£1 is a small price to pay for hope

Rosie Baker is Marketing Week’s specialist on sustainability and retail.

hope blocks

Alzheimer’s Society has partnered with convenience store chain Budgens to trial a clever fundraising initiative that makes donating to the charity part of the weekly shop.

It’s part of an initiative set up by ad agency JWT, which has created wooden ‘hope blocks’ that will be stacked on shelves next to confectionery products and ‘sold’ for £1.

The £1 donation goes to the charity and the wooden block returns to the shelf to attract the next customer. Alzheimer’s Society is the first to sign up to the scheme and other charities could follow suit.

It might seem gimmicky, and maybe it is, but it’s also a clever marketing ploy that puts the charity and its aims in front of shoppers when they are in the mindset to spend money.

Charities are looking at new ways to attract donations in the face of ever tighter household budgets.

The barrier for many consumers is that they have less disposable income to spend on their families and feel that they can’t afford to support charities.

Another difficulty charities face is that there is no tangible trigger for donations.

Street fundraisers, not-affectionately called ‘chuggers’ are a necessary nuisance for charity organisations to raise funds but on the whole are hugely frustrating to people on the street who object to being interrupted by several different charities on the way to work every day.

Direct response TV ads while also effective don’t always get people when they are likely to part with cash.

A quid seems a small price to pay for a little bit of hope and by sitting the blocks next to other low price, impulse purchases in stores, ‘hope blocks’ remove the barriers to donation that might put off consumers that cannot afford to make bigger, or regular, donations to charities.

The supermarket is an ideal place to encourage a low-value off the cuff donation. It’s a cold hearted person that won’t even consider giving £1 to charity when they are about to spend that on a Mars bar.

The initiative turns the donation into a purchase. Everything else is commoditised these days and if Alzheimer’s Society, or any other charity, can use it to their advantage by creating a product that symbolises ‘hope’ and makes it a purchase rather than a donation, why not?

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