Amazon is donating hundreds of thousands of needed items such as socks, blankets and canned food to hundreds of U.S. charities that created wish lists on the company’s site, and giving five organizations working on homelessness a total of $1 million in cash and donations.
It said Tuesday the giving program is based on the AmazonSmile Charity Lists that the company introduced a year ago, allowing verified nonprofits to make wish lists of needed items that Amazon customers can order. Another program running since 2013 channels 0.5% of the price of items purchased on the site to a customer’s chosen nonprofit.
This year Amazon said it is donating large quantities of items itself. The company would not disclose the value of the donations, nor provide a full list of recipients.
Some example nonprofits include the Mona Bailey Academy serving underprivileged elementary students in the Seattle area; Project Hospitality, which operates a homeless shelter on Staten Island, New York; and Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.
Amazon, expected to post more than $10.3 billion in profit this year, has previously faced criticism for its level of charitable giving. It has ramped up its contributions in recent years, including to Seattle-area family homelessness nonprofit Mary’s Place, which will open a state-of-the-art shelter inside a new company building next year, and to nonprofit food-careers training program FareStart, which has recently been promoted through advertising on Amazon corporate shuttle buses.
Also this year, the company is matching up to $5 million in donations made by its employees to organizations focused on homelessness in and around Seattle and Arlington, Virginia, where it is building a second headquarters. Crosstown competitor Microsoft has long matched employee giving and volunteer time.
An estimated 65% of companies in the Fortune 500 have some kind of employee gift matching program, according to donation software provider Double the Donation.
An earlier version of this story said five homelessness organizations would receive $1 million each.