Coin canisters, paper icons, and other fundraising tools at retail and restaurant checkouts are generating hundreds of millions in revenue for charity, according to America’s Checkout Charity Champions, a new Cause Marketing Forum study.


More than $358 million was raised in 2012 by an elite group of 63, million-dollar-plus, corporate-backed campaigns identified by Cause Marketing Forum. Large charity checkout programs have raised over $2.3 billion in the last 30 years, the study reports.


While most initiatives involved brick-and-mortar retailers, the number one donation-producing program in 2012 was eBay Giving Works: its U.S. participants generated more than $54 million for thousands of nonprofits. Throughout the year, eBay Giving Works empowers sellers to earmark a percentage of their sales proceeds to charity and also invites buyers to make voluntary contributions. Since 2003, eBay Giving Works has generated over $240 million in charitable donations in the U.S. alone.


The largest in-store program of 2012, a six-week Miracle Balloon Campaign by Walmart and Sam’s Club, brought in $41.6 million to benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH). Consumers purchased paper balloon icons at checkout in more than 4,000 stores to support the national network of pediatric hospitals. Since 1987, the annual campaign by Walmart and Sam’s Club has raised more than $556.8 million for CMNH.


The third largest consumer donation campaign was a year-round coin collection effort at 13,000+ McDonald’s restaurants that raised $27.9 million in 2012 to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities. Between 1992 and 2012, the program raised $227.4 million.


“American companies are bonding with consumers, turning on employees, and raising big bucks for worthy groups by requesting donations at the point of sale,” says David Hessekiel, president of Cause Marketing Forum Inc., the leading authority on business initiatives designed to do well by doing good. “This study is the first to recognize the leading programs, to measure how much they raise and to share best practices that will help companies and causes produce even more successful point-of-sale fundraising campaigns in the future.”


The total generosity of companies and consumers at checkout is much, much larger. For each of the 63 million-dollar-plus point-of-sale campaigns identified in this study, Hessekiel estimated there were hundreds of smaller campaigns fielded by businesses large and small, each of which raised thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.


America’s Charity Checkout Champions includes advice from point-of-sale donation experts on how to create programs that benefit the sponsoring company and beneficiaries. Among the top tips offered: select the right charity partner; engage and educate front-line employees to build their confidence in asking for donations; and offer consumers incentives for giving.


A free copy of America’s Charity Checkout Champions, including an honor roll of initiatives that raised $1 million+ in 2012 will be available for download at as of May 30, 2013.


The top 10 checkout donation campaigns of 2012 ranked by amount raised were:


1) eBay/Giving Works

$54,020,000 to over 22,000 US nonprofit organizations via seller contributions and donations at checkout


2) Walmart & Sam’s Club/Miracle Balloon Campaign

$41,643,464 to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals via paper icon sales


3) McDonald’s/Coin Donation Box Program

$27,900,000 to Ronald McDonald House Charities via coins collection at register


4) Costco Wholesale/May Icon Campaign

$14,444,331 to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals via paper icon sales


5) Safeway/Breast Cancer Awareness fundraiser

$12,350,561 to hundreds of Breast Cancer organizations via donation request at checkout


6) Safeway/People with Disabilities

$9,237,548 to Easter Seals, Special Olympics, Rebuilding Together and other charities via donation request at checkout


7) Safeway/Prostate Cancer Awareness and Research

$9,235,491 to The Prostate Cancer Foundation via donation request at checkout


8) Walgreens/Way to Well

$8,541,403 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure via donation request at checkout


9) KMART/March of Dimes Fundraising Campaign

$8,000,000 to the March of Dimes via donation request at checkout


10) Safeway/Muscular Dystrophy Association

$7,607,677 to the Muscular Dystrophy Association via donation request at checkout


Safeway had the most campaigns in the top 10 list with four supermarket checkout efforts raising a collective $38.4 million+ to fight breast cancer, prostate cancer, and muscular dystrophy and to help people with disabilities. 

Charitable Giving, Consumer Trends, News, McDonald's