By MARK WALKER
SEATTLE – Tens of millions of Americans can now contribute to the Red Cross directly through their Amazon Alexa virtual assistant.
Seattle-based Amazon worked with Red Cross officials to enable customers who want to donate money to the charity by simply asking Alexa. Donors also can direct precisely where their contribution should be spent, such as Hurricane Michael relief efforts.
Amazon is also working with Feeding America, Save the Children, and World Hope in ongoing hurricane relief, and offers the Alexa donation feature to dozens of other charities. (To make a donation, click here.)
Launched this spring, the newly minted Alexa Donations feature is one more way people can support the wide array of Red Cross disaster relief and assistance programs.
“This program has a ton of growth potential,” said Colin Peterson, Northwest Region senior division philanthropy officer. “We’re breaking new ground.”
Amazon spokeswoman Allison Flicker said adding the donation feature via Alexa is one more in a host of ways the online retailer supports the Red Cross. That list runs the gamut from truckloads of Amazon-donated foodstuffs to hardware to generators and the like, use of Amazon’s extensive distribution networks, and additional technological features like Amazon Pay and Amazon Wish Lists.
“We are proud to work alongside the Red Cross, Flicker said “They are a life-saving organization – they’re data-driven, resourceful, and innovative.
It works like this: say you’re in the kitchen listening to the news and learn of an ongoing disaster and you want to help. Simply say, “Alexa, donate to Hurricane Michael relief.” Alexa will send you information about the charity, ask you how much you’d like to donate and then, pending your confirmation (and PIN if needed), process the donation using the payment information associated with your Amazon account.
Hurricane Florence, which preceded Hurricane Michael, was the first instance in which Alexa Donations was enabled in a disaster relief effort. This season alone, Amazon has dispatched more than 30 truckloads of goods and more than 600,000 items to a variety of community partners involved in hurricane relief.
“We’re excited for our customers to use this new and convenient feature,” Flicker said. “We’ve been working closely with the Red Cross in recent years, and this is one more unique way we can partner.”
Gail McGovern, National Red Cross president and chief executive officer, recently said donations for disaster relief and all other efforts are vital.
“No gift is too small,” she told The Chronicle of Philanthropy. “We’ll put it to great use, and giving the gift of life and donating blood is really precious too.”