There was a Macy’s ad in the Denver Post last weekend for their “Shop for a Cause” program.  The ad was designed to inform the community that October 17th would be their next Shop for a Cause day and that nonprofit 501c3organizations who would like to participate were invited to sign up.  

Interested nonprofits are given special Shopping Passes which they can sell to their network of supporters and volunteers for $5.  The nonprofit gets to keep 100% of the proceeds they collect.  The shopping pass gives an all day shopping discount though I could not find anywhere what that exact percentage is.  Anyway, $5 is not much money so even if people are not planning to use it to shop, it is a small donation to give.  

All participating in this promotion win.  Macy’s clearly wins – this kind of promotion broadens their access to consumers through nonprofit networks and can push up their retail sales, especially on October 17th.  This gives Macy’s good PR, as well.  

Shop for a Cause provides nonprofits a fundraising tool besides the old candy bar and bake sales and asking for straight donations.  The dollars are unrestricted so can be spent either on operations or program expenses.  Macy’s reports that since Shop for a Cause started in 2006, more than $28 million dollars have been generated to support nonprofits nationally.  That is a big chunk of change!!  And the supporter gets something in return for their contribution beyond just the feel good of having helped out.  Especially for those nonprofits with large databases of supporters and regular newsletters, it can be relatively easy to get the word out to a lot of people.  However, since $5 is not a lot of money, it may require a decent amount of work for nonprofits to handle the money collection and shopping pass distribution. But with automated systems, it certainly does not have to be terribly time intensive, especially if the shopping passes are available electronically – something I couldn’t tell from the Macy’s website.  

This is a great example of how a business can build sales by offering a discount and partnering with nonprofits – offering them basically a preset commission ($5/person) on projected sales.  The nonprofit does the bulk of the work and other than shopping passes and some web design work, Macy’s does not have to put a ton of resources in up front.

The Macy’s website offers a list of participating charities by state using a drop menu.  When I pulled up the Colorado page, only four nonprofits were listed under the Colorado Springs store.  There are more Macy’s in Colorado so either they have not yet submitted anything or headquarters is way behind in getting things entered onto the site.

Spread the word to nonprofits you know that need some extra cash – a lot of shopping passes can be sold in the next two months!!