Charity at the Checkout

I read Paul Vallely’s article in The Independent with interest.  In it, he talks about the coalition government’s latest ‘Big Society’ type initiative to encourage philanthropy – by making it easier for shoppers to add a donation to their purchases through the credit card PIN machine.  And it made me wonder whether I would consider adding a donation to my bill at the end of the usual frantic shopping at Tesco experience.  And I’m a professional fundraiser.  All the, who gets the donation, how much should I give, will I Gift Aid it – is that not expecting a bit too much of shoppers who really just want to get out of there as quickly as possible (preferably with all the children, bags, keys etc. they arrived with)?

And then, of course, there’s the point of view of the charities themselves.  The article made the valid point that PIN machine donations don’t give donors the opportunity to really connect to the charity itself – as those charities benefitting from the donations will have been chosen by the retailer rather than the person making the donation.  It also means, in all likelihood, that the large well-known and already well supported charities will benefit while small, local or less appealing causes will be unlikely to make it onto any list of potential beneficiaries chosen by the likes of Waitrose, Tesco or HMV.

And so, where is the potential for donor engagement; encouraging future possibly larger donations; and increasing the sustainability of fundraising for these organisations.  And how likely is this initiative in helping to fill the gap left by the inevitable government cuts to the sector – both direct and indirect? 

Of course, encouraging philanthropy and making it easier for people to give to charity can only be a good thing – perhaps it might get people thinking about how they can support charities close to their own hearts.  However, the cynic in me suspects that this is yet another PR exercise.  And that, while taken as a whole, the entire level of donations may sound impressive at the end of the first, second or third year of this scheme, it is unlikely to have made that much of a difference to individual charities – and even less likely to have helped those smaller, leaner and often highly effective grassroots charities that our society really needs.

Would you consider adding a donation onto the end of your shop at your local Tesco’s?  Or are you so busy rounding up children, filling up bags and trying to find your car keys that charity is likely to be the last thing on your mind?

PIN philanthropy, fundraising ideas

by Flickr user Mark Hillary

5 Responses to “Charity at the Checkout

  • I have to confess, this is the last thing on my mind at the checkout. Although if it raised only a little extra money for charity then I guess it would be worth doing. We visit supermarkets so frequently that even a couple of quid each donated by only a fraction of people going through the tills could all add up.

    (Thanks for entering the blog carnival, too.)

    • Thanks Helen – yes a few quid (or even small change) will amount to a decent amount. It would be nice to think supermarkets would perhaps choose charities that were local to each of their stores too – but I suspect they’ll just choose the biggies instead.

  • Normally by the end of a big shop with fractious children and a fear of how much the shopping is going to come to, then the last thing on my mind is to add to the bill for charity. I like what they do in Waitrose with a green token to choose one of 3 charities boxes but then I don’t normally do my big shop in Waitrose. I only pop in for one or two item so its all less stressful. Also it doesn’t cost me anything. So no it won’t induce me. I have two direct debits supporting two charities every month instead.

    • I suspect a large number of people will feel like you. Of course, not everyone has children in tow when they’re doing their shopping but generally most of us like to get out as quickly as possible and spend time doing something more interesting than a supermarket shop! It’s a good idea but I hope it isn’t be held up as the next big thing – because I suspect it won’t be. But I suppose we need to ‘watch this space’.

Trackbacks & Pings