Jan 25, 2023 - News

Richmond nonprofits lose AmazonSmile, but Kroger is already helping

Illustration of a frowny face with an upside down Amazon arrow as the mouth.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

More than 150 Richmond-area nonprofits will lose a source of funding when Amazon ends its AmazonSmile program next month.

Why it matters: Local nonprofits covering everything from animal welfare to education and health care rely on funding from myriad sources, and even small amounts help.

What's happening: Amazon announced last week that after 10 years, it will end its nonprofit donation program by Feb. 20.

  • The online retailer said in an email to customers that with more than 1 million organizations eligible for funding, its "ability to have an impact was often spread too thin."

How it worked: The program directed 0.5% of sales on certain purchases to customers' selected nonprofit.

  • 181 Richmond-based nonprofits were registered with AmazonSmile.

What they're saying: Even if the donation amount was small, "it’s always challenging anytime a nonprofit loses a funding source," Mary-Michael Wachur, director of communications for Virginia War Memorial Foundation, tells Axios.

Zoom in: Donations amount varied: Feed More saw more than $15,000 from the program over 10 years, and Richmond SPCA came to depend on $1,700 to $2,200 a quarter, they tell Axios.

  • Some arts and culture nonprofits, like Virginia Repertory Theatre and Virginia War Memorial Foundation, saw $150 to $250 a year.

Zoom out: Overall, AmazonSmile directed more than $377 million to U.S. nonprofits since it launched in 2013, Axios' Nathan Bomey reports.

Yes, but: Some Richmond nonprofits were already seeing a bigger impact from a similar program run by Kroger.

  • The grocery chain's Community Rewards program launched the same year as AmazonSmile and works about the same way.

More than 400 Richmond organizations are registered for Kroger Community Rewards. Nationally, the program gave more than $46 million to eligible nonprofits in 2021, they tell Axios.

"Those have always outpaced Amazon for us," bringing in about $5,000 a quarter for Richmond SPCA versus the $2,000 or less from AmazonSmile, Carol Anne Baker Lajoie, who leads the animal rescue's fundraising, tells Axios.

  • Virginia Rep tells Axios it also sees significantly more impact from the Kroger program.

Kroger customers and Richmond organizations can sign up at Kroger.com.


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