Everything is easier on the Internet, and that includes a donation program for nonprofit organizations.
Associated Wholesalers Inc., a cooperative wholesaler based in Robesonia, Pa., is an example of a company that is leveraging the Internet to support its two Community Rewards programs, which allow Gold Card loyalty shoppers to earmark donations taken from their purchases for specific nonprofits, such as schools, Little Leagues, volunteer fire departments and the like.
AWI runs the programs for some of its member stores, one program covering 28 ShurSave stores operated by 17 retailers and the other covering eight Shurfine stores operated by Nell's Shurfine Markets, York, Pa. ShurSave and Shurfine are cooperative ad groups.
But rather than being limited to signing up for the program in stores, shoppers are also able to do so online at either shurfinemarkets.com or shursavemarkets.com. Moreover, the nonprofit organizations are also able to register for the program online.
There are now just over 200 nonprofit groups participating in each of the two programs, a 40% increase since the registration process went online three years ago, according to Fred Foose, marketing/advertising director, AWI. During that time, more than $80,000 has been contributed to the community groups through the ShurSave program and $240,000 through the Shurfine program.
“Donations have increased significantly, due to the increased number of participating community groups and customers interested in supporting these community groups,” said Foose.
The “ease of signing up” has led more groups and consumers into the programs, Foose said. “The consumer and community groups clearly appreciate the ability to use the Web for signing up. In our time-starved society, anything that saves time is appreciated.”
The program is also easier for participating retailers, noted Joe Fasula, vice president and co-owner of Gerrity's, a nine-store ShurSave retailer based in Scranton, Pa. “It makes it a lot easier for us when it's all done electronically and runs in the background.” Gerrity's was “the real thrust in producing the [donation] websites,” said Glenn Kriczky, vice president of information systems, AWI.
The two programs operate differently. Under the ShurSave program, the stores donate 3 cents for every private-label (Shur-fine or Western Family) product purchased by a loyalty card shopper. Under the Shurfine program, $30,000 is committed every six months to donations; a nonprofit's percentage is determined by purchases of loyalty shoppers who selected that group compared to all purchases made in the program. For both programs, purchases are tracked electronically.
Fasula said in the ShurSave program a shopper's cumulative donation is noted on the receipt received at each purchase. Whenever a particular organization's overall total reaches $25, it receives a check for that amount, he said.