$358 Million Raised At The Checkout Counter

June 11, 2013       The NonProfit Times      

A dime here, a nickel there and before you know it you’re taking about real money. More than $358 million was raised during 2012 by 63, $1 million-dollar-plus, corporate-backed cause campaigns identified by the Cause Marketing Forum (CFM).

Coin canisters, paper icons and other fundraising tools at retail and restaurant checkouts are generating hundreds of millions in revenue for charity, according to America’s Checkout Charity Champions, a new study by the CFM in Rye, N.Y.

A variety of retailers, supermarket chains and restaurants made the list, while the charities run the gamut from children’s health to education. Cause Marketing Forum combed through public data to identify the largest point of sale donation programs and asked companies and nonprofit organizations to provide campaign details during the spring of 2013.

Cause Marketing Forum relied on publicly available information such as annual reports or press releases when companies or nonprofits declined to provide information for the study.  Information based on public information is footnoted in the report.

To qualify for inclusion, a Charity Checkout Campaign had to invite consumers to make donations at point of sale and had to have raised at least $1 million in consumer donations during 2012. Only program activity in the United States was included in the study.

While most initiatives involved brick-and-mortar retailers, the number one donation-producing program in 2012 was eBay Giving Works. Its U.S. participants generated more than $54 million for thousands of nonprofits. Throughout the year, eBay Giving Works empowers sellers to earmark a percentage of sales proceeds to charity and also invites buyers to make voluntary contributions. Since 2003, eBay Giving Works has generated more than $240 million in charitable donations in the U.S.

The largest in-store program of 2012, a six-week Miracle Balloon Campaign by Walmart and Sam’s Club, brought in $41.6 million to benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Consumers purchased paper balloon icons at checkout in more than 4,000 stores to support the national network of pediatric hospitals. Since 1987, the annual campaign by Walmart and Sam’s Club has raised more than $556.8 million for CMNH.

The third largest consumer donation campaign was a year-round coin collection effort at 13,000+ McDonald’s restaurants that raised $27.9 million in 2012 to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities. Between 1992 and 2012, the program raised $227.4 million.

“American companies are bonding with consumers, turning on employees and raising big bucks for worthy groups by requesting donations at the point of sale,” said David Hessekiel, president of CMF.  “This study is the first to recognize the leading programs, to measure how much they raise and to share best practices that will help companies and causes produce even more successful point of sale fundraising campaigns in the future.”

The total generosity of companies and consumers at checkout is much, much larger. For each of the $63 million-plus point-of-sale campaigns identified in this study, Hessekiel estimated there were hundreds of smaller campaigns fielded by businesses large and small, each of which raised thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

A free copy of America’s Charity Checkout Champions, including a list of initiatives that raised $1 million+ in 2012 will be available for download at www.CauseMarketingForum.com on May 30, 2013.

The top 10 checkout donation campaigns of 2012 ranked by amount raised were:

1) eBay/Giving Works

$54,020,000 to over 22,000 US nonprofit organizations via seller contributions and donations at checkout

2) Walmart & Sam’s Club/Miracle Balloon Campaign

$41,643,464 to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals via paper icon sales

3) McDonald’s/Coin Donation Box Program

$27,900,000 to Ronald McDonald House Charities via coins collection at register

4) Costco Wholesale/May Icon Campaign

$14,444,331 to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals via paper icon sales

5) Safeway/Breast Cancer Awareness fundraiser

$12,350,561 to hundreds of Breast Cancer organizations via donation request at checkout

6) Safeway/People with Disabilities

$9,237,548 to Easter Seals, Special Olympics, Rebuilding Together and other charities via donation request at checkout

7) Safeway/Prostate Cancer Awareness and Research

$9,235,491 to The Prostate Cancer Foundation via donation request at checkout

8) Walgreens/Way to Well

$8,541,403 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure via donation request at checkout

9) KMART/March of Dimes Fundraising Campaign

$8,000,000 to the March of Dimes via donation request at checkout

10) Safeway/Muscular Dystrophy Association

$7,607,677 to the Muscular Dystrophy Association via donation request at checkout. Safeway had the most campaigns in the top 10 list with four supermarket checkout efforts raising a collective $38.4 million+ to fight breast cancer, prostate cancer and muscular dystrophy and to help people with disabilities.

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