TJ Maxx Home Goods Cashier: OK. So total today comes to $86.43.
Me: OK. I’ll put it on my credit card.
TJ Maxx Home Goods Cashier: Would you like to donate to Save the Children Foundation today?
Me: No thanks.
TJ Maxx Home Goods Cashier: Are you sure?
Me: *awkwardly* …Yes.
TJ Maxx Home Goods Cashier: [in a condescending voice] Okay. (Shoves me my bags of pillows and other decorative items clearly necessary for daily survival.)
It’s not that I don’t care for children despite my article of potentially never wanting to have children of my own. The same interaction generally happens at Petsmart, except there is no human asking you if you would like to donate, it’s on the credit card screen as:
Would you like to donate to your local humane society?
No Thanks $1 $2 $3 Other
That is smart. Automated computers never get tired or forget to ask the question. The man in front of me donated, and as the cashier handed him his receipt, he announced, “Thank you for your generous donation today.” Then it was my turn to be rung up. *Gulp*. Now that my wallet is out and it’s clear I have $60 to spend on Kang Kang’s grooming, I should donate at least a dollar to a poor homeless dog, shouldn’t I? I’m sure the woman behind me heard the other man’s donation. Will she judge me and think I am a selfish, awful human being with no heart if I click that ‘No Thanks’ button? Will the cashier smile at me the same way he smiled at the donating man?
That is the problem I have with Checkout Charities. It has capitalized on human psychology and was invented to make a consumer feel trapped, guilted, and selfish if they decline on donating. I once asked a cashier at Albertson’s, “Can you tell me more about this charity? What percentage of the donations go to the actual charity? How much of it goes towards their cause?” She didn’t know how to answer a single question, not even the mission. Well, that is just fantastic.
It really is astounding. According to Cause Marketing Forum’s report, retailers raised $358.4 million in 2012 through this method. Its great for retailers because it makes them look like they actually care about non-profits and great for non-profits because they can profit. All the meanwhile the donations come from the consumer who really has no idea where the money is flowing to.
An article came out in the NY Times recently, titled ‘4 Cancer Charities Are Accused of Fraud‘. Everyone can relate to knowing someone who has been affected by cancer, right? Its devastating and we all want to find a cure or at least make the cancer patients remaining life better. So we slap pink ribbons on everything and hundred of millions of donation dollars later, there goes the executives taking a trip to Disneyworld… without the cancer patients. Only 3% of proceeds actually went to cancer patients? This is ludicrous.
Going back to human psychology, I find it really interesting that many stores now ask, “Would you like to round up your change to the next dollar?” I almost always say yes on this one. I don’t know what it is about nice whole round numbers. And for some reason knowing you are donating less than a dollar almost makes it feel like 0. What? My total is $3.01? Sure, let’s round that to $4. Add 99 cents …pfft that’s not even enough to buy a junior cheeseburger post tax.
Anyways, my point is, don’t get scammed into donating. Donate to causes you care about and donate anonymously. Unless you’re in the PAC party, there’s no need to share with the public who you support unless your end goal is to get others to donate to your cause you’ve researched and feel passionate about. Look at every charity as if they are a homeless drunk man asking you for a dollar. Would you trust this person?
Let’s discuss! To donate or not to donate?