Checkout Charity: How Do the Pennies Add Up?

 

Pennies

September 1, 2013; Tampa Bay Times

If you’ve been to the grocery store lately, you were probably asked to donate to charity. Checkout charity campaigns are becoming an increasingly common way for nonprofits to raise funds and for corporations to indirectly contribute to good causes. The Cause Marketing Forum recently analyzed 63 campaigns that had each raised more than $1 million in 2012, a combined total of more than $358 million raised that year. (Their extensive list of campaigns follows at the end of this Newswire.)

Three of the biggest efforts of 2012 were as follows:

  1. EBay raised more than $54 million by encouraging online sellers to donate a portion of their proceeds to charity.
  2. Walmart and Sam’s Club’s six-week Miracle Balloon campaign raised more than $41 million in 2012. Four thousand stores were involved in raising the funds to be donated to a national network of pediatric hospitals.
  3. McDonald’s coin collection raised $28 million in 2012. More than 13,000 restaurants participated, raising funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities.

While these large campaigns catch our attention, thousands of smaller campaigns are also being organized around the country in businesses large and small. According to the Cause Marketing Forum, over the last 29 years, these sorts of campaigns have raised more than $2.3 billion for charity.

Health is the clear winner when it comes to checkout charity, receiving 68 percent of all donations. Children’s health charities received 47 percent of the funds analyzed by the Cause Marketing Forum. Significant donations went to well known organizations, such as St. Jude Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Miracle Network. Twenty-one percent of funds analyzed were donated to other (non-children’s) health-related concerns, such as autism, cystic fibrosis, breast cancer and muscular dystrophy.

Such campaigns have grown in recent years and are becoming so routine that many customers are becoming desensitized. In some cases, customers even dread the inevitable question.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that Jennie Blackburn of Redington Shores, Florida, said, “If there's a bunch of people in line behind me and the cashier asks me to make a donation, it makes me feel so trapped and judged, especially if it’s for the troops…It’s a lot of pressure.”

There are four key solicitation tactics used by companies. Consumers are typically asked if they would like to:

  1. Purchase an Icon/Pinup for a set dollar amount
  2. Give a direct donation
  3. Put loose change in a collection jar
  4. Round up purchases to nearest dollar

Nonprofits interested in developing a campaign should do their homework. In our post-Sarbanes-Oxley world, there are numerous legal issues involved with such fundraising efforts. The laws and registration requirements vary from state to state.

The Cause Marketing Campaign’s report offers seven tips:

  1. Select the right partner
  2. Educate employees
  3. Create professional materials
  4. Build incentives for customers
  5. Involve vendors to build a total store event
  6. Analyze the data
  7. Recognize and thank

These seven tips seem simple enough but beware. It can be more complicated than you think. Remember the Pink Bucket campaign launched by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Kentucky Fried Chicken? This 2010 campaign raised $2 million in its first week, but garnered much negative attention when activists pointed out that the campaign seemed to send contradictory messages: It’s okay to eat fatty, fried foods as long as you get a breast exam. A seemingly good idea quickly became a public relations nightmare.

Like it or not, checkout charity campaigns are here to stay. They are an easy way for corporations to demonstrate corporate social responsibility. The campaigns raise significant funds, mostly for the larger and well-known nonprofit organizations. And they allow donors to contribute in small amounts.—Jennifer Amanda Jones

Company Name Charitable Beneficiary Year Initiated Final Donation 2012 Total Campaign Donation Since Inception
eBay Over 22,000 nonprofit organizations 2003 $54,020,000 $240,968,189
WalMart and Sam’s Club

 

Children's Miracle Network

Hospitals

1987 $41,643,464 $556,750,072

 

McDonald's

 

Ronald McDonald House

Charities, Inc.

1992 $27,900,000 $227,400,000

 

Costco Wholesale Children's Miracle Network

Hospitals

1988 $14,444,331 $136,649,713

 

Safeway

 

Hundreds of nonprofit

organizations

2001 $12,350,561 $107,516,468
Safeway

 

Easter Seals

Special Olympics

Rebuilding Together

Multiple local nonprofits

1986 $9,237,548 $139,000,000

 

Safeway The Prostate Cancer Foundation 2001 $9,235,491 $84,932,527
Walgreen Co. Susan G. Komen for the Cure 2011 $8,541,403  
Kmart March of Dimes 1983 $8,000,000 $106,000,000
Safeway The Muscular Dystrophy

Association (MDA)

2002 $7,607,677 $68,782,673

 

Lowe's*

 

The Muscular Dystrophy

Association (MDA)

2001 $7,600,000 $30,000,000

 

Kmart*

 

St. Jude Children's Research

Hospital

2006 $7,500,000 $37,000,000
Pizza Hut

 

United Nations World Food

Programme

2007 $7,400,000

 

 
CVS/Pharmacy

 

St. Jude Children's Research

Hospital

2004 $6,400,000 $37,446,525

 

Speedway

 

Children's Miracle Network

Hospitals

1991 $6,272,307 $50,000,000

 

Rite Aid 97 Children's Miracle Network

Hospitals

1994 $6,000,000 $56,000,000

 

iTunes American Red Cross   $5,300,000  
Walgreen Co. American Red Cross 2011 $5,287,932  
CVS/Pharmacy ALS Therapy Alliance

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

2002 $5,200,000 $30,274,639

 

Chili’s Grill & Bar* St. Jude Children’s Research

Hospital

2002 $5,059,671

 

 
Food Lion Children's Miracle Network

Hospitals

1991 $5,000,000 $45,000,000
Macy’s Reading is Fundamental 2004 $4,800,000 $27,000,000
Dick’s Sporting

Goods*

St. Jude Children's Research

Hospital

2007 $4,800,000 $22,000,000

 

Taco Bell Taco Bell Foundation for Teens

Various nonprofit organizations

2010 $4,200,000 $10,000,000

 

Toys ’R’ Us Toys for Tots 2004 $4,000,000 $31,600,000
ANN INC. St. Jude Children's Research

Hospital

2007 $4,000,000 $15,800,000**
Williams Sonoma*

 

St. Jude Children's Research

Hospital

  $3,800,000

 

 
Spirit Halloween Over 130 children's hospitals 2006 $3,500,000 $11,000,000
jcpenney Salvation Army 2012 $3,400,000  
Walgreen Co. American Diabetes Association 2011

$3,253,394

 
Macy's The Nature Conservancy 2012 $3,200,000  
Food Lion Easter Seals 2004 $3,100,000 $16,000,000
Macy's March of Dimes and 8,000 local nonprofits 2006 $3,100,000 $42,000,000

 

Toys ’R’ Us Autism Speaks 2007 $3,100,000 $13,300,000
GNC* St. Jude Children's Research Hospital 2006 $3,100,000 $10,000,000

 

Stop N Shop The Jimmy Fund 1995 $3,000,000 $50,000,000
Wendy's Dave Thomas Foundation for

Adoption

1996 $2,790,000 $20,000,000

 

Arby's Share Our Strength 2011 $2,665,129 $4,170,000
Publix 21 Children's Miracle Network

Hospitals

1992 $2,507,029 $23,576,549
New York & Company* St. Jude Children's Research

Hospital

2008 $2,500,000 $10,000,000
Corner Stores 32 Children's Miracle Network

Hospitals

1997 $2,357,229 $16,902,450

 

Claire's* St. Jude Children's Research

Hospital

  $2,000,000

 

 
jcpenney USO 2012 $1,900,000  
Toys ’R’ Us Alex's Lemonade Stand

Foundation

2011 $1,900,000 $3,400,000

 

Sears Rebuilding Together and its 200

local affiliates

2007 $1,800,000 $15,500,000

 

Sunglass Hut One Sight 2006 $1,792,445 $6,700,000
jcpenney Breast Cancer Research Foundation 2012 $1,600,000

 

 
Circle K American Red Cross 2010 $1,513,160 $3,000,000
Ace Hardware Children's Miracle Network

Hospitals

1991 $1,500,000 $50,000,000

 

jcpenney 4H Boys & Girls Clubs 2012 $1,490,000  
Finish Line* Special Olympics   $1,450,000  
Love's Travel Stops &

Country Stores

Children's Miracle Network

Hospitals

  $1,432,911

 

 
Wells Fargo American Red Cross   $1,400,000  
Brooks Brothers

 

St. Jude Children's Research

Hospital

Make-A-Wish Foundation

2005 $1,350,693 $7,785,000
Jiffy Lube Muscular Dystrophy Association   $1,250,000  
Famous Footwear March of Dimes 2003 $1,245,000 $11,195,000
JP Morgan/Chase American Red Cross 2012 $1,198,324  
American Airlines U.S. Fund for UNICEF 1994 $1,185,740 $8,880,407
Kia Motors DonorsChoose.org   $1,150,000  
jcpenney Share Our Strength 2012 $1,100,000  
TJX Companies American Red Cross 2012 $1,030,331  
Joe's Crab Shack Share Our Strength 2005 $1,013,998 $2,400,000
Family Video Lymphoma Research Foundation   $1,000,000  

* Data gathered from publicly available sources. ** Reflects several programs

About

Jenny Jones

Jennifer Amanda Jones, Ph.D. is the Assistant Professor of Nonprofit Management and Leadership at the University of Florida. Her research interests include nonprofit management, philanthropic giving, and social enterprise initiatives. She is a member of Nu Lambda Mu, the international honor society for nonprofit scholars. Prior to her academic career, Dr. Jones was involved in research projects benchmarking the nonprofit sector in San Diego and in the State of California. Additionally, Dr. Jones has spent more than 15 years working with nonprofit organizations of various types and sizes. She also served on the board of directors for a community foundation.

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