Domino’s Dedicates $174m to St. Jude Hospital through Checkout Charity Initiative


Directing the limelight towards charity, Domino’s, the world’s pizza tycoon, has rolled the dice on the magnanimity of its patrons. Proposing a bold venture, Domino’s has committed to generously handover $174 million to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital over the next decade. The funds are intended to be furnished through their sustained program which prompts clients to donate the spare change between their actual bill total and the next full dollar amount. This innovative approach has reaped a bounty for the Tennessee-based hospital’s fundraising group, ALSAC, with more than $126 million being raised in the past twenty years.

Domino’s stands as a towering testament of the success of this philanthropic initiative, coined as “checkout charity.” Engage for Good, a professional association, recently divulged that this fundraising method skyrocketed in terms of money raised in 2022, up by 24% since 2020 among top-earning programs, generating a whopping total of $749 million.

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Despite the shifting landscape of consumer behavior towards online shopping, negative economic impacts, and leading fears around more incessant solicitations possibly leading to donation fatigue, there is a budding optimism within franchises that customers will persist in parting with their spare change. Subsequently, retailers have been developing partnerships initially formed in response to the racial reckoning that surfaced in 2020, pushing businesses towards corporate citizenship.

Extensive research highlights the effectiveness of employing the rounding strategy in comparison to asking for a specific donation amount. Marketing professor from Saint Louis University, Katie Kelting, who spearheaded the research, explicates how the framing allows for a less painful relinquishing of money. Furthermore, the marketing professor at Northwestern University, Ike Silver, highlights the role of several influential factors at play. Primarily, the tactful timing of the donation request and the clever strategy that capitalizes on purchase inertia.

As champions of this strategy advance, organizations have started recognizing the power of this tactic. PetSmart Charities, a leader in grants for animal welfare causes, has reported that over 80% of its donations come through checkout contributions. This form of giving has not only garnered substantial funds but also engaged everyday consumers as donors, breaking down barriers of entry into philanthropy.

At the other end of the spectrum, we find REI Co-op, a specialty seller in outdoor clothing and equipment, which launched its own member-supported charity in 2021. The aim was to make outdoor spaces more accessible and inclusive, pumping resources into local communities after the COVID-19 shutdown. Through personal customer interactions around shared nature enthusiasm, they have managed to raise $2.2 million from 1.3 million individual donations in stores in just the last year.

Meanwhile, concerns loom large as the effectiveness of “checkout charity” seems to be waning due to its popularity. Silver raises this concern, cautioning about the possibility of manipulation perception. Misinformation further aggravates this snag because contrary to popular belief, stores can’t claim tax deductions on consumers’ donations.

Undeterred by these hurdles, Domino’s continues to be confident in their robust strategy. Collaborations with established partners, primarily St. Jude, and the use of point-of-purchase donations, have already been cemented in the minds of customers. Thanks to its annual campaign ‘click and go,’ Domino’s raised $8.9 million last year.

As part of their five-year growth strategy, the pizza chain plans to increase its customer base. This ambitious plan is described by their CEO, Russell Weiner, as ‘an audacious goal.’ ALSAC CEO Rick Shadyac detailed that the extra funding from Domino’s will bolster St. Jude’s efforts around cancer in 80 countries, aimed at tripling the survival rate for the most common forms of childhood cancer for 30% of the 400,000 children diagnosed annually.

The corporate behemoth’s mission is simple. The more sales and stores they have, the more customers they can appeal to donate money for St. Jude’s cause. This audacious yet commendable goal is their latest stepping stone towards meeting their corporate social responsibility while also fulfilling their charitable commitments.