Wise Giving Wednesday: From Books to Borscht, Retail Sales Helping Ukraine

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calendar icon Mar 16, 2022

It would not be unusual for disasters and tragedies to inspire some retailers to sell products or services with the promise that some of the sales will benefit a relief assistance charity. As this cause-related marketing concept has been around for decades, we are not surprised it emerged to assist charities engaged in relief activities in Ukraine and/or helping Ukrainian refugees in neighboring countries. What is perhaps unexpected is the wide variety of retail sales that have taken place across the country: audio equipment in Burlington, Vermontbakery in Alamo Heights, Texasbook sales in Portland, Oregonborscht sales in New York, New Yorkcannabis sales in San Francisco, Californiacheese in Kewaunee, Wisconsinpierogi sales in Utica, New Yorkpizza in Rochester, New Yorksunflower (Ukraine’s national flower) seed sales in Portland, Oregont-shirt sales in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and vodka sales in Columbus, Ohio, and Davenport, Iowa. Probably the most unusual of all would be the President Zelensky toy figurines from Chicago, Illinois. The common denominator among all these sale promotions was the announced intention to raise money for Ukraine- related relief purposes. This activity is not confined to just the U.S., a resident in Vancouver, Canada has started a petition seeking to have Canada Post create a Ukrainian refugee relief stamp to help Ukraine relief efforts.

BBB Wise Giving Alliance encourages consumers to carefully look for a disclosure in these promotions. Specifically, BBB Charity Standard 19 calls for such ads to clearlydisclose how the charity benefits from the sale of products or services (i.e., cause-related marketing) that state or imply that a charity will benefit from a consumer sale or transaction. Such promotions should disclose, at the point of solicitation:

(a) the actual or anticipated portion of the purchase price that will benefit the charity (e.g., 5 cents will be contributed to abc charity for every xyz company product sold),

(b) the duration of the campaign (e.g., the month of March), and

(c) any maximum or guaranteed minimum contribution amount (e.g., up to a maximum of $200,000).

To help protect the interests of both parties, the retailer should seek some type of written arrangement with the charity giving it permission to use the charity’s name and identifying when and how much of sales will go to the organization. Sometimes, an enthusiastic store or restaurant may rush to raise funds without obtaining this permission which can result in problems, especially since charity names and logos are usually trademarked just like they are in the business space. Also, we would encourage retailers to verify if the selected charity meets the BBB Charity Standards such as those appearing in this previous blog. In turn, the charity should visit bbb.org to verify if their potential partner is a BBB Accredited Business. Also, some state government agencies may require the retailer to register and file campaign reports as well.  

For more about cause-related marketing, see the implementation guidance for BBB Charity Standard 19 and review our previous Wise Giving Guide magazine cover story on this subject.

Video of the Week

As part of the Building Trust Video series, we are pleased to revisit a previous video interview that features John Walker, CEO of SOAR365, a BBB Accredited Charity based in Richmond, VA that helps families and individuals cope with the challenges of living with a disability.  They offer services such as home pediatric therapy for infants and toddlers and day programs that help develop social, behavioral, physical, and cognitive skills.

Heart of Giving Podcast

For this week’s Heart of Giving Podcast BBB WGA President & CEO, Art Taylor, interviews Marc Rand, the Executive Director of American Nonprofits. American Nonprofits is an organization formed by nonprofit sector leaders to serve as a platform to address issues of finance, credit, strategy, and accountability.


Recent Reports

We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:

Finally, remember to let us know by going to give.org/charity-inquiry if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.

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