As the start of the holiday shopping season approaches, we can expect some retailers to promote donations for food banks, needy families and other groups. In some cases, retailers act as donation points, provide resources to coordinate fundraising, or even make their own donations. However, some companies simply encourage shoppers to make full-price purchases of items in the store. As a result, the retailer profits from the goodwill of its customers. A new Wal-Mart TV ad even features a coach who takes his players to Wal-Mart to shop for the local toy drive. Although it’s possible that Wal-Mart offers some sort of discount, this certainly isn’t clear in the ad. It seems more likely that Wal-Mart and retailers like it want to be seen as promoting community spirit.

The Wal-Mart ad irked me and I planned to write about corporations that profit from customers’ donations. I don’t expect corporations to make donations — that’s not my grudge. My gripe is with companies that promote the donations of their employees or customers without providing any donations or in-kind services.

Today, I received an email today from Tracey Axelsson, owner of Bundles, a Vancouver-based children’s store. I was heartened to discover that, until December 18th, Bundles will offer 40 percent off any item purchased for the Gordon Neighbourhood House’s Toy Drive and the Basics For Babies campaign. Bundles will collect donations and deliver them to the charities.

“I’ve always wanted to do something at my store to participate in this kind of outreach, but I’ve always felt uncomfortable with making money off these loving acts of strangers,” says Tracey. “I think this is a great way to not only eliminate my discomfort and provide a strong means to reinforce these generous acts. I’m also looking forward to showing my gratitude for the support we’ve received in the past few years since opening!”

Bravo to Bundles for taking a deep discount during the busy holiday season. Bundles is in English Bay — a few steps east of Davie and Denman, at 1789 Davie Street.

(c) 2005 by Andrea Coutu. Vancouver Marketing Consultant. All rights reserved.