Leaders in POS Charity Collections

Top four convenience store campaigns raised more than $11 million in 2012

Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News

RYE, N.Y. -- An analysis of the top retail charity campaigns that "inspired consumers to donate at [the] point of sale" places four convenience retailers among "America's Checkout Charity Champions."

The Cause Marketing Forum recently analyzed the largest POS charity programs to better understand how much this form of fundraising generates for charity each year, the benefits to participating companies and best practices for creating more successful programs.

More than $358 million was raised in 2012 by an elite group of 63 million-­dollar-­plus charity checkout campaigns identified by Cause Marketing Forum, Rye, N.Y. In aggregate, these large POS donation programs have raised more than$2.3 billion over three decades.

While most initiatives involve brick-and-mortar retailers, the No. 1 consumer donation-producing program in 2012 was eBay Giving Works; its U.S. participants generated more than $54 million for thousands of nonprofits, according to the report issued in May.

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.

The third largest consumer donation campaign was a year-­round coin collection effort at more than 13,000 McDonald's restaurants that raised $27.9 million in 2012 to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.

In the convenience-store industry:

  • Springfield, Ohio-based Speedway raised more than $6.27 million for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals in 2012, placing it at No. 15 on the Cause Marketing Forum list. In the 21 years since beginning the fundraising campaign, Speedway has raised $50 million for the charity.
  • Valero's Corner Stores, San Antonio, raised nearly $2.36 million for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, earning the chain the No. 41 spot on the 2012 list. Over 15 years, the c-store chain has collected nearly $17 million for the charity.
  • Circle K earned the No. 48 spot on the list for raising $1.51 million in 2012 to benefit the American Red Cross. The two-year-old initiative by the chain, part of Alimentation Couche-Tard, Laval, Quebec, has raised a total of $3 million so far.
  • Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores lands the No. 52 spot on the list for raising more than $1.43 million in 2012 to benefit the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. This was the first year of the campaign for the Oklahoma City-based chain.

Four industry sectors dominated this collection of campaigns, generating $1 billion: Mass merchandise/club stores (Walmart/Sam's Club , jcpenney, Kmart, TJX and Costco) rang up $72.6 million for good causes, a 20.3% share of dollars raised. The online sector (eBay and Apple) brought in 16.6% of donations. The supermarket sector (Safeway, Food Lion, Stop & Shop, Publix) carted in $52 million for a 14.5% share. Casual dining/quick serve restaurants (McDonald's, Yum! Brands, Chili's Grill & Bar, Wendy's, Arby's and Joe's Crab Shack) collected $51 million in donations, 14.2% of the total.

Tactics: Consumer donation cause marketing campaigns can take many formats. The most popular include:

  • Icon/Pinup. At checkout, consumers are asked if they'd like to "purchase" what is typically a paper icon (e.g. a sneaker or pink ribbon) for a set dollar amount (usually $1, $3 or $5) to benefit a designated charity. The icon is then displayed in the store. Partners of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals have raised hundreds of millions through the group's "Miracle Balloon" pinup program over the years.
  • Donation Request. Similar to the "pinup" program above, consumers are asked to make a flat donation upon checkout, typically in a fixed dollar increment.
  • Coin Collection. A canister, box or other collection device is placed at point of purchase with messaging on where a consumer's spare change will be donated. Ronald McDonald House Charities received $27.9 million in 2012 from coin collection in over 13,000 McDonald's locations.
  • Round-up. Consumers are asked upon checkout if they'd like to round up their purchase to the nearest dollar increment with the overage going to a designated charity. For example, if a consumer agrees to round up a $12.47 purchase, 53 cents goes to charity and the consumer pays an even $13.
Steve Holtz, CSP/Winsight By Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News
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