While buying some clothes at the mall last week, I was asked if I wanted to make a charitable donation after the items had been scanned through at the checkout.
I do make charitable donations but not at the checkout, and I don’t like being asked to donate while I am buying something.
Apparently I’m not alone – in a recent consumer survey over 75% of consumers have a negative reaction about being asked to make a donation at the store register when making a purchase.
They’re being called ‘charity checkout campaigns’ and they’re growing in numbers.
The requests are never for large amounts – usually $1 or $2 to a certain charity. But if you roll out a campaign to all stores across the country in a major retailer and across all checkout registers, those amounts can add up quite fast.
Social Stigma of Not Donating
I think checkout charity campaigns are designed to catch a consumer off-guard. When you buy something in store, you’re usually thinking about the item you’re buying and how you’ll pay for it – not about making a donation.
They’re also designed to play on the negative stigma attached to saying ‘no’ to a donation request. Some people fear they’ll be viewed as cheap by others in line if they don’t say yes to the donation request.
On top of that, they may make some people feel guilty. If you’re buying a $100 sweater, can’t you afford to spend an extra $1 or $2 to a charitable cause?
Related: Things I Refuse to Pay For
Personally, I feel a bit guilty about not donating when asked – but then I realize that I do make donations monthly at home, not while I’m rushing through a store checkout.
Where Does the Money Go?
The main reason I don’t make donations at a cash register is because I like to do some basic research on where my money is going and how it will be used.
There’s no sense in donating to a cause that you think will provide benefits for those in need, when in reality most of the money is used to pay the salaries of a large charitable organization with high overhead costs.
I like to donate my money to organizations that I know will use the money as I intend – to help others.
A good starting point for some basic research is the Money Sense annual charity rankings. They rank the charities annually based on factors like fundraising efficiency, governance and percentage of spending to the intended program(s).
Another reason I like to make donations on my own time is the tax consequences. When I make a donations I like to get the tax credit for it, and I won’t see any tax advantages through numerous donations at the store checkout.
Since the government introduced the charitable donation super credit, the stakes are even higher; the tax incentives to make charitable donations are better than ever. Call me greedy, but I like to take advantage of any tax breaks I can.
Conclusion: I prefer to not make donations at a store checkout while buying something. Sure, theres a negative social stigma that comes with saying ‘no’ but I prefer to do some research on the charities so I know where my money is going…..and also take advantage of the tax credits I can receive.
Do you make charitable donations when asked at a store checkout?