Do you like or loathe being asked for a donation at checkout?

Discussion
Jul 20, 2015

While Boomers typically aren’t crazy about being asked to donate at cash registers, younger generations generally favor the spreading practice.

According to an online survey of 3,030 U.S. consumers taken in May and October last year by Good Scout, a social good consultancy, 60 percent of Boomer respondents dislike being asked to give at a cash register. However, 57 percent of Gen-X respondents and 70 percent of Gen-Y respondents liked being asked.

Another key difference was that 64 percent of Gen-X and 68 percent of Gen-Y respondents felt positively about the retailer after giving versus only 47 percent of Boomers.

Good Scout noted the register donations have become a "mainstream part of our shopping experience" with $350 million raised through charitable checkout campaigns in 2012, according to America’s Charity Checkout Champions report. As such, the study explored whether the fundraising tactic had become oversaturated and leading to "consumer fatigue on giving" setting in.

The encouraging stat was that 60 percent of consumers felt positively about the retailer after being asked to donate at the register. Sixty-five percent remembered the last retailer that asked them to give to charity at the register.

Checkout donations

Source: Good Scout Group – “Change at the Checkout”

Other findings:

  • Overall, 71 percent of respondents had donated to charity at the register;
  • Fifty-five percent of respondents liked being asked to give charity at register;
  • Of the 45 percent that that disliked being asked, 35 percent still give because they feel guilty if they don’t donate, 21 percent give because the cashier asked them, 12 percent give due to peer pressure and eight percent give because it is "easy to do";
  • Forty-seven percent remembered the last charity they gave to at the register. Asked why they felt compelled to donate at the register, 28 percent indicated charity brand recognition, 27 percent "cause it’s personal to me," 14 percent because the cashier asked them, 12 percent because the "cause is emotional," and 10 percent felt peer pressure.

 

Do you see donation requests as a net positive or negative for retailers? Does it make sense that younger generations are more open to donation requests at cash registers than older ones?

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Braintrust
"My guess is that it depends on the charity and the reaction of the checkout clerk when they get a no response. My Walgreens collects donations for gum for soldiers and they ask for $1. They are very polite if you pass. I still see it as a positive for them."
"Many in the younger generations probably haven’t gotten into the habit yet of making larger donations to charities of their choice, which are also tax deductible."
"As a consumer I do not like nor do I give money to charities at checkout. My concern is I question if the money actually gets to the charity. With all the fake charities on the internet, I think consumers need to do more checking before giving."

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22 Comments on "Do you like or loathe being asked for a donation at checkout?"


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Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
6 years 9 months ago

My guess is that it depends on the charity and the reaction of the checkout clerk when they get a no response. My Walgreens collects donations for gum for soldiers and they ask for $1. They are very polite if you pass. I still see it as a positive for them.

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
6 years 9 months ago

Many in the younger generations probably haven’t gotten into the habit yet of making larger donations to charities of their choice, which are also tax deductible. For Boomers like me it may feel like a guilt trip (one of our catchphrases from the ’70s) to donate a buck or two to a charity we may or may not care about, after having been so proud of ourselves saving 75 cents with a couple of printed coupons. So for the Generation X and Generation Yers it’s a way to give a little and feel like they are doing something, while with Boomers it may be something else we have to feel guilty about. So it all depends on whose business you want — the younger generations or the older ones. Let me guess …

Frank Riso
Guest
6 years 9 months ago

I do agree with the Boomer group and find it more negative. I do think most Boomers have established charities that they normally donate to frequently and find it negative to be asked again and again.

Younger shoppers may not have established giving plans and find the small amount asked for by a cashier easier.

Lastly, I wonder what the cashier feels like, having been given the task of asking each shopper to donate. Can they refuse or is it in their job description?

I do not mind a donation can at the register that I would or would not use to donate but I do mind being asked by the cashier.

David Dorf
Guest
6 years 9 months ago

There’s less pressure when the solicitation is done via the PIN pad instead of the cashier. Plus it’s more convenient to simply round up or add a couple bucks to the total. NRF ARTS has a standard for this called Change4Charity. It is a net positive for retailers, as long as it doesn’t significantly impact checkout time.

David Biernbaum
Guest
6 years 9 months ago

When checkers ask customers for a donation at the checkout, it’s a very effective way to raise money for charities. To deny this would be naive.

However, I’m not surprised that nearly half the customers surveyed indicated that they do not like the practice, and unless it’s a one-time or once-a-year event I do not recommend this practice to supermarkets. Customers do not like being put on the spot in front of other customers, nor even in the presence of another human being, in this case the checker his or herself. It might make for a bad last impression of any particular shopping experience at any given store.

In addition, and to add insult to injury, many checkers are not well trained to take no for an answer, and some might even try to over-sell. I was recently in a store where a customer was asked to make a donation, and when the customer whispered, “not today,” the checker replied, “even a dollar would be helpful.” Yikes.

W. Frank Dell II, CMC
Guest
6 years 9 months ago

As a consumer I do not like nor do I give money to charities at checkout. My concern is I question if the money actually gets to the charity. With all the fake charities on the internet, I think consumers need to do more checking before giving. For some retailers it may be a plus, but anything can be overdone. Retailers should spend their time attracting customers into their stores or onto their websites and selling products. That is the business and if all the efforts were expended on it most retailers would be doing better.

Dick Seesel
Guest
6 years 9 months ago

I see nothing wrong with the practice but I rarely respond with a donation. As Al’s comment suggests, shoppers “of a certain age” (like me) probably already donate to their favored causes and track those gifts for tax purposes. But there is nothing wrong with younger consumers cultivating the habit of doing good.

Some retailers (PetSmart, for example) know their target audience and raise funds accordingly, in this case for local animal shelters. And any retailer engaging in a program like this is likely to garner goodwill, not just donations.

Nikki Baird
Guest
Nikki Baird
6 years 9 months ago
I think it depends a lot on the execution. I have no problem with a pet store asking me if I want to round up or donate a dollar to a known animal charity, for example. That makes sense for the brand and is targeting a group of customers that makes sense. When a local high school student was stabbed, the store where she worked (an Eddie Bauer, as I recall) organized a donation day through the whole shopping center where her store was located. You bet — that was an amazingly cool thing to do. I have a harder time following — and get annoyed when asked about (and technically, I’m an Xer for whatever that’s worth) — donations that seem to be lacking a logical explanation. It’s great that this fast food chain is collecting money for a children’s hospital, but the company doesn’t target kids (barely even has a kids menu) — so why are you doing it? I think that explanation, or brand resonance, is as important as the act itself. If your company is… Read more »
Steve Montgomery
Guest
6 years 9 months ago

Asking me once is OK but after being asked to donate to the same charity several times in the same store I have to believe that it gets old, not only for me but for the cashier. As others have commented, it may be a Boomer thing. We have IDed those charities we want to support and do so privately, not in checkout line.

David Livingston
Guest
6 years 9 months ago

These surveys can be skewed to say whatever they want. I have no idea if it all makes sense or not. You will not see donation requests at high-volume successful retailers. Aldi, Trader Joe’s and Costco, etc., often have long lines and they need to get customers through the checkout. The few seconds of asking for a donation reduces employee productivity.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
6 years 9 months ago

Personally I am not bothered by this. I give what I want, but not to all charities at the checkout line. I expect it and will make a donation. Frankly, sometimes I find it necessary to say no to some requests at the register. Publix allows the Girl Scouts to sell cookies in the lobby.

Fred Blanton
Guest
6 years 9 months ago

BIG NEGATIVE. I am already giving at the register and it’s like, why don’t you take some of the profit on the sale and just give it if it’s all that worthy? The younger generations are giving less as they are less trusting.

Marie haines
Guest
6 years 9 months ago

My own concern is that I have no way of knowing at that point if 100 percent of my donation is going to the named charity or a portion. Also, does the retailer then get the recognition of making a large accumulated donation and the tax deduction?

Naomi K. Shapiro
Guest
Naomi K. Shapiro
6 years 9 months ago

I don’t see how it can be a positive for retailers, but it’s a big negative for me. I’m Generation X-Post Facto. I come to the retailer to shop and move on to the next pressing thing as fast as I can.

I make donations in my own time and own way, and no one else needs to know. Nor do I need to be put on the spot or slowed down while the person ahead of me is approached. Perhaps a special place after the checkout, before exiting, could solve this.

I can’t presume to know how the younger generations think, are motivated. or act.

Adrian Weidmann
Guest
6 years 9 months ago
As a Baby Boomer, the problem for me is not being made aware of the charity and its cause but being asked every time I shop that particular store. Typically you simply don’t know the details associated with the charitable association, its cause and if, in fact, it is reputable and worth supporting. Being asked for a donation for the third time in a week gets old and is counterproductive. The other issue with cash register donations is the public pressure aspect of this strategy. I certainly am in favor of saving African elephants and despise poachers killing these animals to support the ivory trade but it makes me uncomfortable when I’m asked publicly to donate to the cause every time I go and grab a coffee. Do I support the carnage when I say no? Of course not, but it still makes me cringe. I’d rather see a program that openly supports an initiative with every purchase you make. Companies like TOMS have used this approach and it has become synonymous with their brand.… Read more »
Kenneth Leung
Guest
6 years 9 months ago

Personally, I don’t mind it. I prefer it to be an option on the PIN pad or a round up to the nearest dollar for charity. I plan my donations as part of financial planning and do it directly to take the tax deduction. For the survey, I think given the on-demand nature of the younger generation they are opting for more “impulse” charity. Hopefully, those who are used to point-of-sale charity today will be the bigger charity donors of tomorrow.

Karen Marvel
Guest
Karen Marvel
6 years 9 months ago

Net negative. Periodic events and support for their charitable tie-in is okay, but to ask you every time you check out for a donation is disingenuous. You never hear what they actually do with the money they receive.

Richard Wakeham
Guest
Richard Wakeham
6 years 9 months ago

Actually, I’ll do almost anything not to have to put return change (coins) in my pocket. Some retailers have that option at checkout. Or…I’ll use the cups or containers provided at checkout.

Shep Hyken
Guest
6 years 9 months ago

The best companies have a cause or a mission to stand for. It’s what they rally around, and some of their customers know and appreciate the retailer for it.

Asking the customer at the register to “round up” to an even dollar amount is an easy way to get hundreds and thousands of customers to give away pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. That adds up.

kim maguire
Guest
kim maguire
6 years 9 months ago

For the reasons that many others have already mentioned, it does not surprise me that the younger generations are more open to this than the boomers. However, for retailers, I think this practice does not come across as genuine for many customers. My response is if a retailer is serious about raising money for a specific cause, it would be much more genuine if they agreed to match 50¢ on the dollar for every donation they get. I have a problem with a retailer asking me to pay for any charity that they are not also supporting. How many retailers would continue to ask us for our money if they had a policy of some type of matching funds? I have told many cashiers, “if your company will match what I put in, here is my money.” Funny, not one yet has taken me up on this.

Christopher P. Ramey
Guest
6 years 9 months ago

Shaking down a client undermines the relationship.

A more proactive idea would be to tell clients at checkout that, based on their purchase today, the grocery store is donating $X. After all, the grocer is the one profiting from the relationship.

Phil Rubin
Guest
Phil Rubin
6 years 9 months ago

As with most things involving retail and customers, asking a customer for a donation to a charity comes down to a strategy and how it’s implemented. We work with a lot of companies that are philanthropic at a corporate and employee level. When these causes are aligned with and relevant to customers, it is logical, supported and enhances the brand (and makes the world better).

However, when companies ask for donations with no other explanation or context, it gives customers pause, even if some segments look at it as a way to do good. The question I always ask is whether the company is supporting this cause with its own funds or simply being a conduit to raise the funds from customers. If the latter, it’s flimsy and the lack of authenticity will ultimately turn customers off.

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Braintrust
"My guess is that it depends on the charity and the reaction of the checkout clerk when they get a no response. My Walgreens collects donations for gum for soldiers and they ask for $1. They are very polite if you pass. I still see it as a positive for them."
"Many in the younger generations probably haven’t gotten into the habit yet of making larger donations to charities of their choice, which are also tax deductible."
"As a consumer I do not like nor do I give money to charities at checkout. My concern is I question if the money actually gets to the charity. With all the fake charities on the internet, I think consumers need to do more checking before giving."

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