Apple wants you to know that, as it has done for several years now, the company will donate $10 to the National Park Foundation for every purchase made using Apple Pay from an Apple location (Apple Store, Apple Store app, or Apple.com).
There are a few catches, and the move deserves more than a little skepticism.
First, purchases must be made between now and August 27, and only from the United States. That makes sense; this is the time of year when we celebrate the National Parks and the National Park Foundation is a U.S. institution.
Second, you have to buy from Apple, not just buy an Apple product from a retailer like Best Buy. App Store purchases are not included.
Third, you must use Apple Pay. This is a promotion to get people to feel good about using Apple Pay, after all.
Finally, the donation is capped at $1 million, just as it has been for the last few years. In other words, the first 100,000 people to buy something from Apple using Apple Pay this week will result in $10 being donated to the National Park Foundation.
Let’s put that last point in perspective. There are 272 Apple Store locations in the U.S. Only 52 sales per store (using Apple Pay) per day is necessary to reach the $1 million maximum, and that doesn’t take into account the massive number of sales from the website or Apple Store app. In other words, Apple is all but guaranteed to reach enough sales to reach the $1 million donation maximum.
There’s also the matter of how little money this is to Apple. Apple holds $28 billion in “cash or cash equivalents” and another $34 billion in “marketable securities.” The $1 million donation is 0.0016 percent of the cash Apple has lying around, let alone the tens of billions in revenue it makes every quarter.
If Apple really wanted to help the National Park Foundation, it could donate ten times as much without any caveats or strings and it wouldn’t even make a slight impact on the balance sheet.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has gone on the record several times saying he believes the National Parks are a treasure and “well worth protecting.” We agree, and think they deserve a more significant donation from the world’s richest company without a crass marketing ploy attached.