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Champaign non-profits losing donations amid Amazon Smile discontinuing

CHAMPAIGN, Ill., (WCIA) — Some non-profit organizations are going to be losing donations. It comes after Amazon Smile announces they’re discontinuing their program.

It’s a section of the website you could shop in, with some of the proceeds going back to a charity of your choice.

Two groups in Champaign, Habitat for Humanity and the Champaign County Healthcare Consumers, both said they’re going to lose money. But, they’re not too worried yet.

The groups’ leaders are grateful for Amazon’s efforts, but normally get more money from grants and donations. Now, they’re focusing on those two things even more.

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“It seemed surprising. You never want to think that an organization like Amazon decides to cut off this kind of funding that they were giving all these non-profits,” Lauren Gramly, Habitat’s Director of Development, said.

She got an email from Amazon just a few weeks ago. In that email, they said the program hasn’t grown to create the impact they hoped.

The Smile section of Amazon is dedicated to buying items and putting money back into the community.

Gramly said it was a quick turnaround. She knows Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County has been involved with Smile for years, but never got a lot of money through it.

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Claudia Lennhoff, the Executive Director with Champaign County Healthcare Consumers said it was similar for them.

“We get about $80 per quarter, which comes out to just under $400 a year,” Lennhoff said.

But she knows that still makes a big difference. They’d use that money for smaller things such as supplies, postage and printing.

Now, both groups are pivoting.

“You never want to put all your eggs in one basket,” Gramly said. “You want to make sure that you are looking for all funding opportunities that are available. That’s one of the biggest things that non-profits have to do.”

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For her, that includes applying for more grants, as well as looking for more sponsorships and donations. That way, they can stay focused on their goal — helping put a roof over peoples’ heads.

“We build affordable housing here in the community with local families who aren’t able to buy a home with traditional means,” Gramly said.

Lennhoff can concentrate on helping people sign up for health insurance and pay for prescriptions.

“We’ll just continue to figure out different ways to get our message out,” Lennhoff said. “Let people know that we provide free services to the entire Champaign County community.”

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Instead of the Smile program, Amazon said they’re going to be investing in other areas where they’ve seen meaningful change. Lennhoff and Gramly both said they were disappointed, and feel it’s unnecessary.

In the email Amazon sent to Smile customers, they said they’ll give participating charities a one-time donation based on what they earned through the program last year.

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