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Customer Donations: A Way to Build Goodwill

I'm buying crickets for my daughter's lizard, and the clerk asks me if I want to donate to a pet shelter by rounding up my purchase.  On a flight, I'm promoted to donate to the airlines' charity of the month.  With my American Express bill, I get another opportunity to donate.

Donations are no longer the exclusive domain of charitable organizations, they have gone mainstream.  And if you choose to institute a donation program at your company, Advantage offers support in managing it.

Collecting donations is a way for an organization to demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility and involve their customers in doing some good.  The cause is benefited and the customers feel increased loyalty to the organization.  It's a win win ? mostly.

There is a bit of administrative cost involved.   You have to handle the transactions, the tax deduction notifications (if any), the money . . . and no doubt provide some customer service.  Some organizations go even further and offer discounts, points or premiums to contributors.

In evaluating whether this makes sense for your organization, know that Advantage offers assistance in managing donations.  You can define donation items for each cause.  (See Setup for Donations later in this article for more specifics.)  Entering the donation item ID in order entry, you are prompted for the amount of the donation.  You can even activate a feature that allows you to apply overpayments to a donation item.

Include a donation solicitation with your normal promotions and enter those that do contribute with the order ? an extra order-line every now and then.  (They can also be loaded - PRO301 - or captured at your web-site using Advantage capsules).  Include a thank you with your order acknowledgement or maybe have a special LST selection to send thank you notices.

Advantage also supports automatic donations that a customer agrees to make on a schedule of their choosing, for a defined or indefinite time period.  The customer provides their credit card, or bank account information and Advantage generates the appropriate donation "orders" on the customer's schedule.  Premiums can be linked into the program so that the customer receives a premium with each donation or when the total donated reaches a threshold.  (See Recurring Donations later in this article for more specifics.)

Is it worth the effort?  That is your call.  Just know that Advantage has support for donations.  (The feature came into the base product in 2007).  Wouldn't it be interesting to know how your customers participated with donation efforts?  Makes you wonder what some data mining would reveal on that.  Then again, maybe the answer is staring us in the face every time we buy crickets.

Setup for Donations:  Donations in Advantage are identified by an inventory item with the system name DNT.  This allows you to separate out the customer's donations from their other business---for example, within the customer purchase history file.  Donation items are set up as non-taxable and non-discountable.  They are also set up with a zero price (the amount of the donation is either specified during order entry, or defined on the recurring donations setup).

Recurring Donations:  Recurring donation information is maintained at the SVCRDN workspace.  Create a record for each cause (donation item) that the customer wants to contribute to containing

  • the amount of each donation
  • the credit card or bank account to collect the money from
  • how often and for how long they want to contribute
  • how any premium is earned and who should receive it

Donations are created according to customer instructions by the SVC250 process, which you would want to run on a regular basis.

More Details:  You can get more details from the Advantage documentation.  Just do a search on "donation".

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