Mmmm....Donuts....for a Cause

Purple with a Purpose donut

To raise awareness and money for the Massachusetts/New Hampshire chapter of the Alzheimer's Association during World Alzheimer’s Month, Dunkin Donuts is going Purple with a Purpose. All this week, Dunkin’ Donuts customers can buy the Purple with a Purpose Donut, a vanilla-frosted donut topped with purple sprinkles. While Dunkin is only saying that a portion of purple donut sales this week will support ALS, the donut chain has donated $70,000 since 2009.

Update 9/18: $0.33 cents of each Purple with a Purpose donut will be donated.

Related Pinterest Board: #FWB - Percentage of Sales

Cuppy and Alzheimer's Table (1)

Pop-Up Register Programs Support Boston Bombing Victims

Register programs are similar to pinups in one important way and different in two distinctive ways. First, they are similar in that they fall under the umbrella of point-of-sale (POS). For me, POS cause marketing is anything that happens at a business' register that raises money for a nonprofit. In addition to register and pinup programs, I would put round-up programs and donations boxes under the point-of-sale umbrella.

Register programs differ from pinups in that they are generally passive cause marketing - which means there is no ask from the cashier (e.g. "Would you like to donate a dollar to the One Fund Boston?"). Beyond seeing the signage at the register - or on the credit card terminal when they swipe their card - the customer acts on their own without any prompt from the cashier. Pinups also involve some type of paper icon that shoppers sign and is then displayed in the store.

You'll find a lot of examples of pinups and register programs (and donation boxes) on my point-of-sale board on Pinterest.

Working with a business' point-of-sale system (i.e. In this case the actual register a business uses to process sales), you can quickly set up a register program without going through the work of designing, printing and shipping pinups.

And that's just what we saw in the days and week after the bombing here in Boston. Here are several examples of register programs.

This one is from Dunkin Donuts. There was no ask from the cashier.

I saw this one at Shaw's/Star supermarkets. This company - one of the larger supermarket chains in New England - made a generous donation to the victims and offered to match donations up to $100,000.

photo 3
photo 3

The manager at my local Shaw's, Neil Coutu, kindly let me photograph the instructions for cashiers. While I wasn't asked to support the victims, employees are encouraged to ask customers to give. Also, note how they processed payment with a code. Other businesses will use a barcode or designate a button on the register for the transaction.

I got this ask from CVS Pharmacy after I swiped my credit card. The first time, it only appeared for a second before disappearing. The second time I shopped at CVS I had to make a donation (or choose NO) before proceeding. I've said before that if the cashier isn't asking you to give this credit card ask that requires a response may be the second best thing.

Register programs have always been popular at Whole Foods. I see a different one every month. I've never been asked to give, and this register sign states that shoppers should tell the cashier how they would like to donate.

The big questions with register programs, including this one, is how much will they raise? Will Shaw's even get close to matching $100,000 in donations from shoppers? I suspect not.

We know that compared to active cause marketing - when the cashier asks the customer to donate - there's a large gap in how much is raised. Without a verbal request, most customers won't give.

Still, these register programs will raise some money. They're also useful in that they tell consumers what the company is doing in the aftermath of the tragedy. Shaw's is smart in promoting its donation, and encouraging others to make theirs, which they'll match.

Even if shoppers don't donate they'll leave knowing Shaw's did.

What Does and Doesn't Work at the Register

dd sign.jpg
dd sign.jpg

I ran across this register sign at my local Dunkin Donuts yesterday when I was picking up some donuts for the kids.

The problem with register signs is they, well, just sit there. The cashier was nice enough, but never asked me to donate a dollar or even mentioned the program.

So, I didn't give.

Register signs, posters, banners, buttons are all nice, but if the cashier isn't asking the question, "Would you like to donate a dollar to ____________?" these other things really don't matter. Shoppers miss them or see right through them because they are looking at you!

A Hole in Dunkin Donuts' Cause Marketing

I snapped this picture yesterday at Dunkin Donuts, which is about 100 yards from my office (Grateful, but why can't it be a Starbucks? ;)). On September 21, Dunkin is executing a classic form of cause promotion with their Purple With A Purpose campaign.

To show their support for World Alzheimer's Day on Tuesday, 1,100 Dunkin locations across Eastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire will be offering Purple With A Purpose donuts.

And Dunkin is adding even more dough by contributing $10,000 from its foundation to the Alzheimer's Association (AA).

This is a nice promotion for AA, and Dunkin is a generous community partner.

But for me this is a promotion of last resort--day old donuts if you will--and one reason why I don't include cause promotion in my definition of cause marketing.

The reason is simple: there's no money in it.

While I've heard that donut sales are only a fraction of Dunkin's total revenues--coffee leads the pack--a percentage of sales program involving doughy treats for just a week or two at 1,100 Dunkin stores would raise a lot more than $10,000 and get more promotion if employees were engaged in the ask.

Another missed opportunity is with AA's efforts--as stated on its homepage--to reach 1,500 Facebook likes by September 21st. Dunkin could have helped with a Facebook coupon for a free donut in exchange for a like on the AA Facebook page. That would have been a great promotion for Dunkin stores!

Purple With A Purpose is a good cause promotion. But it will be a flash in the pan compared to a transactional campaign that would raise lots of dough. It also comes up short compared to a campaign that has a connection with Facebook.

At least with Facebook you have the chance gain a friend that might stay longer than it takes for him or her to eat a donut.