An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
AT THE CHECKOUT COUNTER the other day, I was asked if I wanted to give a couple of dollars for a charity.
I said no, but felt obliged to add that I’ve already given to that particular charity this season, which I have. I felt uncomfortable, too, as if everyone in the store was suddenly staring at me.
Most times, I just say “Sure,” because two bucks isn’t much. Maybe it’s why these $2 asks at the cash register are so effective. They’re called point-of-sale fundraisers and they generate millions for charities, especially during Christmas.
Call me Scrooge but I’ve long complained about them for several reasons, including the guilt factor. They can also be vague as to where the money goes, and the cashiers can’t always tell you — their job is to ask you to give, not necessarily to know why.
A lot of charities are well-known while others not so much, and maybe we’d rather donate in the usual ways to those we’re well-informed about.
I also sometimes wonder whether the store is matching donations at the checkout or simply passing them along.
Though point-of-sales does raise a lot of money, most shoppers say no. One study found that customer satisfaction with the store asking for the donation dropped by 10 per cent.
While 10 per cent might not sound like much, the study estimated it adds up to millions in lost revenue for the stores.
So what would make it less intrusive? How about a silent option on the PIN pad, similar to the tip option inserted by so many retailers? Or small signs at the checkout offering a donation option? Or a spare-change coin bin? Or limit it to online sales only?
Some stores do some of these things already but not many. Maybe those methods don’t bring in as much money but reducing annoyance and increasing customer satisfaction might be worth it in the long term.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops, former TNRD director and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.\