Amazon a No-show in Giving Back

Amazon a virtual no-show in hometown philanthropy

The world’s biggest online retailer is a minor player — at best — in local charitable giving.

By Amy Martinez and Kristi Heim – Seattle Times business reporters

Last year, amid a troubled economy, United Way of King County said it received record donations from some of the area’s largest companies. Microsoft made a corporate donation of $4 million. Boeing gave $3.1 million. Nordstrom, nearly $320,000. And Amazon.com? Zero.

Conceived on Wall Street, born in a Bellevue rental house, and based in a dozen buildings on the northern edge of downtown Seattle, Amazon has grown into one of the Internet’s most-recognized name brands and a company so big that it holds staff meetings at KeyArena.

Its value in the stock market alone puts it ahead of Boeing and second only to Microsoft in the Northwest. But as Amazon prepares to turn 18 this summer, it cuts an astoundingly low profile in the civic life of its hometown.

It’s a minor player in local charitable giving. Some nonprofit officials say it can be difficult to find someone at Amazon to even talk with them. Other business leaders say they’re hard-pressed to name examples of Amazon playing a significant role on broader public issues.

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