Forbes – Leadership: Charity Checkout Remains Strong, Even In A Changing Retail Landscape

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Credit: Engage for Good

Six years ago, Engage for Good launched a first-of-its-kind biannual survey identifying million-dollar-plus, point-of-sale fundraising campaigns that captured in-store and online-based programs. In 2016, 73 million-dollar-plus campaigns brought in $441.63 million. This year’s survey reveals that in 2018, 79 initiatives brought in $486.37 million, an increase of 10%.

The increase in funds raised demonstrates that consumers continue to be willing to partner with trusted retailers to support good causes both in stores and online. Social impact programs continue to have a place in today’s omnichannel retail environment.

Indeed, according to Blackbaud’s 2017 Charitable Giving Report, the most common way consumers made a charitable donation over a 2-year period was “checkout donations” listed by fully 50% of respondents.




While much ado has been made about the mass migration of consumers to online shopping at the expense of traditional brick and mortar stores, close to 90% of all shopping is still done in physical stores, according to the National Retail Federation. Even traditionally online-only retailers such as Amazon, Warby Parker and Casper (which all have strong social impact programs) are opening brick and mortar stores to meet the evolving needs of their consumers.

The persistence of in-store retailing is good news for point-of-sale fundraising whose success relies so heavily on enthusiastic employees making personal asks to consumers.

As retailers hone their digital presence and work to offer frictionless payment options to their consumers, anecdotal evidence finds that retailers are willing to bring their nonprofit counterparts along for the ride. They continue to identify ways to offer digital options that allow consumers to participate in their existing point-of-sale fundraising initiatives.


Top 2018 Point-of-Sale Players

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Credit: Engage for Good






eBay for Charity

Coming in at number two on the list is PetSmart, which is also the largest brick-and-mortar POS fundraising program in this year’s report. The program has brought in more than $400 million for the animal welfare efforts of PetSmart Charities since it was started in 2006.

Achieving a billion-dollar industry milestone with its longstanding partnership is the Miracle Balloon program at Sam’s Clubs and Walmart stores which asks consumers to donate at checkout to help sick and injured children at their local children’s hospital. Coming in at number three for dollars raised in this survey, the campaign raised $36.5 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in 2018, a 1.3% decrease from its 2016 total with a slightly shortened campaign window (six weeks instead of seven.)

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Round Up, Round Up And More Round Up

In our 2016 report, we shared that 16% of survey respondents mentioned offering consumers a round-up option at point of sale. As predicted, this tactic is growing rapidly. This year, nearly 38% of respondents were using the round-up option with consumers with much success and several new-to-market campaigns rely exclusively on the tactic (e.g. Grubhub and Lyft).

Several retailers with long-standing point-of-sale programs have moved exclusively to a round-up effort.

For example, Casey’s General Stores recently shifted their annual campaign from an icon campaign (where a consumer is asked to donate a specific dollar amount) to an employee-facing prompt asking the customer if they would like to round up their purchase to the nearest dollar.

Not only did the program more than double in funds raised ($1 million in 2018 to $2 million in 2019), but the execution and cost of the program decreased significantly, according to CMN Hospitals’ Clark Sweat.

Other retailers are shifting to round-up but not completely abandoning their traditional point-of-sale programs.

For instance, Macy’s introduced ‘Make Good Cents’ in 2017, a round-up program benefitting a variety of causes from sending local kids to summer camps to supporting neighborhood food banks. One such round-up effort enables individual Macy’s stores to choose the benefitting charity. Five of these ‘Make Good Cents’ campaigns appear on the list this year, totaling $5.9 million. The retailer also had two additional long-running campaigns on the list outside the round-up efforts, bringing their overall total raised at point of sale for 2018 to $9.1 million.




Yet other retailers have found success using the round-up option as a type of second bite at the apple if customers seem hesitant to donate or decline to make a flat donation.




Take Domino’s Pizza, for example, which raised $9.8 million in 2018. Of that amount, $1.5 million was attributed to their round- up program. As a company known for testing everything from autonomous vehicles to the fonts on their website, the consumer donation experience at Domino’s is no exception. “We’ve been in testing phase on our round-up program for several years,” explained Jeannette Sharp who works in Domino’s community relations and PR department.

After extensive order flow testing, they landed on the current execution. During the order process, the company presents consumers with a pop-up window asking if they’d like to make a donation to St. Jude. If consumers decline to donate, at the end of the order process they are presented with an opportunity to round up their order to the nearest dollar. Consumers that agreed to the initial pop-up donation aren’t presented with the round-up option.




Domino’s also tested which performed better, the St. Jude logo or a picture of a St. Jude patient (the patient image won that test) and according to Sharp, “We also found that sharing what, specifically, the monetary donation might help fund (e.g. an IV bag for a St. Jude patient) increased participation. By providing that explanation, consumers were better able to understand where that dollar would go and were more compelled to help out.”

A Point Of Sale Prediction

We predict a continued move to integrate round-up efforts at point of sale, and continued success of the fundraising tactic as a whole as existing businesses continue to build trust and engagement with the tactic and new players adopt this increasingly popular way to raise funds for important causes.

Click here to download the full Charity Checkout Champions report and infographic.




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Source: forbes.com

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