we want to assure you that our mission to lead our community in the fight to end hunger continues, and there are still many ways to support our work.”

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