Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series highlighting cause marketing campaigns from around the world called ‘Global Voices’. We hope our team of international contributors will shed insights into cause marketing in their home country and inspire you to expand your own purpose-driven horizons.
In the United States and many European countries, consumers are accustomed to being asked at retail checkout counters to round-up their purchase for a worthy cause. (Your total comes to $9.85. Would you like to round-up to $10.00 and donate those 15 cents to charity?) Micro-donations made through the rounding of retail totals are common and equal big dollars in the US, but the movement is new to Brazil, which is taking a different approach to these cause marketing programs. The Rounding-Up Institute (Instituto Arredondar in Portuguese) is attempting to start an entire Rounding-Up movement throughout the country. Created in 2011 and inspired by the book Financing Future, the role of the Institute is to link consumers, companies and recipient organizations, offering support to make donations happen and directing the funds to the right destination.
Tackling Logistical Challenges
To enable consumers to “round up” their purchases, merchants’ collaboration is necessary, including changes in their operating systems, which must be aligned with transparency standards proposed by the Institute. “We have support from software companies for this. In addition, we also support the communication, training and involvement of the sales teams, as well as monitoring the distribution of donations received to organizations previously selected by the Institute through a careful process. We always start with a pilot project in one or two stores and expand these after two weeks,” explains Nina Valentini, one of the coordinators of the Institute.
Enthusiastic employees are also key parts of this donation model that enable it to be scaled-up and to persuade consumers. “The approach with the client at store cash tills is what changes the world and members know the importance of their involvement. We have teams engaged in different shops that round-up.” Nina says.
Receptivity to the project in the Brazilian retail sector has continuously increased. In addition to retailers such as Puket, Grifer, Crocs and Makers, the initiative is being implemented in 20 other retailers in 2014.
Well Vetted Charities Receive Unrestricted Funds
Social and environmental organizations go through rigorous selection audits by PricewaterhouseCoopers to become beneficiaries of donations. There are currently 15 civil society institutions registered to receive donations, (including our institution, IPÊ – Institute for Ecological Research).
The funds are divided proportionally between organizations. The maximum amount to be transferred to each NGOs is approximately 10% of its respective total operating costs, with a ceiling of R$150,000 (about $68,000 USD) per year. Donations may be used for administrative expenses, which is great news for Brazilian NGOs because most donors do not normally allow resources to be used in this way.
Pennies Into Millions for Brazilian Charities
For consumers, this is a simple alternative for donating to organizations. It is increasingly necessary to develop novel opportunities for people to work together for a cause and credible organizations. Offering something so easy for the consumer at the time of purchase may be a successful fundraising strategy.
Because of the very recent introduction of rounding-up initiatives in Brazil, the movement does not have consolidated data on the amount of donations, but the micro-donation movement has been shown to be a positive fundraising alternative for institutions. This occurs at a promising time in Brazil, when institutions are actively pursuing the new culture of individual giving. We also have to recognize that this field promises substantial growth, since Brazil now has a population of more than 200 million people. In light of this, micro-donations can have a substantial impact because as the Rounding-up Movement likes to say: as more people round-up, pennies are no longer only pennies, they turn to millions and millions of donors support millions of people.