The Coin Shortage and Round Up Campaigns
The United States is experiencing a disruption in coin flow due to the partial shutdown of the economy. While it doesn’t rise to the level of a global pandemic, the circulation stagnation has real implications for businesses and consumers alike. As the economy reopens, coin demand is outpacing the supply. Businesses are at risk of being unable to make change for cash purchases, especially those who rely heavily on cash transactions, such as laundromats, grocery stores, smaller restaurants, vending machines, parking meters, convenience stores, nail salons, and more. Retailers are having to get creative to manage the problem.
On the consumer side, the disruption particularly affects low-income people and the segments of the population who are unbanked and underbanked – approximately 55 million people – who regularly pay with cash. Some consumers are transitioning to mobile and electronic payment apps like Apple Pay and Google Pay, in addition to relying on credit and debit cards.
In the same way that businesses and consumers are adapting, some nonprofits have taken this as an opportunity during the upheaval of traditional practices. Rounding up campaigns, where consumers round up their purchase to the nearest dollar and donate the “change”, have grown in popularity in recent years. In a July 24th Forbes article, David Hessekiel of Engage for Good wrote that some organizations have adapted to the changes by starting ‘round-up’ campaigns: “Running this type of program has proved a great way to create positive social impact and deal with a logistical problem, according to business and nonprofit executives.” (Forbes)
- Over $486M was raised by a group of 79 POS fundraising campaigns that each raised over $1M. (Engage for Good)
- One out of every five grocery store transactions are paid with cash. (National Grocers Association)
- According to Blackbaud’s 2017 Charitable Giving Report, the most common way that consumers make charitable donations is through checkout donations. (Engage for Good)
Hessekiel highlights Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores shift to its ‘Round Up the Change campaign. After the first week, Love’s reported that donations topped 2019 amounts “by a healthy margin.” (Forbes) Other organizations rising to the circumstances include Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s partners, Taco Bell’s Live Más Scholarship Program, Southeastern Grocers in their ongoing support of Folds of Honor, and Schnucks Markets. On April 24, Schnucks reported that customers donated $225,000 during their 2.5-week round-up campaign for United Way COVID-19 relief. (Schnucks)
Round up register campaigns offer a particularly savvy solution to the culmination of hurdles that the pandemic has created. The halt in face-to-face interactions and events has likely altered the typical visibility of your organization and mission. Point-of-sale campaigns are effective ways to stay front-of-mind for consumers and are an accessible fundraising avenue in lieu of in-person options. Further, there is some evidence to suggest that consumers prefer rounding up at the register over additional POS purchases and donation requests. As consumer purchasing continues to move online, round up campaigns offer a seamless experience, allowing consumers to engage in the cause whether in-person or online. And as some of the examples below show, round up don’t have to be national – they can happen at the very local and personal level.
The mutually beneficial twist on point-of-sale campaigns could have you rethinking potential partners. Due to the coin flow stagnation, those businesses that rely on cash transactions are primed for discussion. Approach them with a solution that works for both of you!
Other innovative and successful round up partnerships and campaigns include:
– Atlanta McDonald’s holding a competition for RMHC round-up funds
– Lyft’s LyftUp Round Up and Donate program to benefit a variety of organizations
– Strip’s Chicken and YOUTHrive in Olathe, Kansas