Checkout Line Charity

What kind of monster would answer the question — posed publicly at a checkout line in front of (many) other customers– “would you like to donate your change to starving orphans (or some such)?” with a callous “No, thanks.”


I can think of (at least) three reasons why.

One.  It’s manipulative (see above), predicated on more than a little dollop of public shame. 

Two.  I give privately to charities of my own choice, that I know personally and have vetted.

By contrast, the corporate-designated “checkout charity” is invariably a complete unknown to the thousands (millions?) of customers being solicited on its behalf.

Vetting the Recipient

Out of all the worthy charities in the world, why did the corporation choose this one?

What cause(s) does the charity support, and how well do they do it?

What promises or ties did the charity have to make/cultivate with the store to get such prominent billing?

Try getting answers to those questions while you grab your coffee and newspaper in line and hasten out the door.

Turnabout, or, Corporate Double Standard

Three.  I don’t like the practice of making minimum wage employees query every customer with such an awkward come-on.

Whether the cashier asks the question sincerely and enthusiastically (a few) or deadpan (most), clearly, they have a script to deliver — and no discretion about doing so.

Because I see no point in shooting the messenger, I merely imagine (vs. say) the following exchange:

Clerk:  That’ll be $7.75.

Me:  Here’s $7.

Clerk:   I still need another 75¢.

Me:  I’m collecting money for “Save the Children.”  Would your company be interested in charging less for their product(s), and donating the difference?

If corporations want to cultivate an image for doing good works and feel strongly about an individual charity, let them donate money from their own bottom line, or, encourage their employees — starting at the top — to give generously from their paychecks.

P.S.:  Connoisseurs of loaded questions (as well as attorneys practiced in cross-examination) know that it’s hard to top this doozy, asked of a defendant on the witness stand:  ‘have you stopped beating your wife yet?”

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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