- Amazon celebrated Giving Tuesday on Nov. 27 by letting Alexa owners donate to Toys for Tots via its voice-powered digital assistant, according to an announcement. The campaign marks the first time that users can donate items to charity directly through Alexa.
- When people say, "Alexa, donate to Toys for Tots," Alexa responds with a description of an approved item to buy from the charity's gift list, which includes Mickey and Minnie plush toys, Nerf footballs and Monopoly board games. After a customer confirms the tax-deductible purchase, Amazon sends it directly to Toys for Tots.
- Also for the first time, customers can shop Amazon's "charity lists" and donate an item to their favorite nonprofit. Giving Tuesday is a charitable movement started in 2012 as a response to the consumerism of the holiday season.
By creating an Alexa skill that simplifies purchasing and donating to Toys for Tots, Amazon has made it easier for customers to participate in the Giving Tuesday movement. The ability to complete the entire transaction, from toy selection to purchase to shipping, directly through Alexa reduces the friction in giving to charities like Toys for Tots, which could lead to more donations overall.
The new donation initiatives expand upon the e-commerce giant's AmazonSmile program that gives money to charity as customers shop, and the preexisting ability to donate money to charity through Alexa. Amazon's charitable efforts may help to blunt criticism of the company for luring customers away from smaller businesses, a complaint that also has been leveled at archrival Walmart. Amazon this year was also at the center of a controversy over how much it will receive in tax breaks and grants to build two new headquarters in New York and Virginia.
Amazon isn't alone in sponsoring Giving Tuesday events. Facebook partnered with payment processor PayPal to match as much as $7 million in gifts on Giving Tuesday to U.S.-based nonprofits. The social network also hosted a #GivingTuesday event on its Facebook page to share updates and fundraiser stories. T-Mobile, Citi, United Airlines and Pizza Hut also hosted charity events for the annual charitable holiday, Fortune reported.
Giving Tuesday was forecast to raise around $363 million this year, according to Whole Whale, a social impact-focused digital agency in New York. The agency based its estimate on Google Search terms for #GivingTuesday and national trends, according to the Nonprofit Times. Charitable groups last year boosted online donations on Giving Tuesday to $301 million, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. GiveCampus, a charity that helps 600 schools and colleges raise money online, this year is monitoring how many donors contribute on mobile devices and use Apple Pay, Kestrel Linder, CEO and co-founder of GiveCampus, said.