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Fundraising With Businesses: Chapter 2, Register Programs


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This is chapter two of Joe Waters' new book "Fundraising with Businesses: 40 New (and Improved!) Strategies for Nonprofits." It will be published by Wiley Publishing in December 2013.

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Fundraising With Businesses: Chapter 2, Register Programs

  1. 1. 3GC02 11/01/2013 1:39:16 Page 7 C H A P T E R T W O Register Fundraiser Cash registers have been a part of American business since after the Civil War. In addition to thwarting thieves, cash registers helped business owners track sales and manage inventory. They also gave rise to the checkout line, which business owners seized on to sell shoppers everything from candy to magazines to lip balm. It was only a matter of time before pamphlets, signs, coin canisters, and other things supporting good causes also became a mainstay at the register. Businesses and nonprofits learned that when consumers had their wallets open, they were also willing to open their hearts to helping good causes. WHOLE FOODS SUPPORTS NONPROFITS AT THE REGISTER With over 300 locations nationwide, there’s a good chance you’ve shopped at Whole Foods, an upscale chain of natural and organic food supermarkets based in Austin, Texas. Register fundraisers are a regular part of the Whole Foods checkout line. Every month, a different cause is featured and shoppers can donate a dollar or more. Whole Foods promotes the cause of the month at the register— usually with signage on the credit card machine. Shoppers can support the YMCA by choosing $2 or $5 cards, which are affixed to the sign with Velcro. The cashier rings in the donation and returns the card to the sign for the next customer. Most of Whole Foods’ register fundraisers are passive, meaning the cashier doesn’t ask the consumer to contribute. The shopper decides for herself how much to give, if anything. ■ 7 ■
  2. 2. 3GC02 11/01/2013 1:39:16 Page 8 REGISTER FUNDRAISER Whole Foods register fundraisers are popular with nonprofits and with good reason. The Whole Foods Market in my town hosted a register fundraiser for the YMCA and raised $1,000. The amount raised varies from store to store, but when you multiply the results across the country Whole Foods raises a lot of money for charities with register fundraisers. HOW IT WORKS IN 1-2-3 1. Using a register sign or tent, the business owner asks shoppers at checkout to donate to a nonprofit. 2. The shopper chooses the amount they want to donate. Sometimes they only have one choice (a dollar is common), but sometimes there are two or more choices ranging from $1 to $5. 3. The cashier collects the donation from the shopper and uses the businesses’ point-of-sale system to record the donation. THINGS TO REMEMBER • Whether you use a sign or tent, put it where shoppers can’t miss it. Smart businesses affix it right to the credit card machine so shoppers are sure to see it when they swipe their credit and debit cards. • Be mindful of the size of the sign or tent. Businesses have limited space at the register and want to avoid “counter clutter” or anything that would turn off shoppers. • An increasingly popular option is to include the donation request right on the screen of the credit card terminal. Some businesses even require that you donate or decline before completing your transaction. See Figure 2.1. • Make sure you are clear on how the business will track donations. Every business has a point-of-sale system—a way of tracking sales. Use this same system to track donations. ■ 8 ■
  3. 3. 3GC02 11/01/2013 1:39:16 Page 9 THINGS TO REMEMBER FIGURE 2.1 Donating via Credit Card Machine Four Ways to Track Donations from Register Fundraisers 1. Barcodes: It’s hard to imagine a time when retailers didn’t have barcodes to scan and track products. Thankfully, they make processing and tracking donations a snap. Working with your business partner to produce a barcode isn’t complicated, but timing is important. Be sure you have agreed on a barcode before anything is printed or distributed to the business partner. Reproducing materials can be expensive! 2. Register Button: If your business partner is a restaurant, bar or bakery, they can dedicate a button on the register for the donation. Work with the business to educate cashiers on where the button is on the register and what happens when they press it. 3. Purchase Code: Sometimes businesses will instruct cashiers to enter a purchase code for the donation. (continued) ■ 9 ■
  4. 4. 3GC02 11/01/2013 1:39:16 Page 10 REGISTER FUNDRAISER (continued) As with barcodes and a register button, this will allow the donation to appear on the shopper’s receipt along with the other items purchased. 4. Separate Envelope: Smaller businesses without barcodes or a modern register can separate donations from purchases with a clearly marked envelope kept near the register. For security and tracking purposes, this isn’t the best option. You can make the process more secure by reviewing the procedure with employees and scheduling frequent pickups. STEAL THESE IDEAS! 1. Consumers that support register fundraisers sometimes have more questions about the fundraiser than the cashier has answers. It’s a good idea to include a phone number, web page, or even a QR code on the register sign that will give consumers more information, if requested. Most consumers are quick to use the camera on their smartphones to capture information that is important to them. 2. For the reason mentioned earlier, signs should be mobile friendly. Use larger fonts and highlight key information. Test the signage with several different types of smartphones to make sure shoppers can easily read the sign after they snap a picture of it. 3. Although register fundraisers don’t usually include an “ask” from the cashier, you’ll raise more money if they do. See Chapter 15 on pinups and how getting cashiers involved can raise more money for your organization. 4. Raising money at the register is just one option. You can ask shoppers to sign a petition, take a pamphlet, watch a very brief video or join you at an upcoming event. You have their attention! Do something with it. ■ 10 ■
  5. 5. 3GC02 11/01/2013 1:39:16 Page 11 FOR MORE INFORMATION 5. Register fundraisers can raise a lot of money. Focus on businesses with multiple locations and heavy foot traffic. The more locations and shoppers a business has, the more money you’ll raise. FOR MORE INFORMATION You can see more examples of register fundraisers by visiting or scan the QR code to view them on your smartphone or tablet. ■ 11 ■
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