Tips for Donating to Charities through an Amazon Wish List

By Elizabeth Buie | 03/05/2020

In these days of the novel Coronavirus pandemic, when the vast majority of UK residents are helping out by staying at home, healthcare workers are risking their lives to care for COVID-19 patients despite inadequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE). Beyond clapping from our windows and doorways on Thursdays at 8pm, many UK residents want to support these committed people in more useful ways as well. Some are using Amazon wishlists that healthcare charities have created to list items they need and that members of the public can purchase for direct delivery to the charity.

During the pandemic, we at Sigma are compiling practical ways of helping people build their digital experience, skills, and confidence. We have already assembled some tips and tools to help people make their online communications more effective, from social media posts to captions and subtitles. This week we are focusing on giving, for those who are able and would like to use online services to support a charity or health service right now, and who might not be familiar with the options or the process. This post guides you through donating to charities via an Amazon wishlist. With it we hope to help you navigate the process so that you can make donations to your chosen charity smoothly and with minimal confusion and snags.

Going through the process

Step 1. Sign in to Amazon

Start by signing into your Amazon account. You’ll eventually have to sign in anyway, before you can complete your purchase, and the process is simpler and smoother if you’re signed in when you start looking at the wishlist.

The rest of this guide assumes you’re signed in.

Step 2. Bring up your chosen charity's wishlist

In this article I’m using the example of the COVID-19 appeal put out by the Royal Papworth Hospital, a cardio-thoracic hospital in Cambridge, where I live. Papworth’s Amazon wishlist includes 29 products as of this writing — mostly food, drink and personal care items such as face and hand creams. These products can make healthcare professionals’ lives a little bit easier during their long hours caring for us and for our loved ones.

Screenshot of the Royal Papworth Hospital's Covid-19 Appeal Amazon Wish List

Caption: The first screenful of the Royal Papworth Hospital COVID-19 Appeal’s wish list.

For each product, the wish list shows the number of items the hospital have indicated they need and the number they’ve already received (as highlighted by the red box in the image). This can help you direct your donation to where it’s most needed.

(Tip: Ignore the speech bubble to the left of the “Needs” number; it doesn’t do anything.)

Partial screenshot showing how the wish list indicates how many of an item the charity need and how many they have

Caption: An entry in the wish list for a single product

Step 3. Find a product to donate

Scan the wish list for a product you’d like to donate. For this example I’m using Kabuto Noodles Chicken Pho, because the hospital has received only one of the 200 packs they need and I want to start where the need is great.

Partial screenshot showing that the charity needs 200 of the item and has only one

Caption: Kabuto Noodles Chicken Pho — the charity needs 200 and has only one

You’ll notice that after the “Add to Basket” button sits a link labelled “Buying this gift elsewhere?” We’re buying from Amazon, so we’re going to ignore that.

Step 4. Add the product to your basket

Click “Add to Basket”. Feedback appears to let you know that the product has been added to your basket. The button’s label changes to “Proceed to checkout”, and a second button, “View Shopping Basket”, appears underneath it. (Do not proceed to checkout just yet.)

Partial screenshot showing feedback that the Chicken Pho has been added to the basket

Caption: “✓ Added to Basket” feedback

Note that adding this item to the basket does not increase the number that Amazon says the charity “has”. That’s because you haven’t actually bought it yet.

Diversion 4a. Add another product to your basket (optional)

If you want to donate more than one type of product to your charity, find a second product and add it to your basket. The wish list will now show the “✓  Added to Basket” feedback for both products.

Partial screenshot showing two products added to your basket

Caption: Multiple products added to basket from the wish list

This step was just a digression to show how it works. The rest of this guide proceeds without the second product.

Step 5. View your Basket

Instead of clicking “Proceed to checkout” at this point, it’s best to view your shopping basket first. Not only will that let you make sure you know exactly what products you’ve selected to give this charity, it will also enable you to give more than one of a product. Although Amazon’s normal buying process lets you increase the quantity before you click “Add to Basket”, when you buy from a wish list you have to do it from your shopping basket. It’s a bit of a pain, but that’s how it works.

Here’s what the wish list shopping basket looks like. It says the product is for “Papworth Charity’s Wish List”, and the checkbox for “This will be a gift” is already ticked. It shows a quantity of 1 pack of chicken pho.

Partial screenshot showing one pack of Chicken Pho in the shopping basket

Caption: The shopping basket shows that one item of Chicken Pho has been selected for purchase, at a price of £12.00

Diversion 5a: Add more of the product

It’s easy to give more than one of this product — just select the desired number from the “Qty: 1” drop-down. In this example we’ve increased the quantity to 2, and the shopping basket shows both the larger quantity of the product and the increased subtotal of the cost.

Partial screenshot showing two of this item in the shopping backet

Caption: The shopping basket shows that two of the Chicken Pho are selected for purchase, at a price of £24.00

Step 6: Choose the charity’s delivery address

Now your shopping basket shows that you have selected two items, for a subtotal of £24, and you're ready to check out.

Click the "Proceed to Checkout" button.

Partial screenshot showing two items in basket and a "Proceed to Checkout" button

Caption: Proceed to Checkout button

In addition to the address (or addresses) you usually use, Amazon offers the option to have your donation shipped to the gift registry address, as the next image shows. Make sure you choose that address.

Partial screenshot showing your most recently used delivery address and the charity's address

Caption: Two addresses showing, with the charity's gift registry address selected

Step 7. Choose gift options

Before you pay and confirm the order, you can add a note to the gift. In this time when healthcare workers are under a tremendous amount of stress, this can add a nice touch.

Screenshot of the shopping basket with notes added to the gift options

Caption: The shopping basket shows the gift notes added to the items

After you've entered your notes, click "Save gift options and continue".

Step 8. Complete your purchase

Go through the payment options and delivery selections as you normally would for an Amazon purchase. Your order has now been placed, and you will receive the usual email confirming it. Although Amazon are delaying orders of non-essential items during the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems that wishlist gifts to healthcare charities are considered essential, and you are likely to see the order scheduled for delivery very soon, perhaps even the next day.

Partial screenshot showing "Thank you, your order has been placed." and the order details

Caption: Feedback confirms that your order has been placed and gives details of the order

Step 9. Verify that the wish list shows your donation (optional)

Fairly soon — maybe even within a few minutes — Amazon will email you to say that your order has been dispatched. At this point, if you reload the wishlist you will see that the items you’ve donated appear in the number of items that the charity “has”.

Partial screenshot showing that your two items have been added to the number it "has"

Caption: Now that you've completed checkout, the wishlist shows that your charity "has" the items you bought for it

Step 10. Celebrate — You're done!

Finding an Amazon wish list for a healthcare charity

Now, you probably live somewhere other than Cambridge and would rather donate items to a healthcare charity closer to you. Unfortunately, Amazon no longer make wish lists public (except for wedding and baby registries), so you can’t find a charity’s wish list by searching Amazon. But some intensive googling turned up a small number of healthcare charity websites that include links to their Amazon wish lists. Here are ten of them, arranged in rough geographical order:

I hope that by explaining the process, this article has made it easier for you to donate items online to the NHS front-line staff we all appreciate so much. When you use a wish list, you can be confident you're giving someone things they need.