By John Lawrence
Do you find it annoying to be hit up for a donation every time you make a purchase? You’re out buying groceries or cat food or mouthwash and you get asked to make a donation to some charity. “Would you like to contribute a dollar to help homeless dogs?”, the check out person asks. I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you reduce my total by $1.00 and contribute that to charity? Do you think Walgreen’s or Petco could afford that? Give me a dollar off my freakin’ bill. I just scraped enough money together to make sure our cat is adequately fed and doesn’t go homeless.
I really think I am capable of making my own decisions about what charities I want to donate to. I don’t want to be prompted every time I buy something. And is Walgreen’s CEO who made over $13 million in 2013 contributing anything in this campaign? Heck no, and neither are the Board of Directors who make tons of money in stock grants for attending a few meetings per year.
“If there’s a bunch of people in line behind me and the cashier asks me to make a donation, it makes me feel so trapped and judged, especially if it’s for the troops,” said Jennie Blackburn, who frequently gets solicited at Walgreens and Publix. “It’s a lot of pressure.”
Joe Loveland says “It feels like the glaring checkout person is judging while customers are craning their necks to see what kind of sociopath would deny hope to the homeless puppies, cancer battlers or wounded warriors.” What the other customers don’t know is that the person not contributing at the check out line might prefer to contribute to another charity and would prefer his or her dollars to go there.
Let’s have matching contributions from the CEO and Board of Directors and then I might feel better about contributing something. But they take nothing out of corporate profits to contribute to charity. “CVS and Walgreens, which owns the Duane Reade drug stores in metropolitan New York, said that they pick up the administrative costs of the campaign and send every dollar donated to the charity. The companies said they don’t typically match consumers’ contributions …”
Are they just dunning their customers while they use their customers’ charitable contributions as a tax write off? Do I really have to get badgered every time I go to Walgreen’s? Where’s the “no hassle” check out line? Target has a sign outside that says “No Soliciting.” It’s supposed to guarantee a “hassle free shopping experience”. Well then, why do they hassle you inside the store?
According to CBS San Francisco, Donating At The Checkout Counter, Where Does The Money Go?:
Whole Foods Market and Petco are among the many companies that collect donations at the checkout counter. At Petco, donations all go through the Petco Foundation,which keeps less than 10 percent for administrative overhead. The rest helps thousands of local animal groups like Gimme Shelter, which rescues abandoned cats.
“We have great success with our customers. They are open hearted, they want to give, they want to help animals in the community,” said Lori Morton Feazell, Petco’s Director of Animal Care and Education.
Is Petco or Walgreen’s Matching Their Customers’ Contributions?
So Petco is taking 10% of customers’ charitable donations to pay some administrator? They can’t even contribute that? Are they giving anything out of their considerable profits or is it just their customers they’re trying to shame into giving?
And whether the customer is rich or poor, they all get hit up the same. I’m for charitable giving for those well enough off to do it, but I don’t think poor people who need the money for their basic expenses should be donating to charity. Petco doesn’t care. They’re equal opportunity dunners.
I’ll state it emphatically. Poor people and those with less than six months expenses in savings should not contribute to charity. Charity begins at home. Do you have enough in savings to support yourself in retirement? Then you have no business contributing to charity. Contribute to your own retirement account or savings account instead or you may end up being a charity case yourself.
Are your kids’ financial futures secure? If not, you might end up being their charitable contributor of last resort. Philanthropy i.e. charitable contributing is something that the rich should feel obligated to participate in, but dunning the poor and lower middle class at Petco and Walgreen’s is a cynical exercise to make the corporations look good at the expense of people who should not for the most part be contributing to charity.
Rich people should be doing their own research to see what charities are worthy of contributions, but often they are only interested in legacy contributions i.e. something that they can get their name on for posterity. If the charity is keeping more than 20% of contributions for administration, advertising or fundraising, you are participating in a scam by contributing to them .
For instance, Paralyzed Veterans of America spends almost 70% of contributions on administrative and fundraising expenses. They spend only 32.5% of donations to actually help paralyzed veterans. You be the judge.
The comedian, Lenny Bruce, went door to door wearing a cleric’s collar asking for donations to some charity that he made up. Most of the money went right in Lenny’s pocket, but he did keep his nose clean with the IRS by writing a small check to the purported victims he was supposedly trying to help. Check out a charity with a website such as Charity Watch which rates charities A to F before donating.
What About CEOs Who Make Millions Without Matching Customer Contributions?
San Diego based Petco’s CEO is James M. Myers. He’s donated money to his alma mater, John Carroll University, but to homeless pets? I don’t think so. The website ceopaycut.org contacted CEOs including Mr. Myers asking them to pledge to take a pay cut in order to spread the wealth. “Jim” Myers was one of the CEOs contacted. His email is email@example.com. So far it’s been 3 years and there has been no response from Mr. Jim Myers.
But he’s just typical of most. None of the others contacted has responded either. Mr. Myers is also on the Board of Directors of Jack in the Box Corporation from which he has received a bunch of generous stock grants. But youth wants to know: has “Jim” matched his customers’ contributions to help homeless pets? I doubt it. If he had, we’d hear about it.
Petco’s Jim Myers, while manipulating customers into donating for homeless pets, has also been responsible for sickening pets that do have a home. In January 2015 Petco pulled Chinese made cat and dog treats off their shelves after reports that they had sickened their customers’ pets. They also have stopped selling a boozy treat meant to calm dogs as of January. They have taken the Good Dog Pet Calming Supplement off their shelves after some protested over the alcohol content of the product. The product contains an astonishing 13 percent alcohol.
According to Daily Mail.com:
The ASPCA has previously warned against the ingestion of alcohol by animals, saying even the smallest amount can be fatal.
This comes just two weeks after the San Diego-based company removed all Chinese-made dog and cat treats from its website and stores over fears they were linked to 1,000 dog deaths since 2007 – and an unknown number of animal illnesses.
The illnesses and deaths were linked to a number of treats, including chicken, duck or sweet potato jerky.
‘We know some pet parents are wary of dog and cat treats made in China, especially Chicken Jerky products, and we’ve heard their concern,’ said Petco CEO Jim Myers in a statement last May.
As of 2009, Jim was making over $800,000 in salary and bonus not including stock options. His nonvested stock options were valued at $734,550. This doesn’t count all the stock granted due to his position on the Board of Jack in the Box.
But how much has Jim given for the sake of homeless pets? For all I know he may be using his customers’ charitable contributions as a tax write off for Petco. There is no stated policy in this regard. I would feel better if customers’ donations were matched by those of CEOs and owners.
Walgreen’s at least, unlike Petco, donates 100% of customer donations to charity. They absorb the administrative costs themselves. Many companies match their employees’ gifts to charity. Not Walgreen’s. Let alone customer donations. No way they’re matching them. They have no problem dunning employees and customers, but mum is the word regarding corporate profits.
Gregory D. Wasson President and Chief Executive of Walgreen’s until 2014 made $13,632,741 for fiscal year 2013. He is also a Director of Verizon. How much did he donate to match his customers’ charitable donations? After his departure Stefano Pessina took over as CEO. Walgreen’s has other fish to fry than worrying about matching their customers’ charitable donations.
Recently they were considering moving their corporate headquarters to Switzerland to avoid paying US taxes. Barry Rosenstein, founder and managing partner of New York-based hedge fund Jana Partners pushed for Walgreen’s to move its headquarters to Europe to slash its tax bill, an idea that Walgreen’s backed away from in August following a firestorm of public controversy and congressional backlash.
Walgreen’s, in addition to bilking its customers out of charitable contributions, also lets its employees contribute to charity while not making any matching charitable contributions itself:
The Charity Choice program allows Walgreens employees to donate to four organizations aimed at improving health and wellness — Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and United Way. Each pay period, employees elect the amount they choose to donate.
These corporations are all for their customers and employees contributing to charity while neglecting to do so themselves. I for one will contribute to the charity of my choice myself without using some noncontributing corporation as a middleman. I don’t need any prompting from some commercial profit making enterprise, thank you.
If you do want to donate at the check out line, make sure that your sales receipt shows the amount. That’s the only way you will be able to use it as a deduction at tax time. The least they could do after tracking each transaction with their “points” program is to provide you with a year end print out of all the charitable donations you’ve made. But I guess that is asking too much. It might knock a few dollars off of corporate profits for them to do that.
“Would you like to donate to prostate cancer?” “No I’m against cancer”
bob dorn says
LBJ, our 36th President once said something like, “It’s not hard to do the right thing; the hard part is knowing what’s the right thing to do.”
Morty Geist says
You should be writing for the NYTimes!
Natalia Evans says
Making millions each year but can match the contributions of some customers willing to give a dollar at checkout? And taking some of those charitable gifts for yourself? Absolutely ridiculous, as a volunteer at withcauses.org i find it appauling that these CEOs cant take it upon themselves to give what even the most average citizen can.
cynara velazquez says
I may be wrong, but I always assumed that corporations do this “round up” donation collection in order to take advantage of the tax breaks they incur from the donations. I want to support charities that I care about, but I have no interest in giving Petco, Target, or any other major corporation a tax break. That’s less tax money that flows to government programs that support all of us, and I’d much rather that the government had the money provided programs that lifted people out of poverty than donating my cents to homeless shelters and food banks while giving a corporation an excuse not to pay taxes. This isn’t to say that I don’t donate to food banks and homeless shelters, I do, but through my own private donations – then, I get the tax benefit, and I get to choose the exact charity I would like to support.
Ken Shwedel says
Interesting about round up campaings in the U.S. Maybe you should doe what we do in Mexico.
Here in Mexico it really depends on how the campaign in is put together and the arrangements with the company. The Fundación Mexicana para Desarrollo Rural does a round up campaign each year for a couple of months with Comercial Mexicano. It is specifically stated that they can not used the round up for tax deductions. They also match what is collected.
I am sick and tired of stores continually asking for donations. It puts all the customers “on the spot”. I agree that there should be the no hassle check out line. One time at Sears in Tucson there were so many questions, offers, requests for contributions that I finally moaned in misery, ” Can’t I just pay you and leave, PLEASE!”
Dave Rice says
I’m usually a sucker for the dollar add or the “round up” your change ploy…what chaps my ass is when grocery stores ask me to buy a whole bag of their product priced at $10-15 to donate, and I’m buying just $40 worth of fruits and vegetables that will constitute 2/3 of my family’s food for the week. I see a new response coming:
“If (insert store name) was matching my donation and advertising that fact, sure I’ll donate. If not, maybe they’ll consider that and I’ll consider giving next time.”
Really a good piece and I have felt the same way , I will add Henry’s to that As well can’t stand being asked if I would like to donate a bag of groceries
Not only why they don’t do it themselves , go ahead and show us you’re dumpster Full of thrown out unsold food , you hypocrites!
John Lawrence says
The amount of food that is thrown out by supermarkets is indeed staggering. If only they would donate all the food they throw out, there would be no more need for donations. No one would go hungry.