Amazon wants to make it easier for its millions of customers to donate to charitable causes. To assist with that effort, the online retailer has today launched AmazonSmile, a new shopping portal that allows users to automatically direct 0.5 percent from the purchase price of any eligible item towards a charity of their choosing. Using the new feature is fairly straightforward, but instead of visiting Amazon's regular home page, you'll need to navigate to smile.amazon.com. From there, you can choose from "millions" of charity organizations — with Amazon highlighting a few popular choices like the American Red Cross and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The actual Amazon shopping experience should be identical to what you're used to. Donations will be made on your behalf by the AmazonSmile Foundation, and there's no cap on the total amount that you can contribute.

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The retailer tells All Things D that "basically every physical product is eligible" for AmazonSmile, though there are exceptions. You can't donate any portion of digital content purchases, meaning Kindle ebooks and MP3s are out. And for the time being, Amazon is also excluding any items you order as part of its subscribe-and-save program. That's a bit disappointing, since it would be an easy way for customers to set up regular, repeating donations. But Ian McAllister, general manager of AmazonSmile, says that may change in the future. For now, replacing your Amazon bookmark with the charity URL is all it takes to send money to a good cause.