When did it become okay to shame someone for not donating at a cash register?

Earlier this week, while buying some props for a news story, I was asked if I'd like to donate to "such-and-such" cause.

I said, "No, thanks." I was then asked if I'd like to "round up" to the nearest dollar. My total was $58.37. I, again, said, "No, thanks." The cashier then responded, "Really? Not even 'round up?'"

When and where I choose to donate is not anyone else's business.

When and where you choose to donate is not my business.

However, this got me thinking, how do I know that when I "round up," that money is going to the charity I think it's going to help?

At PetSmart, before paying, the credit card machine poses the following statement, not even a question, just a statement: "Donate to help save homeless pets."

You're then presented four squares with $1, $2, $5, and $10, with a little bitty "no thanks" in the bottom right corner.

The donation would go to PetSmart Charities. Its website states that in 2015, 90 cents of every dollar directly helped pets in need.

We checked with the 990 form that spells out the charity's financials, and that is accurate. The remaining dime went toward things like administrative costs and fundraising efforts.

At Dick's Sporting Goods, the terminal says, "Donate to help us keep kids playing sports," and then offers you $1, $5, other, round up, or no thanks. At least the "no thanks" is the same size as the donation options.

It appears this donation would fund the Dick's Sporting Goods Foundation.

Safeway accepts donations for multiple categories:

  • Health and Human Services
  • Youth and Education
  • Supporting Diversity and Inclusion of All Abilities
  • Hunger
  • Veterans

According to a Safeway spokeswoman, the donation is tracked internally though a code that is different than the grocery items.

Charities can apply to receive donations from the funds.

The bulk of the donations stay in Colorado, but Colorado is part of a five-state region: Colorado, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska and New Mexico.

Charities from those states can also apply to receive the donations.

According to the Colorado Secretary of State's Office, if you believe that your money was not actually donated to the cause you thought you were giving, or if you're a charity that feels you were shortchanged from what you were expecting, you can file a complaint.

The Secretary of State's Office could do a type of audit and ask the companies for financial information.

Who gets a tax benefit?

According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, donations added to your bill after the fact, meaning an extra donation or "rounding up," is your money, not the company's.

The business is just a conduit for that money and should not be claiming any of your added donation.

The company can receive a tax benefit if it offers to donate a portion of sales for its own products, for example, donating five percent of every dollar spent.

The business can also receive a benefit for donating its own money.