3 Resources to Help You Raise Six-Figures with Charity Pinups

Paul R. Jones, the blogger behind one of the first cause marketing blogs introduced his readers to paper icons in a 2007 post.

What are paper icons? They’re slips of paper emblematic of a cause typically placed next to a cash register and sold as impulse items. They’re relatively cheap to produce, even in small print runs. In large runs they might be less than a penny apiece.In North America the typical sales price is $1, although larger dollar amounts have been tried. After the icon is purchased, it’s common to write the name of the purchaser on the icon. During the promotional period the icons are displayed in the window, along a wall, strung above the cash registers, etc.

Paul knows what he’s talking about. As a former fundraiser for Children’s Miracle Network, he helped raise tens of millions of dollars with paper icons.

Paul dislikes the term paper icons. So do I. That’s why I call them charity pinups. Others call them mobiles, paper plaques and scannables.

We can debate the name, but what you can’t debate is the success of pinups as a fundraiser with businesses. “Done right, they are a license to print donations,” said Paul. 

Children’s Miracle Network and their signature paper balloons are just one pinup success story. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Muscular Dystrophy Association and Make-a-Wish have raised tens of millions with pinups.

Even a local pinup program can break six figures. I know this for certain because I did it myself when I worked for nonprofits in Boston!

Here are three sources that will help you join the six-figure club of charity pinup fundraisers.

How One Nonprofit Raises Millions with Charity Pinups

In this episode of CauseTalk Radio, Megan and I talk to Clark Sweat, Chief Revenues 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 program. 

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 and 50 percent of that money comes from just one POS program: charity pinups!

In addition to our interview with Clark, this post has a lot of extra goodies.

  • What is a charity pinup?
  • Why charity pinups are so successful and lucrative?
  • Charity pinup best practices.


In Defense of the Humble - Yet Incredibly Annoying Charity Pinup

In this 2015 post, I take a close look at charity pinups and why they are still the go-to fundraiser for cause marketers.

Still, I examine what will be the replacement fundraiser for charity pinups over the next decade. (Nothing lasts forever, right?!). Here's my criteria:

  • It needs to be as successful and lucrative as charity pinups. We're talking about a fundraiser that can raise hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
  • It needs to tap the money of consumers, not companies. The corporate checkbook is small. The collective wallet of customers is very large.
  • It ideally happens when the customer is "checking out." The combination of customers having their wallets open and being asked by the cashier for a donation is a powerful one-two punch.

Learn more about the future of charity pinups!


60+ Examples of Charity Pinup Fundraisers on Pinterest

Need some charity pinup inspiration? Check out this curated board of 60+ examples of charity pinups.

One of my favorite example is the Lowe's charity pinup program to support the Muscular Dystrophy Association. 

Lowe's stores and customers nationwide rallied together this spring to raise more than $7.5 million during the Muscular Dystrophy Association's annual Shamrock program, reaching the $50 million mark in overall funds raised since first teaming up with MDA in 2001. Wow!


Bonus Post: 3 Proven Ways to Raise More Money with Charity Checkout Fundraisers