Shopping for A Cause This Month? Don’t Get Scrooged.

red-kettle cooke

Papa John’s Pizza is doing a great thing this holiday season. They’ve created a Red-Kettle Cookie to benefit The Salvation Army. Through December 28th, Papa John’s is donating 50 cents per cookie sold, up to $300,000, to support The Salvation Army’s programs, including food, shelter, addiction recovery assistance, after-school programs and many other services for the needy.

This isn’t the first time Papa John’s has supported The Salvation Army. Over the past two years, the fourth largest pizza delivery company in the country has raised $50,000 in support of The Salvation Army with an Online Red Kettle, and employees have volunteered with the organization.

There are many Christmas-related fundraisers this December, but what I admire about this promotion is its clear disclosure of what the program is, who’s benefiting and how much the nonprofit will receive. Sounds simple, right? But many cause-related fundraisers don’t include this basic information.

Tell businesses you appreciate their support of charities this holiday season. But Santa (and you) won’t approve of unclear or misleading promotions that don’t contain the following:

1. A clear description of the promotion. Which charity is benefiting from the program, how much will they receive, what consumers must do to trigger the donation and the minimum donation, if there is one, and a start and end date for the promotion.

2. Disclosure of how much is being donated. Suggest they include a “donation label” with this information.

3. Tell consumers what they need to know. Is the company making a flat donation instead of donation for each sale? Does the campaign have a cap, a maximum the business will donate?

4. Tell the public how much was raised. Use offline and online media to let people know how much each fundraiser raised.

caution POS

My friend and cause marketing colleague David Hessekiel, President of the Cause Marketing Forum, nicely summarizes what you need to do:

“Remember to concisely and specifically communicate the impact of that consumer action or donation in your cause messaging. Insist that your partners do the same.”

Following these guidelines will ensure you stay on Santa’s “Nice” list. It will also keep consumers focused on raising money for your organization, instead of instilling doubt on your intentions.

Joe Waters blogs at