The Water Cooler – Asking for Donations While You’re in the Check-Out Line

November 6, 2018 12:00 pm · 43 comments


The “Water Cooler” is a feature on where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it.

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday at noon.

Today’s question:

Many, many stores, including K-Mart & Safeway, ask for donations to certain charities when you’re in the check-out line. Do you think stores should solicit donations while you’re purchasing items?

Talk about it….

Dawg November 6, 2018 at 12:16 PM

No, I do not think stores should ask for donations for anything, they are in the retail business, not the charity business. Knowing their customers have change in their hand, they attempt to intimidate them and make them feel guilty if they don’t give.
Being the cynical skeptic that I am, I don’t have a problem saying no.
I only give to one charity, and that’s the Make a Wish Foundation.

The Mamba November 6, 2018 at 12:21 PM

Absolutely not, and when they do that ridiculous crap like ring bells and yell over the intercom, it doubles my resolve not to give because I don’t want to be at the center of some circus. I give to causes that are close to me and that I trust.

ME November 6, 2018 at 12:23 PM

I don’t mind the ones on the key pad where you can choose to donate small amounts. I kind of enjoy doing that. However, I don’t like when the checker directly asks.

Cellophane November 6, 2018 at 12:30 PM

I don’t give money when asked at check out.

I don’t give money to the homeless who stand outside the door.

Giving is a personal decision.

Everyone is still free to make their own decisions, at least for now.

Pat November 6, 2018 at 1:56 PM

As I exited a grocery store in Martinez during the heat of the summer, while opening a box of ice cream bars I offered one to a homeless man standing nearby. He very gladly accepted and in a gentlemanly way expressed thanks to me. It was such a good feeling I’ll never forget the experience.
I’ve also offered fruit and granola bars in spur-of-the-moment situations. It’s a good feeling to do this. However, I do not give cash. I’d rather not contribute to their smoking or drinking – if they happen to.

Roz November 6, 2018 at 2:39 PM

@ Pat,
Yes, I do the same. At some places I shop, there are a few homeless folks ( seen the same ones) and sometimes I give them food & water.
Also, I keep a bag of ready to eat canned/packaged foods in the car if I’m not food shopping.

Bad Nombre November 6, 2018 at 5:28 PM

I tried to give money to a homeless guy outside Safeway, once. He refused, saying he wanted food. So I took him in with me and bought him a meal.

Pizza Boy November 6, 2018 at 12:43 PM

Next time the cashier asks you for a donation, ask them how much their company takes from your donation to collect your donation. Safeway was around 20% the last time I asked the manager. So for every dollar you give, Safeway was taking .20 cents. It is a profit center for them. Not all your money goes to the cause they are promoting. That in itself is deceptive and should be disclosed when they ask.

idiot hater November 6, 2018 at 1:17 PM

Wow, I did not know that. So won’t be donating again….as a corporation let them donate.

Yahooboi November 6, 2018 at 1:48 PM

In addition to that the company (Safeway, etc) get the tax write off for the donation you made to them for them to give to the actual group. So your really just giving the business free money. Donate yourself to the group and get your own tax write off.

HappyPappy November 6, 2018 at 1:54 PM

Not only do the take from the top, but they claim the donation on their taxes.
Better than robbing banks.

yep November 6, 2018 at 2:10 PM

Just like Go Fund Me….they take a percent of all the money, and charge another fee for every withdrawal by the recipient. It’s a money-making scheme.

Pizza Boy November 6, 2018 at 4:33 PM

I asked the manager at Target if Target Corp matches or kicks in any money on top of what they collected. He laughed and said no way. He hates doing it because too many people get angry at the cashiers for asking.

Lo November 6, 2018 at 12:44 PM

I like it now when it’s on the keypad, no begging and no shaming.

A few years back the woman in front of me at Safeway was asked if she would like to make a donation to prostate cancer research.

“Why the hell would I do that? I don’t even HAVE a prostate!” and grumbled through the rest of the transaction. Those of us in line (as well as the cashier) exchanged glances and stood there aghast. Once she stormed off with her groceries the older woman behind me quietly said “It’s too bad we can’t wish it on her, isn’t it?”

There is a way to say no gracefully and ways to say no that scream “I’m a T-Waffle.”

Kentucky Derby November 6, 2018 at 12:45 PM

It doesn’t bother me if they ask. If I’m not interested, I politely decline. I did get a chuckle from the gentleman who blogged here years ago that contacted corporate office at the grocery store for asking him for a dollar.

S November 6, 2018 at 12:46 PM


Lo November 6, 2018 at 1:25 PM

Thanks for sharing?

ACB128 November 6, 2018 at 1:02 PM

I think its fine to be prompted on the pin pad. As for asking, I feel like that’s a little much. I cant stand the bell ringing or intercom announcement when I make a donation. I do wish all places would get rid of that unless the person says it ok I guess…I dont know. I agree with not liking the people who wait outside store doors. I find that rather annoying. When I am shopping I usually just want to be in and out.

Silva November 6, 2018 at 1:20 PM

It doesn’t bother me. It’s been happening my entire life, and that’s a long time.
It doesn’t cost much to say no. Anyone remember the March of Dimes little cardboard displays that stood on store counters everywhere with dime size slots for donations?

tired of taxes November 6, 2018 at 1:24 PM

I don’t have a problem donating to causes I like/believe in/researched thoroughly.
The problem with donating to an “intermediary” like safeway (or, say, “Mattress Discounters”) is the cut they get _plus_ the tax deduction they can make on your donation instead of you getting the tax deduction benefit.

So Safeway gets it’s 20% cut, the charity itself also only uses a percentage of what they receive for the actual cause; they rest they call bill to “administrative costs”.

So $1 in donation could be as little as just 5-10 cents to the actual cause.

Take the Susan Komen PInk Ribbon Cancer charity:
Only 40% goes to the anything cancer related (research, treatment) and most goes to advertising, fund raising and administrative costs.

Unlike say Feeding America:
with their “99 percent Charitable Commitment rating”

So do your research. When in doubt, hold out.

Concord raised November 7, 2018 at 8:37 PM

I get what you’re saying, but Non profits need to survive too! Paid staff, operations, marketing, etc is all a part of keeping the organization alive.

DD November 6, 2018 at 1:37 PM

Sometimes, depends on the charity (and my mood.)

polarbearmarket November 6, 2018 at 1:42 PM

No! I’m there to buy groceries, not do charity work.

RDS November 6, 2018 at 1:55 PM

“Would you like to save children today?”

The look on their face when I say “Oh god no. They’re on their own” is donation enough.

Smith November 6, 2018 at 2:21 PM

Or, “No, I have them for dnner with a little Chianti.”

Jojo Potato November 6, 2018 at 1:55 PM

I don’t care, always No. This is the modern society that we have created. Everybody is a victim and everyone else is a mark, mark as in someone that can be hit up for money.. I reject that society and take care of myself and real people that mean something to me. Fin.

Reality says... November 6, 2018 at 2:01 PM

Not a fan, but I can tolerate this waaaaaaay more then when HD, Lowes and Osh allowed salespeople to solicit you by asking “how much is your PGE bill?” Uggh, aggravated the sh^t out of me that these stores thought that was OK or wanted by customers who shop their stores. Glad to see that has passed.

I have no problem saying no @ Safeway, but it is along the same vein as the others mentioned above. My wife gives to the Salvation Army guys all the time during the holiday on the way out/in to some stores. Again, I’m not a fan of doing this but when my wife was a child she recalls getting presents from them when her family was having a hardship. I’ve known my wife for 28 years, she never passes up the pot and bell, and I support her desire to give to SA every year as her small way of helping out a kid who may be in the situation she was once in.

JazzMan November 6, 2018 at 2:03 PM

Doesn’t bother me. I can either say yes or no.

Smith November 6, 2018 at 2:12 PM

They can ask all they want, but there are only certain ones I have ever given to, and here is a good place to tesearch their reliability and trustworthiness.

Mr. Wilson November 6, 2018 at 2:19 PM

Personally I don’t have a problem saying no when asked but I still think it’s inappropriate. Although I have no problem with the keypad option. And I don’t like people standing at the entrance of the store, it’s both uncomfortable and depressing.
It’s a changing world and as federal, state and local govt’s continue to go bankrupt from mismanagement and corruption I believe as time goes on we will unfortunately have to rely more and more on private citizens, charities, churches etc… for support to the poor and underprivileged.

avacado dan November 6, 2018 at 2:32 PM

I don’t care, I just hate it when I hear someone give their reasoning to the cashier on why they are saying no. WAKE UP PEOPLE! The cashier doesn’t give a crap and is not judging you. Just say nope! The line will move quicker.

Just a voice November 8, 2018 at 1:21 PM

Lines move faster if not asked on keypad either.

Mr pink November 6, 2018 at 3:22 PM

If it’s the pin pad thing I don’t care. I can skip it. It’s rare that the checkout clerk asks if I want to donate. What irks me more are the kids hitting me up to buy popcorn, cookie’s, coupon cards, etc. when I enter and leave the store. Yeah, I know, I’m a curmudgeon. But seriously, it is annoying.

94519 November 6, 2018 at 3:35 PM

I feel I donate and subsidise a business every time I shop at Safeway; their high pricrs are reflective of the stealing that hoes on in their stores. People grabbing and running with items. Or the couple at the Dekinger store that pushed the cart of items out to a waiting car and threw the otems in the car.

Dorothy November 6, 2018 at 3:43 PM

There are sometimes a jar or box or something by the register for donations to whatever. You can donate or not as you wish. But I don’t think they should ask.

America November 6, 2018 at 3:50 PM

No they should not. If they want to donate they can do it with their own money. Because when they are asking the public and you donate , you don’t get to deduct it from your taxes, but they do. You give them money and they get a tax deduction with your money and they havent contributed a penny. I always say no.

Bad Nombre November 6, 2018 at 5:26 PM

At grocery stores, generally no.

At Cabela’s I don’t mind rounding up to donate to conservation or online rounding up to donate to the NRA.

Amo November 6, 2018 at 8:46 PM

NRA …Asking for donations ??
NRA has a lot of nerve asking for money.

Wage Slave November 7, 2018 at 10:10 AM

Where do you think the NRA gets its funds? Despite the fear and smear campaign against them by the media, they are mostly funded by donations and dues from private individuals who genuinely believe in their second amendment rights and are willing to put their money where their mouth is. No different than the ACLU or any other civil rights group.

The way they have been vilified by the media left has been astounding in the levels of misinformation and outright lies they are willing to tell. I have my issues with the way they do business sometimes, but they aren’t simply some corporate funded lobby group with no ethical values as they have been portrayed.

BOB November 6, 2018 at 9:01 PM

I did not know that Safeway takes a 20 % handling free, but it does not surprise me. That they take credit for the tax write off is just what I thought. I just say “no thank you” because I know the worker has to ask as part of their job. I donate to my own charities and take my own tax deduction. I also only give to groups that apply most of the money to their cause, not overhead or fundraising.

Gititogether November 6, 2018 at 10:22 PM

I appreciate that TJ’s puts up signs advising customers that beggars are not endorsed and they may be ignored …guilt-free. If Safeway et al, truly cared about their customers, they would have a (1-time) opt out option that stopped all future begging at the POS.

Jo Ann H November 6, 2018 at 11:27 PM

No, I give my donations to certain groups and also I do not like when someone outside a store is asking for donations and I say no. You get the third degree. A lot of times a person will say they are collecting for servicemen and I just don’t believe it is not up to a store to ask us to donate to a cause the store is promoting.

anon November 7, 2018 at 6:46 AM

I donate directly to the organizations, not via retail establishments. It doesn’t bother me if they ask, because I ignore it. I’ve learned that when you give through these businesses, they use it as a tax break.

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