Lauren Dula, Binghamton University – Checkout Charity Boom

On Binghamton University Week: Do you give to charitable causes at the register?

Lauren Dula, assistant professor of public administration, explores this phenomenon.

Dr. Dula is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at the College of Community and Public Affairs. Her research focuses on gender, equity, and diversity in the nonprofit and public sectors. She combines traditional public administration themes such as representative bureaucracy, and organizational and governance theories with social theories from psychology and sociology in the study of nonprofits and the public sector.

Checkout Charity Boom

From supermarkets to retail, people in the United States are used to being asked for donations while making in-person or online purchases.

Some leading charitable causes retailers have recently championed are relief efforts in Ukraine, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Checkout charity campaigns raised almost $750 million in 2022, with campaigns through Walgreens, PetSmart, and eBay being among the nation’s largest.

As a researcher focused on nonprofit management and charitable fundraising, my colleague Dr. Ruth Hansen of the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater and I wanted to know more about those who say “yes” to giving at checkout, which we call “impulse giving.”

We surveyed nearly 1,400 American adults to ask about impulse giving. Over half the respondents said they had given to charity within the past year while paying for purchases. Those who give said they donate about $50 a year.

Among those who donate, the most common form of donating is rounding up their total to the nearest dollar. Another popular form was adding an amount, such as $1, to their order. Less common are people who purchase tokens for in-store display.

Our survey found that women and Black respondents were the top-giving demographics with checkout charity. Middle-class individuals under 50 who have not attended college were also more likely to donate. These patterns contrast with formal donors or those who give directly to charitable organizations, who are usually older, higher-earning college graduates.

While there is still more to study, the total raised from checkout campaigns has increased yearly since 2012. However, the frequency of donation requests at checkout may lead to complacency or annoyance. The numbers could take a dip when impulse giving isn’t so impulsive anymore, and “no thanks” will become easier to say.

Read More:
[The Conversation] – Amid ‘checkout charity’ boom, some Americans are more likely to be impulse givers than others

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