How Merchants Can Make Charitable Donations A Marketing Win

As a business owner, you know that one of the eternal challenges for non-profit contributions is figuring out if there’s a viable ROI. In short, you need to know that your act of generosity is not solely altruistic, but that there are going to be near-term rewards. The best way for you to view these donations is marketing opportunities, not merely business disruptions from local organizations seeking donations. Contributions are a very effective way of connecting with the community and giving residents concrete reasons to visit your establishment. That is the essence of marketing.

We understand that the best way to encourage you to make more contributions lies in making the process as painless as possible. With that in mind, we at Beyond have rolled out a mobile app called Chip-In. The app makes it easy for consumers to find business owners who support charities they care about—their child’s school supplies program, perhaps. It allows each store to set its percentage, place parameters such as minimum purchase required and maximum contribution, as well as the ability to change their campaign during different days and times.

On the marketing front, the app’s data flow does more than keep a running tally on the amount donated. It notes which campaigns are bringing in more customers and the average bill/check for each campaign. In the quest for ROI data on all marketing efforts, this app delivers the stats to prove it. It delivers the marketing data to support your next move, as in “which campaign do I renew? And to which customers do I email additional discount coupons? Who gets added to the CRM database?”

Another key benefit with the app approach is that it takes a rather egalitarian approach to both business owners—the one-location corner pizzeria can participate as easily as Pizza Hut—and charitable groups, with a tiny volunteer-run booster club as comfortable as the United Way. The ease-of-use inherent in a well-designed mobile app, coupled with the significant customization from Chip-In, makes it easy for anyone to participate.

That ease-of-use on both sides is critical because the biggest hurdle for your team to engage in any charitable marketing effort is hassle. The less time and energy it requires, the more likely you’ll be to give it a try.

That no-effort element actually extends to all three players with these kinds of charitable efforts: you, the merchant, who offers the donation; the charitable group that receives the funding and promotes the platform; and the consumer who participates by frequenting that merchant and is alerted by the app to the local donation opportunity (as in “You’ve expressed an interest in supporting the cross-country program at Acme High School. Here are local restaurants and retailers who are supporting that program.”).

All that the program requires is for the consumer to link one or more payment cards to the app and select a non-profit to support.

The efficiencies and improved ROI, by the way, are not limited to you and other business owners. A typical charitable venture gets only a small percentage of the money raised when they sell items such as wrapping paper, cookie dough and other trinkets from a brochure. For the program to raise the needed $20,000, the program typically has to sell about $50,000 worth of merchandise. If that school had switched to an app-based program, it would have raised that $20,000 by bringing in $20,000 in donations. Such a move would also free up the remaining $30,000 to be spent locally in the community.

The best part is that the consumers who participate in such a program are highly likely to become your regular customers. Those regular customers are likely to deliver to you highly favorable word-of-mouth.  Additionally, these cause-driven buyers go out of their way to buy from stores that give back, and they typically spend more than other buyers.

How customizable is completely customizable? You can set the price so that it covers the donation (“Spend $50 and we’ll donate 10 percent to that playground fund”) or go to the other extreme and have virtually no limit (“Spend at least one dollar”) so that consumers have the maximum incentive to drop by. The donation can be capped (“we’ll donate ten percent, up to a $1,000 transaction”) and set for a specific day or time to encourage foot traffic when it’s most desired.

Another helpful feature is that an app can just as easily support your online efforts (ecommerce) as well as your physical stores. It’s all part of the attributes associated with that consumer’s payment card. The app can directly link back to an online jewelry store, for example, to allow an incentivized purchase to happen within seconds of the app offering being displayed. This marries the charitable thought and intent with the purchase, allowing for the donation to be made before the consumer’s thoughts move elsewhere. Another win-win for both your team and the charity.

As opposed to the “charity checkout” model, where a consumer is asked whether they would like to donate $1 to a specific cause at the cash register, the Chip-In model lets the shopper control the recipient of your contribution.

Coordinating and managing charitable donations for a local cause is a lot of work. Chip-in makes it a lot easier and a lot more efficient—for all concerned. See a demo today.

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