Domino's Pizza pledges $174 million to St. Jude, bets big on 'checkout charity'

Would you like to donate to charity at checkout?

The world's best-selling pizza chain is finding it very easy to raise large sums of money for charity.

Domino's Pizza recently pledged to donate $174 million over the next 10 years to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and the funds will be used over the years to encourage customers to donate the difference between their total purchase price and the next highest dollar amount. We hope to benefit from this roundup campaign. The pizza chain has already raised more than $126 million this way over the past 20 years for his Tennessee-based hospital fundraising organization, ALSAC.

Domino's Pizza is the latest and greatest success story of 'checkout charity'. According to the professional organization Engage for Good, this fundraising tool is among the highest-grossing programs in 2022, raising 24% more money than in 2020, bringing the total to $749 million. Reached.

That staying power has franchisees hopeful that consumers will keep shelling out their dime despite the shift to online shopping, economic headwinds and concerns that frequent solicitations will cause fatigue. Meanwhile, some retailers are crystallizing partnerships that were formed only after the 2020 racial justice crisis pushed corporate citizenship to the forefront of business conduct.

Research shows that asking customers to round up is generally more effective than requesting a fixed amount, even if the totals are the same. The reason for this, according to a paper published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, is that framing makes it less painful to part with money.

“The pain was reduced,” said Katie Kelting, a marketing professor at Saint Louis University who led the research team.

The timing of an appeal introduces several other psychologically influential factors, said Ike Silver, a marketing professor at Northwestern University. Buyers tend to recognize their purchases in whole numbers anyway. For example, a $24.75 bill would be recorded as $25.

Additionally, the act of donating becomes “a little more mindless,” Silver said. Shoppers rushing through the checkout line don't have much time to think of reasons to object to a donation.

I don't have time to think

“They're taking advantage of the inertia of just spending money and buying without really thinking about it,” Silver said.

Proponents of this strategy believe that it has a low barrier to entry, an approachable form of giving, and requires potential donors to engage with them every day. This practice is so common that shoppers' cumulative gifts are an important source of funding in some publishing sectors.

PetSmart Charities reports that more than 80 percent of cash donations are made through the PIN pad at checkout and is considered the largest grant maker to animal welfare causes. The pet superstore, which has had a continuous PIN pad donation program for 20 years, asks customers to donate a fixed amount starting at $2.

This funding will support activities directly related to pets, such as improving access to veterinary care and animal evacuation services during natural disasters. PetSmart His Charities Chairman Amy Gilbreth says that genuine connection is one of the reasons he believes his average donation is just under $3, and by the end of this year his donations will be It is expected to reach up to $40 million.

Without a tightly aligned mission, Gilbreth predicts it will be a bit harder to get customers to donate.

“When people say, 'I came shopping at PetSmart. I love pets, and if you donate to PetSmart charities, I'll support pets in need of families,' people say yes.” It's much easier to support your pet in a different way,” she said.

In fact, Mr Kelting said the alignment between charities and sellers was “huge”. Researchers say customers may perceive in-store solicitation as a violation of their social contract with a company, but partnerships between like-minded organizations are viewed more positively.

REI Co-op, a specialty retailer of outdoor clothing and supplies, launched a member-supported public charity in 2021 to help make outdoor spaces more inclusive. The goal was to put more resources into surrounding communities as they emerge from COVID-19 shutdowns.

At our 185 U.S. locations, sales associates often strike up personal conversations with buyers about their upcoming travels. Squire Simpson, director of the REI Cooperative Action Fund, said this unique connection with customers who are nature lovers opens the door to donation requests at the register.

REI cashiers are supposed to end the conversation with an open-ended question that allows the customer to decide whether to round up or donate an arbitrary amount. Simpson said the stores raised about $2.2 million from 1.3 million individual donations last year, an increase of 2.5% compared to 2022.

Grants include a Pennsylvania organization that promotes bicycling among Black women and an Alaska nonprofit that provides therapeutic recreation for people with disabilities.

“This is not aimed at a wide range of companies,” Simpson said.

Still, some observers worry that even the best intentions won't turn off the faucet as like-minded programs line up at checkout lines across the country. Silver, a professor at Northwestern University, questions whether “checkout philanthropy” will become less effective as it grows in popularity.

“If it's something that actually shows up every time you swipe a card, one of the risks is that people start to notice that and start to feel a little bit manipulated,” he said.

Misinformation doesn't help either. Contrary to a popular internet meme, tax policy experts argue that stores cannot deduct customer in-store donations because they don't count as company income.

Domino's Pizza leaders are confident in their company's well-thought-out strategy. With the iconic St. Jude Child printed on Domino's Pizza boxes, this established partner is already one of the best-known partners when it comes to in-store donations.

Above the checkout widget is a summary request that includes images of children. During the 11-week year-end campaign, customers will be greeted with a “click-and-go” pop-up asking for $2, $5, $10 or $20. The request details St. Jude's activities and features overall donation tracking.

Domino's Pizza raised $8.9 million through Roundup last year. The company's management believes that number will further increase under its new five-year strategy to expand its customer base.

The big-ticket philanthropic commitment adds new motivation to meet the latest nonprofit benchmarks, which CEO Russell Weiner describes as “an audacious goal” that isn't necessarily a “slam dunk.” Thing.

Rick Shadyac, CEO of ALSAC, said Domino's Pizza's additional funding will help the company's efforts in 80 countries triple the survival rate of children with the six most common forms of childhood cancer. He said it would help Jude's efforts. This includes the rollout this summer of a program that will eventually provide free chemotherapy to 30% of the 400,000 children living with the disease worldwide.

“If you have more sales and more stores, what does that mean? It means more customers,” Weiner told The Associated Press. “The better we do there, the more people we can raise money for St. Jude.”


Associated Press coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits is supported through a partnership between The Associated Press and The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. AP is solely responsible for this content. For all of AP's philanthropy coverage, visit

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