Growing Trend Of ‘Checkout Charities’ Has Customers Feeling The Pressure

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — From the supermarket to the drug store, are you being ambushed at the checkout counter by cashiers wanting you to donate to charity?

Some say this act is exhausting their good will, and others want to know what happens to all that money.

“Would you like to round up 31 cents to go to charity?” a cashier might ask a customer.

It’s a question you may be getting more and more at checkout counters.

Shopper Gabby Jimenez says she gives because she thinks she’s doing a good deed.

“It’s a great way to show the community that you’re giving back,” Jimenez said.

But shopper Eric Berrios has a different opinion.

“It’s like a little pressure,” he said.

It’s not a new concept, but “checkout charity” is a growing one. Dozens of big name retailers collected nearly $400 million last year on behalf of a variety of charities.

But are shoppers guilted into it, or glad to be handing over the cash?

That’s the question one charity consultant posed to more than 3,000 people in a recent survey.

“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.

The Good Scout Group, which conducted the survey, says 55 percent of shoppers say they don’t mind being asked to donate at the counter because it’s easy and affordable.

But, a significant amount — 45 percent — say they dislike being asked to donate at the register and do it only because they feel pressured.

“So in other words, if they do not give, they feel guilty about it,” Hill said.

Charity Watch, a charity watchdog organization, says stores generally don’t take a cut of checkout campaigns. However, in some cases, the charities may pay the retailer a monthly fee for making the collections.

If you’re hesitant about giving, experts say simply explain that you want to learn more about the cause first — or, say you already donate to a charity of your choice.

“If they don’t want to give, the donations are completely voluntary,” said Walmart manager Kevin Perry, who adds they never pass judgement. “Hopefully they never feel pressure, but hopefully they want to give to the communities they’re in.”

JCPenney says it tries to make it a little easier on customers by asking them to “round up” their bill to the nearest dollar.

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

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