In today’s fast-paced retail environment, capturing consumer attention is paramount for successful point-of-sale (POS) fundraising. As consumers are bombarded with messages and stimuli, social impact professionals must adopt innovative strategies to stand out and engage with causes at the register effectively.

The State of POS Fundraising

POS fundraising remains a robust channel for generating significant funds for various causes. In 2022, campaigns raised $759 million, with a majority of consumers responding positively to donation requests at the register. Key statistics from recent reports highlight the potential and preferences in POS fundraising:

  • 78% of consumers feel positive about giving at the register.
  • 59% are more inclined to donate with a retailer match.
  • 35% prefer donations to support local issues.

Example: Walmart’s “Fight Hunger. Spark Change.” Campaign – Walmart’s annual initiative, in partnership with Feeding America, enables customers to make donations at the register or by purchasing participating products. This campaign has raised $20 million, demonstrating the power of combining direct donations with purchase-triggered contributions to combat hunger.

Navigating the Attention Economy

The modern retail landscape, combined with rising consumer distrust and register donation fatigue, requires strategies that can effectively capture and maintain consumer attention. We’re living in the “Attention Economy” – the human capacity to engage with the many elements in our environments that demand mental focus. The human caapcity for attention is limited – where the content and events vying for that attention far exceed our capacity. This inevitably causes consumer friction at the register, will yields fearful retailer who are becoming increasingly hesitant to ask their consumers to donate at the register. So, what do we do about this?

  1. Employee Education:  Yes!  Educate employees on the mission and incentivize to do so, but also incorporate speaking points about transparency and consumer sensitivity.​
  2. Donation Transparency: Educate consumers on where donations are going and call out assumed tax write-offs to improve their engagement and trust. ​
  3. Consumer Relevancy: If it matters to the people…they will engage!  And, if customers engage, retailers will back it.  ​

Addressing Consumer Preferences

Understanding the demographics and preferences of your audience can significantly enhance the effectiveness of POS campaigns:

  • Gender Differences: Women tend to prefer rounding up their bills, while men are more motivated by retailer matching.
  • Age Variations: Younger consumers (18-24) show higher donation rates but are less likely to return, whereas older consumers (35-55+) are more loyal when donations are matched.
  • Ethnicity Preferences: Different ethnic groups have varying preferences and motivations. For instance, Hispanic/Latino consumers prefer in-store donations, while Black consumers are motivated by retailer matches and prefer knowing the cause in advance.

Example: Panda Express and the American Red Cross – Panda Express collaborates with the American Red Cross for disaster relief, enabling customers to donate at the point of sale and through digital orders. The campaign includes a dollar-for-dollar match up to $1 million, with clear, timely communication to maximize impact.

Implementing Register Programs in the Attention Economy

Creating valuable content and engaging storytelling are essential:

  • Valuable Content: Use data analytics to tailor messages based on customer profiles and behaviors.
  • Compelling Messaging: Leverage emotions and simple language to connect with customers. Invest in dynamic video and striking imagery to capture attention.
  • Omnichannel Approach: Utilize social media, email, blogs, and digital ads to build a narrative before making the donation request.

Example: AirBnB’s Open Homes Program – AirBnB’s Open Homes program supports the International Rescue Committee by allowing guests to donate during booking, with AirBnB matching these donations. This integration within the booking platform and transparent communication about the impact have been crucial in raising significant funds for refugee support.

Steps for a Successful Charity Checkout Campaign

  1. Ideate: Develop the campaign framework, including theme, messaging, timing, and marketing elements.
  2. Target: Define ideal partner personas and target industries/missions.
  3. Goals: Set fundraising goals based on traffic and conversion rates.
  4. Connect: Use differentiating messaging to engage potential partners.
  5. Customize: Tailor campaign elements, technology, and marketing materials.
  6. Communicate: Distribute campaign communications across multiple channels.
  7. Measure: Track performance, donations, donor sentiments, and brand exposure.
  8. Expand: Iterate and enhance campaign elements with matching gifts, incentives, and employee engagement.

Example: Chipotle’s Digital Ask for Disaster Relief – Chipotle’s digital-only campaign for disaster relief exemplifies a successful gray sky approach. Using concise and clear ask language and the simplicity of a round-up option, the campaign raised significant funds during a four-week period, proving the effectiveness of timely and focused efforts.


In the attention economy, capturing and maintaining consumer focus is vital for successful POS fundraising. By integrating technology, empowering employees, understanding consumer preferences, and crafting compelling narratives, social impact professionals can drive significant contributions and create lasting impacts.

For more inspiration, download our Point-of-Sale Fundraising Inspo Book that examines the inner workings of 25 POS campaigns supporting 5 different causes.

Published On: May 22nd, 2024 | Categories: POS Fundraising |

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