Donating At Checkout Remains High Amidst Retail Slump
Ever been to a retail checkout counter and been asked to donate a dollar to a good cause? It appears that consumers like you continue to give—and give generously—even against the recent backdrop of store closings and precipitous sales decreases at many department stores, clothing retailers and big box chains.
Every other year we take a look at the largest of these campaigns—those raising over $1 million—to gleans trends and insights about how retail brands choose to partner with consumers to support good causes. We compile this data in a free report and infographic called America’s Charity Checkout Champions.
This time around, we found 73 such “charity checkout” campaigns that brought in $441.63 million in 2016, an increase of 4.5% over 2014 giving.
In total, these programs have raised more than $4.1 billion over three decades. While online retailers’ share of shopping dollars increase, our research has not found a corresponding increase in their development of checkout charity initiatives.
Point Of Sale Powerhouses
While brick-and-mortar still reigns supreme in point-of-sale fundraising, there is huge potential to partner with consumers for good causes online as evidenced by eBay for Charity, which has held the top spot on this list since it was first compiled in 2012. In 2016, the year-round program raised $56.5 million in the United States by allowing sellers to contribute a portion of their sales to charity and inviting buyers to make a voluntary donation to one of over 34,000 charities. The program was down by 9% from 2014 but 2016 totals brought the cumulative donation amount to a whopping $725 million since 2003.
The Miracle Balloon program at Sam’s Clubs and Walmart stores, number two on the list, retained its standing as the largest brick-and-mortar retail program. Over just seven weeks, the campaign raised $37 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in 2016, a 7.5% decrease from its 2014 total, by asking consumers to donate at checkout to help sick and injured children at their local children’s hospital. Since
1987, the partnership has raised $935 million for the network of children’s hospitals.
Petco earned the number three slot this year by raising $28.3 million, bumping the RMHC Coin Collection Program at McDonald’s down to number four by a margin of just $231,922. The pet retailer collects year-round donations at the register for its Petco Foundation, which funds animal welfare and adoption organizations and has raised $185 million since 1999. This year’s total represented a 21.7% increase over funds raised in 2014.
Focused as we are on programs that have raised $1 million+, this study does not capture all of the point-of-sale fundraising occurring in the United States. Tens of thousands of businesses from single location restaurants to major chains engage their customers and staff in such programs each year and there is no central repository for their data.
Best Buy Boosts Giving
The largest absolute dollar increase between 2014 and 2016 was $8.5 million post by Best Buy benefitting St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
When asked about this massive gain, Best Buy’s chief corporate responsibility and sustainability officer Laura Bishop said, “Our employees understand the life-saving work of St. Jude, so our teams have really been motivated to raise money for this organization, and we’ve worked hard to make it easy for customers to contribute in a variety of ways.”
Over the past two years, the company implemented an option to donate directly to the charity via the Best Buy mobile app, in addition to the online donation option at BestBuy. com that generated about $500,000 this past year. Additionally, the 2016 point of sale campaign ran for twelve weeks – two weeks longer than previous years.
“We also made sure we celebrated results with customers through a big thank-you campaign,” added Bishop.
Best Buy takes its commitment to St. Jude seriously and works to ensure the cause is visible at every level of the organization. At the store level, St. Jude patients and families are invited to share their stories during employee meetings to help personalize the importance of their efforts. At corporate headquarters, the entrance to a recently-dedicated “St. Jude Theater” is adorned with photos of a recent visit to St. Jude by Best Buy store managers and employees.
“Walking by that theater and seeing how engaged our employees are brings Best Buy’s support for this organization full circle and helps people fully appreciate the impact they’re making on children’s lives,” adds Bishop.
Leading Point Of Sale Industries
Mass merchandisers and warehouse clubs such as Walmart and Costco rang up $80.5 million for good causes, representing 18% of this year’s survey total. Specialty retailers including Best Buy, Petco and GameStop were next, raising $79.2 million for charities, another 18% of the total. The online sector led by eBay and Humble Bundle made up 16% of the total with $69 million generated, followed by QSR/Fast Casual (16%) at $71.4 million and Grocery (15%) at $67.7 million.
A Win-Win-Win For Retailers, Consumers And Causes
Retailers with the best programs approach giving at point-of-sale as they would other business priorities: with creativity, experimentation, leadership support and passion. While it’s true that a handful of campaigns showed declines over 2014 dollars raised, the fact is that far more showed strong growth. These programs produce millions of dollars for good causes and serve as an important highlight around which an entire company—from front line to Csuite—can rally.