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Your Take: Charity Solicitations at Stores

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With it being the holidays, a lot of stores have partnered up with local charities to solicit donations from customers. If you donate a dollar, you get your name on a balloon or a star that gets plastered behind the registers of a store. It’s always voluntary and optional and only in a few cases have I ever heard of someone “donating” without their consent (the recent Radio Shack – Livestrong debacle).

I have no qualms with these types of arrangements, as long as the retailer isn’t too pushy about it, but I almost never donate money. I don’t donate for a couple reasons:

  • It wasn’t part of the plan. I don’t have some grandiose philanthropic plan but there are several charities we support and while a dollar or two here or there doesn’t derail anything, part of me feels a bit ambushed when I’m solicited at a grocery store.
  • Donating direct is more efficient. The store gets something for their involvement (at least the charity has to pay for the promotional materials), I’d rather donate via a website or sending a check so that the charity gets 100% of the money.

There are, however, exceptions to my general feeling towards these solicitations. For whatever reason, if it has to do with kids and if the promotional push is one of their “big” ones for the year, we’ll usually buy a balloon or star or whatever. The prime example is Alex’s Lemonade Stand’s partnership with Rita’s Water ice.

What’s your take on this? Hate them? Indifferent?

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51 Responses to “Your Take: Charity Solicitations at Stores”

  1. Rosa Rugosa says:

    My employer has a great charitable contribution program. We give through payroll deduction to the human service organizations of our choice, and they match us 50% – with no cap! So I never give to the cash register solicitations. I do have to make my nature/animal contributions on my own, because my employer program is targeted to human needs.
    In the season, I try never to pass a SA bellringer without dropping in a dollar. This is somewhat contradictory for me, since I try to avoid giving money to religious organizations, but I really feel like the SA is out in the trenches doing good work more than pushing a religious agenda. And I only tend to pass the bellringers when I’m going to a store, which implies that I have money to spend, which means I can spare a dollar for the person ringing a bell in the cold. That’s one of the downsides of being more frugal – I don’t tend to haunt the stores as much. Maybe I’ll up the ante to $2 a pop! I do have a friend that the SA helped enormously, which probably helps fuel my good feelings towards the organization, although I abhore religious groups in general.

  2. Matthew says:

    LOL! What a bunch of penny-pinching scrooges we have here! Honestly! If you need a tax break to inspire you to give, well…

    I’ve always found them a nice reminder on the way in to a store of how little I am in need some things.

    And to those who would say: “I never donate money.”… Donating your time is good too, but people can be stupid about that too.

    For example: Back in the day, my high school had a group that was dedicated to anti-child-labor advocacy. They planned a trip to Guatemala to help build a school. They all flew down and helped build the school. Good works, right?
    Except that for the price of one plane ticket, they could have hired a bulldozer when they got there. They arrived and borrowed shovels. For the price of a few more tickets they could have gotten concrete poured for the floor… but they never got to that point. Why? Sixteen year old girls wielding shovels take a long time to clear a bit of land. Then they flew home. I guess it was a nice vacation – but like the tax break – all the wrong reasons.

    Volunteers ARE essential for aid organizations. But sometimes, you should just send cash. No money, no mission.

    “I never give to republican politicians”
    Politics isn’t charity. We give to politicians to support certain ideals brought into the government. We give to charities to help those in need. I trust that you can distinguish between your senator and helping buy food so that little old ladies can cook meals for those who need it.

    “… or religious ones. ”
    That’s okay. If you’re in need they’ll still be willing to help you out, NSA. They don’t do it for their benefit. (At least, as far as tangible benefits.)

    Cheers!

    • Christine says:

      Actually Matthew I donate quite a lot to charity and if there were no tax break I would continue to do so, just makes sense to take the allowable tax deduction for my donations. The dollar I don’t give to the grocery store becomes the 25 or 50 which I donate directly.

  3. David says:

    Not a fan. I just feel guilty about not donating, but didn’t plan on feeling guilty while shopping for groceries. It leaves a bad taste final impression of a business if you ask me.

  4. Izalot says:

    I’m more apt to donate when the store matches the contribution or has a coupon of some sort. I understand the charity organization’s strategy in getting people to donate, but I’ve never been moved to have my name on a paper balloon, shamrock or other design to donate.

  5. Liberty says:

    Stars that back these “causes” usually get 30 percent sometimes more. In marketing, charity donations is called “cause marketing,” this is those “causes” endorsed by a star’s name and photo. The star backing the “cause” usually gets a handsome percentage of the take. Stars don’t allow their names and faces to be used for free.

  6. eric says:

    Indifferent mostly. As long as they’re not pushy or try to guilt trip you into doing it. “Would you like to help burned victims get better?” How do you say no without seeming like a jerk?

  7. Shirley says:

    We live in a town with lots of schools. When children come to the door selling something as a fund raiser, I tell them “No, but thank you anyway but when you are going to DO something (jog-a-thon, anything physical) and need sponsors, I will sponsor you.”

    Most do come back for sponsorships and that is something I gladly do. We just don’t need the candy, wrapping paper, etc.

  8. Timtown says:

    What I hate is when they ask while still holding on to your change. I told one woman, “I`m old school… I prefer to be accosted for change outside the store.” I wonder if the stores that encourage this are aware of how much money they are losing from customers like me. I guess I should be grateful for them helping me to break the habit of buying overpriced food items that aren`t good for you anyway.


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