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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- While supermarkets across the nation have recently demonstrated their community spirit by helping shoppers come to the aid of tsunami victims in South Asia and Gulf Coast residents displaced by hurricanes, Price Chopper, based here, was able to make a significant contribution in spite of its relatively small size of 43 stores, thanks to creative thinking when it comes to facilitating customer donations.
Price Chopper's customers donated over $228,000 to Red Cross hurricane relief, on the heels of contributing $49,000 for Red Cross tsunami relief earlier in the year. The cash contributions were on top of customer donations of tons of food aid and over 300,000 bottles of water.
What helped make Price Chopper's fundraising drive so successful was the simple act of going against conventional wisdom regarding checkstand contribution denominations. For years the company followed the industry pattern of keeping the donation denominations low. Following the huge tsunami tragedy, however, the retailer modified its normal mix of $1 and $5 (and occasionally $1, $2, and $5) donation coupons to $1, $5, and $10 coupons. The result hugely increased the average contribution, with the larger denomination accounting for over half of the total contribution revenue in the second and third efforts of the year (aid for those affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita), while still topping 40 percent of income in its introductory effort, for tsunami relief.
"Looking at historical data, it became obvious to us that the larger denomination, at that time $5, raised the most money for the charity," said Alan McKeever, a member of Price Chopper's ownership group. "Using the previous year's food bank program as baseline data, it made sense to offer customers the option of helping in a larger way, though we did cover our bases in going from two coupons to three, keeping the $5 option."
"Even with the 'giving exhaustion' when Rita came around, the assumption that larger opportunities would work proved out," continued McKeever. "Price Chopper's customers want to help -- they just needed the means to do so in a bigger way."
Price Chopper is putting is the new strategy to a further test with its annual fall "Checkout Hunger" program for Harvesters, a local food bank. This year's effort will include the three denominations and, even in light of "giving exhaustion," will provide data suitable for a statistical analysis of giving patterns.
Price Chopper is an Associated Wholesale Grocer brand, with stores owned by five Kansas City families.