Big changes for small nonprofits


Each quarter since 2013, I have received the following notice from Amazon….

“This is the quarterly notification to inform you that AmazonSmile has made a charitable donation to the charity you’ve selected, Southern Poverty Law Center, Inc., in the amount of $15,063.91 as a result of qualifying purchases made by you and other customers between April 1st - June 30th. Thanks to customers shopping at or using the Amazon app with AmazonSmile turned ON, everyday purchases make an impact.

So far, AmazonSmile has donated:

  • $299,591.59to Southern Poverty Law Center, Inc.*
  • Over $377 millionto US charities
  • Over $422 millionto charities worldwide

This type of donation, called “shop for a cause” or “donate with purchase,” is becoming more common with nonprofits as it allows individuals to donate to their favorite nonprofits while making some of their everyday purchases. Many of our local grocery stores participate in such a program, as does Tom’s shoes and Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, to name just a few. (Click here for a longer list of participating companies) Amazon’s Smile program was one of the most successful. However, Amazon is ending its charity donation program as of Monday, February 20. According to Amazon, through the program, Amazon donated 0.5% of eligible purchases to a charity of the shopper's choice. The program has donated over $400 million to U.S. charities and more than $449 million globally. In 2022, AmazonSmile's average donation per charity was $230 in the U.S.

However, nonprofits only learned of the demise of this program this month and so have not had a chance to plan a way to recoup the expected loss in donations. Many nonprofits, especially some smaller organizations, were counting on those donations to meet their budget needs for the year. Amazon indicated that it is making this decision due to unexpected losses; however, the real losers are the nonprofits and those they serve.

More Changes for Nonprofits

Employers in Washington state could soon be required to pay interns under a new bill proposed in the Legislature. The Senate Labor and Commerce Committee held a public hearing for Senate Bill 5327, legislation sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines. The legislation would require state and local government agencies, as well as educational, charitable, and nonprofit organizations that get funding from the public, to pay interns the state minimum wage. Keiser said she proposed the legislation to make internships more equitable and accessible for those who cannot afford to take unpaid positions to pursue their dreams and advance in their professions. While I certainly am in favor of paying everyone a living wage and wholeheartedly believe in the value of internships, this bill may not have the positive impact that Keiser envisions. I am wondering if there will be fewer internships available as a result of the increase in wages. We will need to stay tuned to find out.

Let’s Fix Some Windows!

As we enjoyed the holiday lights in downtown Olympia, we noticed there have been quite several broken windows. The Olympia Downtown Alliance is responding to this by re-launching its broken window fund to assist downtown businesses and property owners in replacing the windows. While the organizations supported by this program may not be nonprofits, the Olympia Downtown Alliance is a nonprofit and aligns with its mission to "Serve as a catalyst for downtown prosperity and positive perception while advocating for businesses and property owners." It also aligns with the Alliance's strategic priority of supporting a Vibrant, Clean, and Safe downtown. According to the Olympia Downtown Alliance:

100% of donated funds will go towards reimbursement of business or property owners who have had their windows broken. Funds will be assigned a separate accounting class and not co-mingled with other Downtown Alliance funds.

Eligible businesses include all downtown businesses and property owners. Membership in the Downtown Alliance is not a requirement to receive funds.

This program will be funded by donations. Should the fund be exhausted, the Downtown Alliance may not be able to reimburse businesses or property owners for broken windows.

Business/property owners may inquire about the program by emailing

From Black History Month to the Eye-2-Eye event this February

Tomorrow is the start of February, and in addition to being Black History Month and American Heart Month, it is also is the month that we celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17th

My columns this month will include ideas on how you might be able to perform random acts of kindness, but in the meantime, after a two-year hiatus, Eye-2-Eye, Interfaith Works’ biggest event of the year, returns on Saturday, February 11. Interfaith Works (IW) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit association of faith communities and individuals of diverse faith traditions. According to Interfaith Works, their organization partners with a diverse range of local agencies, including Thurston County, the City of Olympia, Capital Recovery Center and Community Action Council.

SideWalk, Catholic Community Resources, Low Income Housing Institute, the Emma Goldman Youth and Homeless Outreach Project (EGYHOP), Partners in Prevention Education (PiPE), Behavioral Health Resources, Providence Health Services, Valley View Primary Care, the Washington Clippers (providing compassionate foot care), Saint Martin’s University Nursing Program, University of Washington School of Social Work, Olympia Free Clinic and Mental Health Access Program, Northwest Resources Chemical Dependency, Family Support Center, Community Youth Services, Salvation Army, Union Gospel Mission, and more. Coordination is key to our guests’ success because navigating the complicated web of services often proves difficult. These meaningful and active partnerships provide a stronger safety net that helps prevent people in need from falling through the cracks.

Soliciting your ideas

If you know of a nonprofit that is doing something great, celebrating a success, needs some outstanding volunteers, or hosting an event, let me know! This column (aside from a little education) celebrates nonprofits!

Mary Beth Harrington, CVA (Certified Volunteer Administrator) lives in Tumwater. She travels the country speaking at conferences and to individual organizations articulating issues facing nonprofits. Send your ideas to her at


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