Get the facts about ‘checkout charities’

Shoppers visiting supermarkets and other retailers who make their way to the checkout counter face various impulse purchases. Along with the packs of gum, tabloid magazines and chilled soft drinks, consumers have another possible purchase to consider: a charitable donation.

“Do you want to donate $1 to (insert charity name here) today?” That’s a question people are increasingly hearing when they run to grab a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread. According to a recent Good Scout Group study, nearly three out of four Americans admit to having given donations when checking out at stores or restaurants.

Checkout charities can be extremely effective for raising awareness and collecting considerable donations. Forbes has found that checkout charities raise hundreds of millions each year.

These charity programs take many forms and can be featured everywhere from department stores to supermarkets to fast food restaurants. Some charities ask for flat donations while others request shoppers “round up” their purchases. Other retail centers have coin or bill collection containers at the checkout counters. In 2014, McDonald’s raised roughly $27 million by collecting loose change at their checkout counters.

Although checkout charities can be quite effective and help a vast array of groups and people, there are some things to consider. When faced with a split-second decision of whether to donate or not, consumers do not have the proper time to evaluate a charity. While many charities featured at checkout counters are valid and do worthy efforts, shoppers who want to be more thoughtful and thorough with their giving have other options. Organizations can use signage and other informational takeaways to help the public understand their charities better and make more informed giving decisions.

Technology has changed the way checkout charities may work, with donors adding donations into their checkout bills or using donation kiosks. Some of these technologies may make it possible to record donations and track the impact of a campaign, but other donations may not come with receipts, making it hard for donors to claim tax deductions.

Some argue that checkout charities are impersonal and that they pressure or guilt shoppers into making impulsive donations. Consumers have the choice to decline solicitations without explaining themselves.

Checkout charities are popping up more and more at stores and restaurants. Consumers can weigh the benefits of donating in this way or more traditional ways.

Author: Rachel Howell

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