Leading Retailers Raise Social Profitability Awareness with ‘Checkout Charity’

Consumer engagement and donations increase at point of sale

Many of Canada’s leading retailers boost their Social Profitability right at their cash registers. Costco, Loblaws, Shoppers Drug Mart and Walmart are prime examples of those who have upped the ante in charitable giving, prompting customers to add a little extra to their purchases by making donations to a charity of choice. These small ‘asks’ have resulted in tens of millions of dollars going to worthy causes every year.

According to a study by Ipsos Marketing and Companies & Causes Canada, 60% of Canadians reported having made a donation to charity at the checkout counter. It’s the most frequently mentioned method retailers use to help customers make a social impact.

“As these point of sale campaigns grow increasingly common in the Canadian marketplace, it’s critical that retailers and charities alike understand how consumer sentiment and best practices impact the effectiveness of the campaign for company, cause and consumer,” said Companies & Causes Canada Communications Director, Megan Strand.

For many years, we’ve seen various charity coin banks and boxes next to the cash registers, inviting customers to drop in spare change.

Over the last number of years, there’s been a proliferation of paper cutouts appearing in stores, that peak during specific months of the year… pink ribbons in October for Breast Cancer Awareness and sneaker-shapes in spring and summer months for charitable runs.

They are available for purchase at the checkout counter, usually for a set fee of $1, $3 or $5, with proceeds going to benefit the cause. Customers are asked to write their name, or honour a loved one and then affix these cutouts to a display in store. These are especially popular when the store is a corporate sponsor of the charity or event.

Another way retailers have been prompting customers to ‘give’ is by Sales Associates requesting an outright donation, or asking customers to ‘round up’ their purchase to the nearest dollar increment, with the difference donated to a designated charity. The Sales Associate can make the request at the cash or the purchaser can receive an automated pin pad prompt when paying by debit or credit.

In some instances, the automated ask has seen increased donation amounts and has helped with consistency.

Additionally, many stores offer a gift-wrapping service with proceeds benefitting a specified charity. This is a popular incentive for busy shoppers during peak gift-giving times, such as before the holidays and for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.

Consumer incentives, such as a discount or reward for giving, have proven to be a win-win situation for customers as they feel like they are getting something for doing good, and has made the job of asking easier for Sales Associates.

Retailers can then assess the data from these types of programs and incentives and draw a direct link from the data back to the public perception of their social impact.

See the infographic of the Ipsos Marketing and Companies & Causes Canada study results:


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