Better buying: Shopping, giving and making a difference

Last year Americans gave a record $373.25 billion to charities, up 4% from the year before. So have you ever wondered how much of that giving happens at the cash register? The answer is almost $400 million, and that number is on the rise.

Here are three things you need to know about making a contribution to charity when you’re doing your grocery shopping or visiting your favorite retailer.

First, if you enjoy giving at the register, you are not alone. 72% of American consumers have done it at some point, and 65% felt positively about the retailer after they made the gift.

Second, if you don’t give at the register, you might be one of the 44% of non-givers who take a pass simply because they don’t know anything about the cause. That’s a perfectly legitimate reason not to give. Focusing on the causes you love is the best way to do good for others and make sure you feel good, too.

Third, don’t forget that there’s another way to shop and give. Look for brands where a portion of every purchase goes to support a cause. TOM’s Shoes has made this famous with its “One for One” program where every item purchased helps a person in need.

As always, remember that giving money to charities is not the only way to “do good.” Each person has a unique “Social Impact Culture Type.” Some types enjoy doing good in ways that don’t necessarily involve spending cash. Other ways to do good include volunteering, recycling, serving on boards, donating food and clothing, celebrating at events, sharing with people in need, marketing a favorite cause, and even caring for your own health and wellness.