Monday, January 11, 2010

On Hamfisted Fundraising

From the Wall Street Journal, Eric Felton's op ed “Sorry I Gave at the Store” posed some interesting points worth looking at.

Felton takes issue with retailers having their sales people advise customers of discount and savings, then boldly suggesting they donate the money they just saved to a particular charity the retailer is canvassing for. This type of “salesmanship” puts people in a very uncomfortable position: the person may be in debt, out of work or simply prefer to donate to a different charity of choice without coercion at the cash register and without feeling obligated. Or not.

My view is that while this new modus operandi may seem like a practical way to fundraise, it could actually work against the retailer and the charity(s). The last thing a shopper wants – one who has just finished the typical retail transaction, i.e., chosen an item, looking forward to a receiving discount, taken item to the register and is fishing through his/her wallet to pay for said item – is to be presented with a guilt trip to donate money at that point of purchase.
Most likely, this will result in a) the alienation of a retailer’s customers who go home feeling intimidated by the store, and b) the creation of a negative association with that charity. In my mind, this will decrease the likelihood of customers either returning to that store and of them donating to that charity again.
A tactful and yet still effective approach would be for a transparent and honest effort between the retailer and the charity before the customer gets to the cash register. Think shelf-wobblers, price tags, and in-store displays letting shoppers know that the retailer is working with XYZ charity and how the store’s customers can help.

Otherwise, I see the above as a lose-lose scenario. I’d love to hear what you think. Leave a comment and/or take the poll located on the sidebar.

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