The Charity Bag Pack – Dilema

I had a bit of a dilemma at the weekend. I was out doing the weekly shop and once again there was another charity bag pack collection.

My dilemma wasn’t of the “Please don’t put the 2 litres of milk on top of the sliced pan” but it was of the “I have no cash”

I would think that I am like many people now who don’t shop with cash, instead they shop with credit or laser cards. And even when it comes to the trolley, I have a token. So my heart sinks a little bit when I see the eager kids waiting to pack my bags for me. With no cash I tend to say, its ok I will do it myself, I have no change. But then I feel like a grumpy old man.

Surely there is a way/better way for charities to do bag packs?

I asked on twitter over the weekend and Allan Boyle came back and suggested that if supermarkets could add the donation to my bill charities would probably fare better. I completely agreed with at the time, then I remembered speaking to a retailer about this before and they didnt like the idea at all, as it involved work for them.

So what is the answer?

I actually don’t know…shock horror. I haven’t a clue what could be done, but surely someone has the answer to rid me of my charity bag pack guilt?



18 thoughts on “The Charity Bag Pack – Dilema

  1. One idea – donate online.

    A lot of charities have the capability to donate online through the donate function on their websites. There could be a designated person within the group with laptop at the premises taking instant online donation from laser and credit cards. If the charity doesn’t have this facility a specific fundraising mycharity bag pack event could be set on

    If wii-fii is not available – design and print some business types cards that cold be handed out to the shoppers (or sneaked into their bags!) directing them to go to the charity website or MyCharity webpage.

    Or the customer could leave their phone number and be called back at a convenient time to make the donation over the phone.

    • Thanks for the comment Jenny. I am not sure I would hang on to log into a computer, I cant wait to get out of Tesco when I am there. But perhaps sticking something in my shopping bag would help, a reminder to do something when I get home perhaps. Or maybe consider them for another time?

  2. Conor, you’re like the Queen of England (she doesn’t carry cash either!).

    Do people really not carry cash these days? I suppose less so.

    Did you see this [] initiative in the UK. Every supermarket should introduce this as part of their CSR policies.

    • Hi Ed…thanks for the comparison. I rarely have cash with me, mostly coz I am always broke!

      Thats a great link.

      Thanks for the comment

  3. The transaction charges for a single small donation are tremendously high. Not to mention, many smaller charities just don’t have access to the back-end technology to process technology on mobile scales – particularly outside of Europe.

    I’m sorry the retailer might have to endure a little accounting and math inconvenience to do a good thing, but it’s the most effective way of handling this. Really, what’s the big deal? The retailer isn’t paying a dime and they’re benefiting from public perception of their having done good. Why not spend a little effort to make the transactional process work effectively for the charity. It seems a very small inconvenience to do a lot of good – both for the charity and the retailer benefiting from the perception.


    • Hi Laurie

      Thanks for the comment. I agree retailers should be doing this….but they arent? Is there something we are missing, why arent they? Are we not selling it to them as simple and easy. Maybe they just fob us off with the line “its too much work to do”, when i reality they cant really be bothered. Maybe they should be honest with us if thats the case?

  4. How about branded boxes [small ones] that you pick up and get billed for at the check-out counter and which the charity redeems at the retailer for cash. Charities get a good branding opportunity as well.

    • Thanks for the comment. yeh, could certainly work. I think its back to the problem of the supermarkets not wanting anything tills!

  5. I gave a quick Twitter reply but thought this warranted a more lengthy reply as it’s really interesting, and like the Queen and Conor I rarely have cash on me.

    Ideally, yes every shop should have a donate at check-out option in their tills as part of their CSR policy. It’ll possibly go that way. But at the moment I assume there is resistance because it’s a tiny hassle for them and they might not want to consistently look like they’re ‘annoying’ customers. A good example of this method in action is Argos – at the bottom of all their order slips they have a tick box which allows you to add a small donation to their charity of the year.
    My problem with this is THREE times in a row I ticked the box in Argos and all three times the staff failed to add it to my bill. That’s really not acceptable, but of course the staff have bigger things to worry about. My idea which I passed across to the charity was to incentivise it: the member of staff that gets the most donations through each month wins a voucher or dinner or something. Then they won’t miss it.

    Failing the shop itself getting overly involved there are a few suggestions mentioned in the above comments already. You’re really aiming for the micro-donations so it can be limited and my guess is that it’s going to be difficult to get them to come across to a computer to enter their credit card details and donate. If they’re micro-donations you’re also going to lose a big chunk in processing fees.

    But why are they small one-off donations and why are we programmed in to thinking people we only give a handful of coins at check-out? Why not put some ‘chuggers’ at the end of each check-out to try and engage with the shopper while they’re packing bags, give them an elevator pitch of the charity, and then try to sign up the monthly direct debit. You’ll get few takers, but I know if I put my private site fundraisers in this position the LTV of the donors signed up would be greater than the amount generated by cash collections.
    There might be resistance from the shop about letting chuggers in but a charity could easily sway this. I’d love to test this (if you’re a charity and want to test it let me know! We can publish results here!).

    I still keep coming back to mobile phone donations, but like Laurie has said the costs are outlandishly high in Ireland at the moment. This will change (watch this space!)…slowly. But the benefit of mobile donations is you then have a contact phone number which can be used for further appeals, or better yet conversion to regular monthly giving. Suddenly it’s cost-effective despite the huge mobile costs. Your conversion rate would be low because of the nature of the donors…I’m guessing about 1%, but I don’t know. It would still be worthwhile. Let’s test it!

    Great idea by Ahmer. I saw a similar example (although I can’t find the link) of I think Red Cross opening a shop somewhere in Europe and all they sold were these type of boxes…donations. It worked.

    • Hi Simon,
      I didnt know about the Argos thing, I assume that is for Charity of the Year, so maybe it wouldnt be flexible enough for the bag pack situation. I do think the texting idea is great. I may not have coins, but I always have my phone and would be happy to text and donate. I think its a great idea. Someone else suggested QR codes to donate, I like that idea too

  6. Fast food companies have been doing this. I know McDonalds recently did it with drive thrus at least, where the staff member asked, once they’d taken your full order, of you’d like to ‘donate €2 to X charity?’ I think it was a fencer charity but can’t actually remember. On return for donating you got some Oreo Cookies with your meal. Very little ‘extra work’ involved here for the retailer, in my opinion.

    • Yeh I like these initiatives, normally I think they are for Charity of the Year partnerships, so its harder for the smaller local charity to get a big win here. It does show that it can be done though

  7. “Why not put some ‘chuggers’ at the end of each check-out to try and engage with the shopper while they’re packing bags”
    Jebus Christ Chuggers are odious enough on main streets but in shops as well? Waiting for you at the check-out?!! No multiple would risk the wrath of their customers by inviting this kind of thing.
    Adding donation to your bill is another bad idea. How is this done exactly, does cashier ask shopper within ear shot of others shoppers if they’re happy to leave a % donation on bill? Do customers really want that public scrutiny? Maybe they don’t want to donate, again, for the 12th time this week..
    Don’t think there’s anything wrong with current model. Most shoppers will have change, and the few who don’t will be forgotten about quickly enough. It’s not all about you Conor!

    • Am I right in saying that there was a stage when you had signed up to 6 Direct Debits, coz you didnt know how to say no to people on the street!??

      I dont think people would mind being asked at the till, or like me I could choose to turn to the cashier and say ” could you add 2 euro to my bill for the bag pack” it would then become an option. Do you not think people dont talk about you when you dont put money in the bucket….Ive seen you Eoin, and your father, and have often commented on how neither of you donate to the bag packers! You even once made them take your bags to your car coz you wanted to eat the chicken wings you had bought…and didnt donate. That is a true story!

      I digress…I dont think most shoppers do have change, I do think there is a better way to do this

  8. I know some companies pair up with an organization and ask people if they’d like to round up their final transaction to the whole dollar and donate whatever change is needed to do that to the charity. While it may not be much per person, it’s seen as pointless pocket change to the person donating, and more people are likely to actually donate. For places like grocery stores where they see high traffic, it could make a difference.

    • Yeh, I love the round up idea, there does seem to be some resistance to it though, not sure why…what are we missing?

  9. I just want to get my shopping and not be bothered by anyone else at the check out . It is chaotic and stressful enough as it is ! I dont want anyone standing there watching me as I put in my credit card pin number , or to distract me while I,m making cash transactions .
    I will go to another store if it continues at my local Sainsburys .
    I give already to charities of my choice .

    • Thanks for the comment Sue. I often feel bad, because I never have cash, then there is an offer to pack my bags, if I say yes and give no money I have taken advantage, if I say no, I just look bad! No win for the consumer?

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