“Keep the change” – when customers say these three words in a restaurant, they are expressing one clear message: They were really pleased with the food or service and want to say a big thank-you for the kitchen’s and waiter’s effort. When PENNY customers say “keep the change” at the checkout, they are actually supporting a good cause. The total amount on their bill will be rounded up to the next full 10 cents. These few extra cents will then be donated to an organisation located in the store’s neighbourhood that supports children and adolescents.
“Förderpenny” (the “supportive penny”) is the name of a national fund-raising initiative in Germany that was launched last year. The programme complements a project called the “Förderkorb” (the “bountiful basket”) that was begun in 2015 and enables PENNY customers to support charitable organisations in their region for an entire year. “This initiative shows just how serious we are about our commitment to neighbourhoods,” says Stefan Magel, the COO of PENNY and the Executive Board Member responsible for Retail Germany of REWE Group.
In the first step, a jury in 40 neighbourhood regions selects three charitable organisations each from the area of children and adolescent support. Each group then receives a donation of 2,000 euros. In the second step, PENNY customers vote online to select the best of the three recognised initiatives in their region that should receive additional support. The individual winners will then benefit for 12 months from money donated to the Förderpenny. They will receive the money that PENNY customers round up at the checkout. The donations amount to four-digit figures fairly often. Nearly 335,000 euros were donated during the first year of the Förderpenny programme.
Volunteer initiatives that operate outside the spotlight and rarely receive donations can really use the help. One example is the sports club Erfordia Erfurt that intensely works with children who have hearing disabilities. Another is the initiative “Das andere SchulZimmer” ("The Other Classroom") in Augsburg, which helps young people who have dropped out of the traditional school system to earn a high school diploma and get a start in the work world. PENNY always supports organisations located near its stores, groups that intensely and passionately fight for equal opportunities. Last year, more than 500 initiatives submitted requests for donations to their projects for children and adolescents. “This shows just how important our support for children and adolescents is,” Stefan Magel says. More than 700,000 euros have been donated to local groups and organisations since PENNY launched the Förderkorb in 2015.
REWE Campaign “Vouchers for Clubs”
Last year, REWE also started an initiative to assist people who live in areas near its stores. This support has gone in particular to those who are passionate about popular sports. Amateur clubs play a key role in life in their particular neighbourhood. But they have a hard time making ends meet. We are talking about a basketball club that really needs a new basket – but cannot afford it. In another section of the neighbourhood, a team of young footballers needs some new shirts – but the coach does not want to ask the parents to chip in once again. Or a wheelchair hockey team has to replace a broken goal – but has no way to finance the purchase. Sports clubs have to maintain their facilities, pay their coaches and regularly buy sporting goods. They cannot cover these costs by simply dipping into the funds generated by membership dues. They need private sponsors who will support their favourite club.
Donations can get the job done. However, it is something that can also be done without any direct payment of money or donations of equipment, as REWE demonstrated with a campaign called “Scheine für Vereine” (“Vouchers for Clubs”). Customers who purchased something in a REWE supermarket or used its delivery, pickup or parcel service during the campaign period received a club voucher for each 15 euros that they spent. The customers could then donate the voucher to one of about 92,000 amateur sports clubs that were listed in an app or on a website. The more vouchers a club received, the higher the amount it could cash in for specific articles. The selection comprised more than 80 products – from waffle irons, balls, football shirts and tabletop football to high-quality XXL climbing contraptions. “The aim of the campaign was not just to support clubs,” says Johannes Steegmann, the Head of Marketing at REWE. “We also wanted to support local communities. Sports clubs play a key role in social life and the good health of children and adults.”
Johannes Steegmann, Head of Marketing at REWE“The aim of the campaign was not just to support clubs, we also wanted to support local communities. Sports clubs play a key role in social life and the good health of children and adults.”
This was the first time that such a campaign was conducted in Germany. It started with 20,000 to 30,000 registered vouchers per day. The clubs soon realised how they could also play an active part and collect even more vouchers. They asked for help by using social media channels or by taking the more traditional approach of putting up posters. Or they shot short, creative videos that used humour to show why they really needed the vouchers from REWE customers. Clubs like a field hockey team called the Bambinis whose members were only given the hand-me-down pants of the “big team” and constantly tripped over themselves as a result. The participating clubs created over 23,000 contributions to draw attention to themselves and the campaign. A form of collection fever broke out particularly in rural areas where neighbourhoods are especially close. In the middle of the action: the local REWE supermarket. Small clubs profited especially from the campaign. They included ball players, track and field athletes, anglers and competitive dancers. Some clubs collected several thousand vouchers. REWE customers handed out up to 1.5 million vouchers on peak days. The recipients usually turned to social media to express their thanks for the huge support. The “Scheine für Vereine” campaign developed more and more momentum as each week passed. In the end, nearly 55,000 clubs cashed in more than 48 million vouchers and received prizes worth more than 13 million euros.