Checkout Charity Campaigns Succeed Because Most Consumers Say Yes

Infographic showing top checkout campaigns of 2014.
Snip of infographic by Cause Marketing Forum. Click here to see all of it. Cause Marketing Forum

Did you feel guilty when you refused to add a buck to your bill to benefit a charitable cause when you were at the grocery store last week?

If you did, you're not alone. In a survey of this type of charitable giving, 35% of consumers who said they didn't like being asked to give at checkout gave anyway because they would feel guilty if they didn't. Guilt works, although most of us don't mind giving in this way.

In fact, as we all become acclimated to checkout charity, its success breeds more campaigns. We are all going to be giving more at the checkout, whether we're buying something online, picking up fast food or doing our weekly grocery shopping.

Why do checkout charity campaigns work? Because we like them. Seventy-one percent of consumers in one study said they have participated in checkout campaigns, and 55% said they enjoyed doing so.

The practice has become embedded in our everyday lives as the latest report from the Cause Marketing Forum shows.

The 2015 America's Charity Checkout Champions Report only compiles information about 77 million-dollar-plus campaigns by some of the most elite brands and charities, but the results are pretty astounding.

Called "point of sale donation programs," just these major campaigns raised more than $388 million in 2014 and $3.88 billion over the past three decades.

Although there was a slight decrease of money raised in 2014 compared to 2012, it wasn't enough to indicate donor fatigue or charity fatigue for that matter.

Companies and charities are all in on this type of corporate/charity cooperation. In fact, 43 of these massive campaigns improved results while only 20 saw decreases.

Plus 19 additional million-dollar-plus campaigns were added.

The top three "champions" of the checkout were:

  1. eBay Giving Works, which partners with thousands of consumer selected charities
  2. Walmart/Sam's Clubs, with its Miracle Balloons for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals
  3. McDonald's Coin Collection for Ronald McDonald House Charities

These campaigns are just a clue to how big checkout charity has become. The Cause Marketing Forum estimates that there are hundreds more company/charity partnerships that raise hundreds or thousands of dollars for many causes, both local and national.

What drives this success? The particular charitable cause does matter. The study found that the most appealing causes were children’s health, disease-related charities, and campaigns focused on animals.

The study also suggested that evolving best practices include:

  • incentives such as discounts or coupons
  • connecting the donation to the company’s loyalty program
  • a tight fit between company and cause (an example is a grocery store raising funds to combat hunger)
  • point-of-sale donation technology (particularly useful when suggested donation levels are baked in)
  • competition between stores and employees (leaderboards, contests and employee recognition)

    Checkout charity is just one kind of cause marketing, but it is a lucrative one. It’s a win-win for both charities and companies, and consumers like it.

    Is your business or charity considering a checkout campaign/partnership? This report contains many suggestions about what works and what doesn't. Read it before you begin.