Fundraising With Businesses: Chapter 2, Register Programs
C H A P T E R
T W O
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.
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
THINGS TO REMEMBER
Donating via Credit Card Machine
Four Ways to Track Donations from Register
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.
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.
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 http://fwb40.us/18JVYhK or scan the QR
code to view them on your smartphone or tablet.