With over 300 locations nationwide, you’ve probably shopped at Whole Foods, a chain of natural and organic food supermarkets based in Austin.
Register Programs are as common to the Whole Foods checkout line as gum and candy are at other supermarket checkouts. Every month, a different local cause is featured and shoppers can donate $2 or $5. The nonprofit of the month is promoted at the register with signage on the credit card terminal.
For example, shoppers can support The Autism Education Center by choosing the $2 or $5 card, which are affixed to the sign with Velcro. The cashier rings in the donation, and returns the card to the sign for the next customer in line.
Most of Whole Foods’ register programs are passive, which means the cashier won’t ask the consumer to give. The shopper decides, and adds the donation to her bill.
Whole Foods register programs are popular with nonprofits––and for good reason. The YMCA in my town participated in a Whole Foods register program at just one location, and raised $1,000. Multiply this across the country, and Whole Foods raises a lot of money for charity with register programs.
Whole Foods isn’t the only business using register programs to raise money for nonprofits. Two weeks after the Boston Marathon bombing, register programs have been very popular with Massachusetts businesses. These programs are an easy way for customers to support the victims. You can check out several examples of these programs on my blog.
There are several ways businesses can process a donation at the register.
It’s hard to imagine a time when retailers didn’t have barcodes to scan and track products. Thankfully, they make processing and tracking donations a snap. Working with your business partner to produce a barcode isn’t complicated, but timing is important. Be sure you have agreed on barcode before anything is printed or distributed to the business partner.
If your business partner is a restaurant, bar, or bakery, they can dedicate a button on the register for the donation. Work with the business to educate cashiers on where the button is on the point-of-sale system, and what happens when they press it.
Sometimes cashiers use purchase codes to process the donation. As with barcodes and a register button, the code processes the donation, and adds it to the shopper’s receipt along with the other items purchased.
Smaller businesses without barcodes or a modern register can use a separate envelope near the register for donations. It’s important to keep donations separate from purchases. For security and tracking purposes, it’s not the best option. You can make the process more secure by reviewing the procedure with employees and scheduling frequent pickups.
Has your nonprofit tried a register program before? How successful was it and how did the business track donations?