Donations through purchases

The Kid mentioned to me the other day: “Mom, did you know Tony the Tiger donates money to keep sports in schools?”

We had a short conversation about it, and I told him I’d look up the details.

Here are the details: you buy a box of Frosted Flakes. You upload your receipt, and Kellogg’s donates $1* to an organization funding school sports. I didn’t look for further details about the organization or what they’re doing—I didn’t think our conversation would be that in-depth.

Did you notice the asterisk? I did, and I had to zoom on my screen to be able to read the fine print.

Max donation is $1M.

So we talked. He was happy about it at first—$1 per box seems pretty good. (We also talked about how sports and sugary cereals don’t really go together.)

But then we talked about the upper limit. And we talked about all the people who could potentially buy the box, thinking they’re donating to school sports, and they’re not.

“But Mom, they’ll stop the commercial [that I saw] once they hit a million, won’t they?”

Well … I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not. And we talked a bit about how ads are purchased. (Didn’t even get into nefarious intent, just “we bought two weeks’ worth of ads so they run for two weeks, regardless.”) So they might still be running after Kellogg’s has donated their million.

“That is the crappiest thing I’ve ever heard! Oh my goodness!”

Lesson learned: if we want to donate to a cause, donate to it directly.

0 thoughts on “Donations through purchases”

  1. Donation-through-purchase is nice IF it’s from something you were going to purchase anyway.

    Amazon Smile is a good example. Our music boosters have an Amazon Smile account, so as long as people choose the boosters as their charity, the boosters get 1/2% of the proceeds of their purchases.

    Is that a lot? Hell no. I think they net a couple hundred a year. But it’s a couple hundred they didn’t have otherwise, which is enough to cover small repair items, like mallet key string or bass drum stand rubber bands.

    The good part is that it’s ongoing passive income. Once someone signs up, as long as they purchase through the Smile version of the site (and the regular site will remind you if you went there instead), there’s no extra effort.

    I’d definitely distinguish between something like that and something where you feel obligated to buy something you might otherwise not have.

    The left-winger in me, of course, says that we should just tax corporate profits far more, cut the military budget in half, and fund things properly. But, you know, baby steps.


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