Taking Your Gardening Dollar

Bothered by check-out counter donation requests?

Our friends at Open Register asked their own readers how they feel about being asked to donate to various causes at the check-out counter and got little response, so let’s see if GardenRant readers would like to weigh in.

I’ll go first.  I dislike the practice but only mildly.  A related practice that I love is what my local organic food co-op does.  Shoppers buying over $25 in goods are given a poker chip, maybe several if they spend enough (I wouldn’t know).  They then take the chip to the array of big jars identified with names of various Good Causes and deposit it in their favorite, which will then receive a real-money donation from the co-op.  I don’t even KNOW how much the store gives Greyhound Rescue for every chip in their jar (to name my most recent choice) but I hardly care.  The chip-and-choose process just makes me feel good about shopping there.

Posted by on July 26, 2008 at 11:17 am, in the category Taking Your Gardening Dollar.
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24 responses to “Bothered by check-out counter donation requests?”

  1. Matriarchy says:

    I don’t like it at all. Your co-op is donating their own money (or a portion of co-op memebers’ money), and asking for you to vote how, not asking for your cash. I donate to charities regularly, but they are nonprofits that I research and choose myself. I don’t like being asked for money at the register – it feels wrong whether I donate or not – the cashier could care less, and knows nothing about the actual charity being promoted. I went to the customer service desk once to complain, noting that they prohibit soliciting in the parking lot, but then solicit you themselves at the register. I don’t have any problem with donation jars on counters in stores and restaurants, or bins to donate canned goods for food banks, or even Santas ringing bells during the holidays. I just don’t want to be asked for cash at the register.

  2. sarahammocks says:

    I hate being solicited for anything at the check out counter–charitable contributions, credit cards, or “store membership” cards. Aside from the awkwardness of on the spot requests for charity, I resent how the all these solicitations and are shoved onto to the humble clerk–excuse me–sales associate. I always suspect there’s a store manager lurking nearby ready to issue a demerit if the clerk doesn’t rattle off the spiel.

  3. Kitt says:

    I’m not fond of it, but look at it from the other side. As the economy declines and government grants shrivel up, organizations that have long depended on charity are suffering.

    Even if only one in 100 customers is willing to round up to the nearest dollar for a donation, that can add up to significant cash to put toward, say, cancer research.

    Sure, its uncomfortable for you to say “no,” just as it is to the bell-ringers at the holidays, the United Way drive at work, the blood center that keeps calling (always at an awkward moment, for me). But how much more uncomfortable is it for them not to be able help the people they want to help?

    I’m much more offended by the commercial advertisements I see everywhere, from the Zappo’s ads in the airport shoe bins to the friggin’ digital signs that blind me on the freeway. And now, reportedly, McDonald’s product placement on the evening news.

  4. Heather says:

    I guess I see both sides. They can ask and I can say no — and I usually do because I give to charities that move me in some way or that I’ve had personal experience with (I chuck my extra change in the Ronald McDonald House bins because my sister spent some time there when her son had heart surgery). I feel bad for clerks who have to ask, but if it’s a question at the end of an on-line transaction, it’s no skin off my nose to click the “no” box.

  5. Kim says:

    I don’t like it. But I dislike it less than someone coming to my door and asking for a donation. Or the folks that stand in the medians or on the concrete strip at busy intersections and stare you down. I choose my charities, so my answer is almost always no.

  6. Emmakw says:

    I usually don’t mind – a dollar added onto my grocery bill really isn’t a big deal! HOWEVER — I am refusing to give any money to the latest cause at my local Shaw’s supermarket – the Curt ” bloody sock” Schilling ALS camapaign. You see, the way I figure, this so-called do-gooder just got paid $8million for doing absolutley NOTHING for a whole year, so no way am giving him anything!!
    Thankyou for allowing me to rant!
    But otherwise I don’t have a problem with checkout contributions! I work for a non-profit( Special Olympics MA), so I know EXACTLY how lean times are getting!!The pie is getting smaller, but we need more and more of it !!

  7. I’m with Kitt – I can see both sides. I don’t like being asked to donate, mainly because I already donate to several charities. I throw my change in the bins at McDonalds and Dairy Queen and I also hit the Salvation Army buckets!

  8. I don’t like it. It’s intrusive. However, it doesn’t leave me needing to dispose of junk mail, so there’s that. Also it doesn’t actually happen to me terribly often. Though a lot of that may be because the husband is the one doing most of the shopping.

  9. Nancy Bond says:

    I really like the idea of the poker chips and jars! We are sometimes asked, during fundraising promotions, if we want to round off our purchase to the nearest dollar, and donate the extra change to the charity named. We usually do it. I don’t mind that. And I don’t mind donation cans or jars at the checkouts — my extra pennies usually go to the A/SPCA. I guess it all depends on how you’re asked and what the charity is.

  10. greg draiss says:

    The worst is when organizations from well outside our market area come in and ask local customers to support a cheer team from 20 miles away.

    Almost as bad are the requests from parents who are doing fund raising for their kids scouting unit when it is the kids job. I cannot tell you ho many phone calls we get from parents saying their kids are working on a community service project and are supposed to soloicit support from professionals………….

    Well mom put your kid on the phone… have them make an appointment with me then confirm with mom that the time is ok. Then show up a few minutes early dressed in their scouting uniform with a written proposal (written by them not mom!) and I will open up the vaults!

  11. Marte says:

    I don’t particularly like it either, but depending on the charity, I may donate a buck. I agree that it’s less onerous than having someone come to the door. What I wouldn’t mind hearing is the grocery store clerk saying at check-out, “Can we round up your total to the next dollar for the food shelf?” I don’t know if anyone does this, but they should.

  12. Reading Dirt says:

    Only when it’s something appropriate. For example, PetCo sometimes asks if we’d like to round up our total to the nearest dollar as a donation to a local animal shelter. Usually there’s a specific campaign that they’re raising money for — like today it’s to raise money for a shelter that just took in 20 pregnant cats that were dumped near a farm.

  13. Hate it.
    I embarrassed myself last year when the checker asked me if I wanted to donate to some cause (worthy no doubt), but I had just received a barrage of medical bills not covered by my Blue Crap insurance plan and I was feeling incredibly crabby , not to mention quite cash strapped.
    I told the checker if he wanted to donate to my medical costs or my grocery bill then I might think of chipping in to his charity.

    That response was really not called for, but truthfully, that is how I felt and still feel.
    Chances are, lots of other folks feel that way too but are too polite ( and sane ) to say so.

  14. It seems innapropriate to me to be asked for donation money at the cash register.

    We give to charities of our choice, not to unknown (possible scam) collections.

    Can’t say that I hate it, just would prefer to not be put in the position of feeling cheap because of saying no.

  15. Hap says:

    I have always found the checkout selling of “donations” to be an invasion of my “personal mental space” and it gives me the same bad taste as being pressured to meet my former “Corporate America” employer’s goals to get employee donations for ”their” chosen charity…

    I would never do it at our nursery. We do support several nonprofits and give regularly to local schools, but that is something that is from us and not our customers, though of course it is coming from the profits we make from selling to our customers.

    But trying to collect a donation at the cash register seems to me to be bad customer service….

  16. Barbara says:

    I agree with Michele – “I told the checker if he wanted to donate to my medical costs or my grocery bill then I might think of chipping in to his charity.”

    I say, “As soon as I save to pay $10,000 in school taxes to Lakeland School District (which is in a county to our south & we are childless by choice) I’d be MORE than GLAD to pitch in!”

    As of next month, I’ll also-honestly-say: “My donations all go to our oil company!”

  17. PeonInChief says:

    I don’t mind the donation token. At our Co-op there are four organizations we can donate to. I alternate between two of them. What I hate, hate, hate is the commercial enterprise that asks as I’m checking out if I want to donate x amount to their charity of choice. It’s usually something like a quarter or a dollar. If I wanted to donate to that charity (and it’s often one I’ve never heard of), I’d write a check for more than a dollar! Movie theaters used to send the underpaid help in before the start of the feature to collect for the theater’s charity of choice, but the patrons rebelled and they quit doing it.

  18. Apple says:

    I don’t mind at all. Adding $1.50 to the weekly grocery bill is a painless way to donate to the local soup kitchen, for me personally, it is easier to come up with a small amount each week than $100 all at once. A dollar for Jerry’s kids or the local children’s hospital is OK. I am free to say no thank-you and often do. Living in a very small town we are often asked to donate to local families that have huge medical bills. I like that your co-op lets you choose where the donation will go and wish businesses would follow suit.

  19. Apple says:

    I don’t mind at all. Adding $1.50 to the weekly grocery bill is a painless way to donate to the local soup kitchen, for me personally, it is easier to come up with a small amount each week than $100 all at once. A dollar for Jerry’s kids or the local children’s hospital is OK. I am free to say no thank-you and often do. Living in a very small town we are often asked to donate to local families that have huge medical bills. I like that your co-op lets you choose where the donation will go and wish businesses would follow suit.

  20. Rebecca says:

    I ALWAYS say no. Interruption marketing is just plain rude. I’m not willing to have strangers take up my time without my permission. I decide which charities I will contribute to after researching them for responsible use of funds. And I go to efforts to not give them my address so they don’t dun me for years for repeated donations. I may choose them again the following year, I may not.

  21. Phanaeus igneus says:

    As a customer, I find it an imposition. There are more deserving causes out there than I can afford to support. I prefer to research and give to the organizations that I consider most important, rather than whichever charity happens to be featured at the register this week.

    I would be much more receptive if they were just providing information instead of using the pressure of a busy checkout lane and a guilt trip to collect donations.

  22. Eileen says:

    I resent it and don’t ever give at the register because I would like them to stop the practice. The Stop and Shop has one (and sometime two)local charities collecting for something or other outside the store (girl scouts, lacrosse team, veterans, etc.) AND it also asks at the register for a regional cause. It is just obnoxious.

    The proliferation of this endless begging is making me weary. I realize there are people far worse off than me but things are tight for us too. Each year we give to local causes and charities that we research.

  23. Judybusy says:

    I agree with the posters who have pointed out that with less federal/state dollars going to help our communities, non-profits have had to get creative.

    My co-op offers the choice of donating 15 cents (or taking a credit)for every used bag you use to pack groceries. It goes to a local coummnity garden.

    Two years ago, when a local sheep farm was destroyed by fire, they asked for donations, as well as more recently for flood relief here in the midwest. I think it’s great way to foster connections between co-op shoppers and the farmers!

  24. Jen says:

    I’ve never been asked…well, actually, we have, and it is a little off-putting. On the other hand, I’m rarely bothered by a little jar collecting donations for the animal welfare league or the local cancer foundation or that sort of thing. If I feel like dropping some money in there, then fine, but no one is staring at you, waiting to see if you are a meanie or not.