Amazon is making it easier for smart home users to give back and do good with their new Alexa Donations feature. Though Amazon is not new to the charitable cause game, the ability to make these transactions through voice activation is new and made possible by new smart home technology.
Alexa is the Amazon smart assistant, first introduced in their smart home speaker, the Echo. Since the Echo’s release and popularity, Alexa has been added to other Amazon products, like their Fire tablets and Fire TV, as well as partner devices. Alexa is “always listening” and responds when prompted with a wake word.
The AmazonSmile program has been around for years, and allows Amazon shoppers to easily and automatically support a charitable organization of their choosing. The program is of no cost to shoppers, and instead the donation comes by way of Amazon applying a portion of your purchase cost to the charity you have selected for your account.
The new Alexa Donations features is a bit different then the AmazonSmile program that shoppers might be more accustomed to. For starters, it is not something that Amazon covers; it is a direct donation that comes out of your account. To set up payment methods, you need to activate Amazon Pay. The Amazon Pay service is similar to Apple Pay; it allows you to store and use payment methods that are active in your Amazon account to purchase things from third-party vendors. Amazon Pay is a free service, and payment information is not shared with the third-party vendors that you purchase from.
The launch of Alexa Donations, in conjunction with Amazon Pay, helps people connect with their favorite charities in a convenient, secure, and simple way. If you have a friend that has requested that donations be made in their honor for their birthday, you can use Alexa Donations to make it happen. This seamless experience is available on any device that supports Alexa.
To use this feature you do not need to activate any “skills” on your device; you simply have to give a command such as: Alexa, donate [dollar amount] to [charity name]. Alternately, you can ask Alexa to help you choose a charity by simply saying “Alexa, make a donation.” In this instance, you’ll be prompted to pick a charity and a dollar amount. Once your donation is complete, you’ll receive a receipt in the Alexa app and in the email that you have on file.
The list of charities you can donate to is still small, but growing. Currently there are about 60 charities available, including some of the world’s biggest, like the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross, Feeding America, Doctors Without Borders, and the March of Dimes Foundation. Don’t worry, there are smaller, more localized charities included as well, so no needs to feel left out.
Donations can range in total from $5 to $5,000. Alexa Donations is easy to use, but does require confirmation so that you don’t accidentally send the wrong amount.