WTVM Special Report: Checkout Charity

WTVM Special Report: Checkout Charity

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) –  When you go to pay at some stores, retailers ask if you’d like to give a little extra to their “checkout counter charity” donation drives.  

It's the option to round up your purchase and give that extra money to charity. But what happens to all that money and do you feel like if you don't donate, you look bad?

In our special report, News Leader 9's Cheryl Renee has the story about these campaigns and the pressure at checkout.

It's the question you may hear when you check out at some stores.

"Do you want to donate one dollar?"

Being asked to donate a little extra is okay with Geraldine Guerra.

"Most of the time if it's reasonable I just go ahead and do it," Geraldine said.

For shopper Eric Berrios, however…

"I kind of feel guilty because it's usually maybe a dollar or two dollars, and, kind of gives you like- it's like a little pressure," Eric said.

Guilty? Or glad to do it?

What do most shoppers think about donating to charity at the register? That's what a new survey investigated.

It found 55 percent like being asked to give because it's easy and affordable.

"They feel good about the charity they have given to at the register and about the retailer that has asked them to give," said Brittany Hill with The Good Scout Group. "They give because they have recognized that charity."

However, 45 percent of people reported they dislike being asked to donate at the register, but some still give, mostly because shoppers feel a bit sheepish about not doing it.

"A small percentage, but still some, do say that they feel guilty or they feel peer pressured to give, so in other words, if they didn't give, they feel guilty about it," Brittany said.

Though shoppers have varying opinions, checkout counter campaigns are ringing up big bucks.

This study found dozens of different retailers nationwide collected $388 million in just one year.

Walmart and Sam's Club raised millions since starting its donation drive to help local hospitals.  The retail giant says, "hey, shoppers, there's no pressure at the register…"

"If they don't want to give the donations are completely voluntary," said Kevin Perry with Walmart. "Hopefully they never feel pressure but hopefully they want to give to the communities they're in."

JC Penny raised $5 million last year to help kids outside of the classroom by asking customers to "round up" their bill to the nearest dollar.

"Our typical round up donation is about 44 cents, but you know that number seems small but it actually adds up in the long run," said Jamal Thomas with JC Penney.

The survey found 71 percent of people have donated at the register and if you don't want to be one of them, experts say just politely decline.

Shopper Steve Dearwarder says he's got no problem turning down a donation request. But if a store clerk asks nicely?

"If they really do it sincerely and phrase it in the right way I think they're gonna, they'll have a lot more luck," Steve said.

Experts say if you're hesitant about giving because you want to learn more about the cause to ask the store about it, or look on their website for more information. 

Join the conversation on social by using #CheckoutCharity.

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