Changing Attitudes Toward Checkout Charity

  •  Brenda Massetti    
  •  Iris Mohr    
  •  Mariellen Murphy-Holahan    


Retailers in the U.S. are increasingly asking customers to donate to charity at their sales registers. This practice, known as Checkout Charity, is a form of Cause-Related Marketing (CRM) providing many benefits to retailers (Giebelhausen, Lawrence, Chun, & Hsu, 2017) and raising billions of dollars for charities (Coleman & Peasley, 2015). Despite the perceived goodwill of this retail practice, research suggests an imbalance between retailers and consumers, as Checkout Charity offers fewer benefits to customers than traditional CRM (Krishna, 2011; Owens, 2016). Using equity theory’s impact on prosocial behavior (Ross & Kapitan, 2018), this paper explores whether customers perceive an imbalance in the Checkout Charity process. Open-ended survey results show that customers are aware of Checkout Charity’s drawbacks and hold mostly negative sentiments toward the practice. Attitudinal survey results show that most customers prefer donating elsewhere and not being asked to donate at checkout. However, some are happy with the process. A regression analysis of factors known to influence charitable giving found that those who donate frequently have a relatively more positive attitude toward Checkout Charity. Research implications and ways retailers might use the practice to build deeper customer relationships are discussed.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1918-719X
  • ISSN(Online): 1918-7203
  • Started: 2009
  • Frequency: quarterly

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