Ep107: How One Nonprofit Raises Millions with Charity Pinups

children's miracle network

Today on CauseTalk Radio, Megan and I talk to Clark Sweat, Chief Corporate Partnership Officer
at Children's Miracle Network (CMN). Clark has had two tours of duties with CMN. Between his time at CMN, Clark spent four years at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital running its signature Thanks and Giving campaign. 

clark sweat

Today, Clark is back at CMN overseeing 85 corporate partnerships that raised $205 million in 2014. Ninety percent of those dollars come from point-of-sale programs (charity pinups, round-ups, register programs, etc.). And 50 percent of that money comes from just one POS program: charity pinups!

The history and numbers behind CMN's charity pinup program are impressive! 

  • CMN has one of the largest and oldest pinup programs in the country.
  • CMN prints 75 million pinups that are shipped to 65,000 retail locations.
  • CMN prints 5,000 versions of their pinup, which are customized for partners.

What is a Charity Pinup?

cause marketing pinup

1. A charity pinup - sometimes called a paper plaque, paper icon, scannable, or mobile - is sold in restaurants, department stores, supermarkets and any other business that has customers and a register. Most charity pinups sell for between $1 and $5. 

Most charity pinups aren’t that big, just several inches tall and wide. They can be any shape or die cut to look like a teddy bear, shamrock, heart, or a balloon like CMN's charity pinup. The paper used for charity pinups is usually inexpensive, and with good reason as just about all charity pinups will end up in the trash at the end of a program.

childrens miracle network

Most charity pinups cost anywhere from a few cents to a dime apiece to produce. The most I ever paid for a charity pinup was 18 cents apiece, but it was die cut, four-color, large, perforated, etc. Yours will probably be cheaper. As always, it depends on your designer, printer and your willingness to shop around and negotiate.

2. The back of the charity pinup usually includes additional information on the nonprofit like its mission statement.

3. Most charity pinups include a barcode that can be scanned at the register. This makes it much easier for cashiers to process the donation and for businesses to report the donation to the nonprofit. When I began my career in the nonprofit world in the early 1990’s, cashiers used to keep donations in a separate envelope next to the register. It wasn’t the best or safest way to handle all that cash! If a business won’t or can’t use a barcode (e.g. a bakery, coffee shop) a good option is to program a button on the register to record the donation.

4. Most charity pinups have the nonprofit’s logo on the front with some kind of tagline. In the case of CMN, the busines partner's logo is featured.

5. Most charity pinups have a place on the front where the donor can write his or her name.  It’s not necessary, but it does make the charity pinup a bit more personal. And when displayed, a wall pinups can leave a powerful impression!

charity pinups

Why Charity PInups are so Successful and Lucrative

coupon pinup

Charity Pinups are recession proof. During the dark days of the 2008 - 09 recession, CMN programs continued to raise millions by asking people for a dollar at a time.

Charity Pinups are lucrative. CMN raised $60 million in just six weeks at Walmart stores! Nationally, the top 60 point-of-sale programs collectively raised nearly $360 million in 2012.

Charity Pinups are for everyone. Research done by CMN showed that some of the poorest neighborhoods in America contributed the most to charity pinup programs.

Charity Pinup Best Practices

The ask is key. The most successful charity pinup programs involve an ask from the cashier: "Would you like to donate a dollar to...."

Consumers like to give locally. While CMN is a national brand, the ask at the register is for a local hospital that consumers recognize. For example, here in my hometown of Boston, the ask at the register is for Boston's Children's Hospital.

Success begins with education. CMN works for months behind the scenes educating cashiers and managers about CMN's groundbreaking work.

Coupons work. Consumers love two things: to donate to good causes and to save money! Combine the two with a charity pinup coupon. 

50+ Examples of Charity Pinup Fundraisers