New ways emerging to give to charities

Patrons at PetCo in East Boise have lots of options when it comes to helping animals in need.

Some are low-tech. Manager Michael Melis will soon deliver some 600 tennis balls donated by PetCo customers to the Idaho Humane Society, for example.

Other options are more technology-driven, like ongoing programs that let customers who swipe their credit cards add a few dollars to their bill at the register for animal welfare causes. Last month, people could donate to a program to train seeing-eye dogs. This month, it’s animal adoptions.

”It’s a no-pressure approach,“ said Melis, ”We might have signs up, reminding customers what a dollar donated can mean to a homeless animal. If people give, that’s fine. If they don’t, we understand how tough the economy is right now.“

Often, customers do give. Last year, the East Boise PetCo collected $10,000 at the register during its holiday ”Tree of Hope“ giving campaign. Idaho Humane Society got the money.

Across the country, shoppers are adding dollars to their bills, rounding up their charges to the nearest dollar for causes including free vision care, children’s health and literacy.

Many companies take up collections for a few weeks during the year to support different causes, but ”point-of-sale“ contributions can extend fundraising throughout the year.

”It’s good business to give back,“ said Mike Swenson, president of PR/causes at Barkley, a Kansas City-based marketing communications company. ”The 20-somethings and 30-somethings expect corporate USA and corporate global to be part of making society better, and they will reward those corporations with their pocketbook.“

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