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A Guide to Point-of-Sale Donations

A Guide to Point-of-Sale Donations Header Image
Point-of-sale donations are a common form of fundraising you have likely seen at your local grocery store or restaurant chain. As you are finishing your transaction, you are asked if you would like to give to a nonprofit organization that the business has partnered with. You may find this interaction uplifting or awkward, but how do you know if giving is the right thing to do? 
Myth-busting Point-of-sale Campaigns
Unfortunately, this decision has been complicated by a harmful myth making the rounds online: the host businesses can use your donation toward their charitable tax deductions. This is false. If you care to, you can claim your donation for your own charitable tax dedication.  
With that myth out of the way, there are other legitimate reasons you may or may not want to engage in point-of-sale donations. 
Reasons to Donate Through Point-of-sale Donation Campaigns
The advantage of point-of-sale donation campaigns is that they create a place for a multitude of small donations to come together to form significant support for an organization. Many organizations have a minimum donation amount because of the cost of processing donations. If you don’t have the budget to give larger gifts, you can contribute as little as a few cents through a point-of-sale campaign. In 2018, 79 point-of-sale fundraising campaigns raised over $486 million for nonprofits in the U.S. This is a substantial contribution to the social sector, and you can be a part of it.
In addition to facilitating small donations, checkout charity is convenient. Busy schedules may not leave time for debating between causes and organizations or sitting down to actually make a donation. With limited effort, you can ensure that you are giving to a solid organization to provide a meaningful contribution in concert with others. 
The flexibility, accessibility, and convenience of point-of-sale donations make them a great option for donors who want to make the most of small donations. If incorporating generosity into your regular routine through checkout charity brings you joy, it is a good fit for you. 
Reasons to Choose Another Donation Strategy
Point-of-sale donations as a concept may not be for you, or specific campaigns may not suit your needs. 
Checkout charity is really centered around the cumulative impacts of many small donations. If you want to give more than a couple of dollars at a time, it is worth spending a little more time to find the organization(s) that really match your giving goals.
If you feel rushed, awkward, or stressed when you are asked to support a cause at checkout, this is not the joyful giving experience you should pursue. You can always use an invitation to donate at the cash register as inspiration for your own giving. You may decide to give to the same organization in the privacy of your own home. 
Even if checkout charity suits your giving style, not every campaign is necessarily the right fit. Don’t donate to point-of-sale campaigns supporting a cause or nonprofit that you would not otherwise deem worthy of your support. It is not always clear how the money for a point-of-sale campaign will be distributed. If you cannot find satisfactory answers about how the money will be used online or by asking during your transaction, you may want to pursue another giving strategy. 
Giving at Checkout
If you decide that point-of-sale donations are a good fit for your giving strategy, follow these steps to do it right. 
  • Vet the organization. Find a quiet moment in line or between shopping trips to quickly search the organization associated with the campaign on Charity Navigator and take any other steps you need to feel confident in your giving. Remember that point-of-sale campaigns are usually designed to appear in your routine, so you will have many chances to engage. 
  • Give. Once you have decided that a campaign is worth supporting, select an appropriate donation amount for your budget each time you are invited to give, which may include declining to give. 
  • Keep your receipts. If you want to claim a charitable tax dedication, your receipt will include your donation and can be used when filing your taxes. In 2021, even those who do not itemize may be eligible for a limited charitable tax deduction.  

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