Food Lion Uses Coupons to Raise Funds & Reward Donors

Photo by Hobbies on a Budget

For the past 22 years, Food Lion has been supporting Easter Seals at hundreds of locations in the mid- and south-Atlantic states. The inaugural program was a modest one in its North Carolina stores. It raised $20,000. Twenty-one years later, Food Lion has raised $33 million for Easter Seals.

This year, now through March 12th, Food Lion is selling a coupon book to support Easter Seals. For a $1 donation, shoppers receive $9.50 in savings from Kraft and P&G.

Food Lion supports the month-long coupon book fundraiser with several percentage of sales programs that occur simultaneously. For every 24-pack of Food Lion water purchased during the campaign, Easter Seals receives a 25-cent donation up to $250,000. Specially marked General Mills cereal box purchases generate a 15-cent donation up to $50,000. Unilever, makers of Breyers Ice Cream, is promoting their donation of $10,000 on specially marked cartons of vanilla ice cream.

Food Lion’s goal is to raise $4.5 million in 2013.

I’m a big fan of using coupons at the register. They have an immediate value when cashiers are asking shoppers to support our cause.

“Would you like to donate a dollar to help sick kids? As a thank you, you’ll receive ten dollars in savings.”

It’s a great one-two punch! But there are other good reasons to use coupons.

1. Coupons open the door to cross-promotional partners.

When you use coupons you can cross-promote partners, which means their coupon is offered to consumers in other businesses as part of the fundraiser. Businesses value the exposure to new customers.

2. Coupons are hot!

Because of the recession, coupon use has surged 35% since 2008, according to Inmar, a coupon clearinghouse. Consumers redeemed a whopping 3.5 billion coupons last year. Couponing has gotten so big “couponers”–as they like to call themselves–now have their own show, the TLC reality series Extreme Couponing. A coupon book fundraiser gives consumers what they want, savings on their favorite products.

3. Coupons are overwhelmingly clipped, not downloaded.

The majority of coupons still come from print inserts–although online coupon offers are growing fast. If you think handing out coupons to seniors, think again. The National Newspaper Network released a report in 2011 that showed consumers ages 25 to 34 are more likely to use newspaper coupons. These Millennial couponers are also strong supporters of businesses that support good causes. Couponing and causes are a perfect match!

4. Coupons can prove that a program is working.

Coupon redemptions during or after a coupon book fundraiser is a metric for tracking the success of your program. A partner I worked with was surprised when a coupon book fundraiser we executed brought in 1,100 coupon-bearing customers from co-marketing partners that were also selling the book.

Coupons are popular with shoppers, clipped not downloaded, are a great metric for success and can open the door to additional retail partners. Why wouldn’t you want to include them in your next retail fundraiser?