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How to Help Not Hype Your Gifts to Charity

Helping the Hungry or Helping Themselves?

As a frequent shopper at Von’s, I recently noticed a dedicated table set up with grocery bags under a banner proclaiming “Help Us End Hunger.” The idea is that I should purchase a bag of groceries and it will be delivered to help needy families. What’s the rub? I am paying for the groceries – what part is Von’s doing? It feels as if this promotion is helping the grocery chain more than helping the hungry: my sale boosts its store sales. Wouldn’t it be better if I outright donated cash to Feeding America or another worthy cause? And I would like to know exactly whatVon’s is doing or donating? The paper bags!

What’s the Lesson Here? Make sure your charitable donation is genuine versus one that is masquerading as a marketing trick. If Von’s explained in the signage that it is matching donations, delivering these groceries, or making any other in-kind contribution, I would feel better about my donation.  We know that Americans are more likely to do business with philanthropic companies – just make sure you inform us of the truth regarding your efforts. Otherwise, it seems as if you are pulling our heart strings and purse strings to get your register to ring.

A company that walks the talk in its philanthropic efforts is Target. This retailer’s corporate by-laws state it must give 5 percent of its pre-tax profits to charity.  In fact, it gives away about $3 million per week to the communities in which it operates. Now, here’s a company that hits the bulls-eye!

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