Marketing Charity exploitation

Not really officially a scam but still seems unethically applied to me. The figures are not to actual event but represent actual common package claim I’m seeing a lot of.

Look I purchased toiletries.
$1 from every purchase goes to a charity.

I buy it go home and tiny label on back explains limited to first 2000 sales.

Essentially the seller has capped the donation to $2000

The problems I have is
Why don’t they just donate $2000 and not bind conditionally to marketing.
How do I know I was not the 2001st person to buy one.
The product was sold to the retailers, hasn’t 2000 already been sold before I touch the bottle.

It comes to me as profiting from deception by using of small numbers to increase overall revenue while leverage a charity trademark for commercial benefit.


That sounds so wrong.
Would it be possible to alert others by sharing the brand and perhaps a pic (pack shot) with the logo and fine print on the back? If you can’t do the pic, we will at least know what to look out for.


What is the product and company?

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Hi mark
tn this particular occasion it was the Listerine purple lgbtqi October donation sadly I observed when I disposed of this week

20c from every pack to charity boldly in the specially labeled rainbow package

The disclaimer for this specific package was limited to total sales of the first 200,000, does not sound like big money to me.

The one I hate most though is
Product released in August I bought in September and November
the clause is all sales made in October we will give $x to charity.

Why should they be allowed to shelve a product for 3 months with the trademark of charity.

The same Listerine product was also guilty of this strange time limit arrangement.

Corporate good willi would have thought would be more open-ended

So check the packages you see shavers and feminine hygiene packaging was most common for these


" Support food education for kids 25 cents from the purchase of every Coles Australian Carisma Washed Potaotes 2kg Bag sold will be donated to a maximum of $75,000."

June is quite a quiet time, no companies promotion packages

However spotted the above in store at Coles
A poultry $75000 on a product that sells millions everyday
store signage was illegible but heard the terms over the whisper quiet in store radio

Then looked online to find.


This months is $1 per eligible purchase at shell to Movember

Blah blah limit $250000

Now how this comes to have a limit is the real question.

member1: we sold 500,000 units last month how can we increase this?
Member 2: let’s advise we will share of $1 donation
Member 1: but that costs me $1
Member 2: we’ll set a cap
Member 1: so we’ll sell the amount we normally sell donate a little, keep every dollar above the 250000 and UpTo normal sales volume 500000 plus we get to keep all those dollars above that as well.

Member 2: yes when we sell 750000 units we donate 250000 but boast an extra 250000 dollars all while those sucked in think that dollar is for charity and we get to keep :slight_smile:

Are you saying that Coles/Shell has marked up the eligible products an extra $1.00 above the regular price for the Movember promotion?

Assuming there is no increase in the regular price it appears the retailer is prepared to take a loss on the $250k donated, less after tax deductions.

Will the promotion increase sales?
Does the hypothetical presented have any basis in fact?

That Coles/Shell and other retailers are donating to a number of charities for Movember is admirable. Irrespective of how they go about promoting their commitment, it’s also practical and more effective to make a direct personal donation. I’m unlikely to make an additional or unplanned purchase with any retailer because I want to help a charity. Knowing that a business donates however can create a more positive feeling towards that business. How that might equate to improved overall sales needs more than a hypothetical.

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Sorry mark I placed without direct connect of the historical context

This arbitrary cap in donation isn’t really ethical because I the customer do not know if my $1 is donated or falls outside the figure. Was I the 250001st customer on November 18th?

The signage never indicator of progress and most cases signage potentially remains even when customer may be influenced to the sale.

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Are you suggesting that the retailer should not donate. IE to resolve any ethical concerns?

Accepting there is a degree of uncertainty as to when any sales cap is reached. If one is making a purchase only because of the $1 donation by the retailer it would be reassuring to know the retailer donated their $1 because of your individual purchase. While that’s the impression many of us might have of how it works, the T&C’s (fine print) will explain any cap. It’s not a unique marketing practice to offer products with limited time or stock or other conditions. How prominent they should be or how well explained, the ACCC seems to accept fine print in many instances as adequate excuse.

What would you suggest should be changed for any promotion where the retailer commits their money to charitable donations. I don’t perceive the donation as my $1, although others may see it as such.

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I found it clear. Adding something to show ‘goal 250,000, you are number X’ in some form or another.

It is not unreasonable that some people would purchase a product from one shop rather than another if they thought (regardless of small print and legality) there was a charitable donation attached to it.

I would go the extra way you imply that there are many promotions with caps, and feel it should be made clear when that cap was reached. If I purchased a product with a gift for the first 100 buyers and I was number 2,300 I might reasonably feel dudded if they were still advertising that promotion long after the 100 were reached.


generally yes

A specially marked package attracts a while stocks last indicator (no more stock 100% obvious no special trading conditions apply.)
A finite resource measurable by a buyer
the date range is also clear after 30th sales offer no longer applies.
but it is impossible impracticable or unrealistic to expect we know if we are buyer x in a nation wide retailer

There are quite a number of these caps not just within donations of course , contest entries like you suggest.

Some vendors deal with it well (the 1st 500 to activate the offer) in that manner State government grants, Amex Qantas card offers for example makes it clear your entitlement prior to any financial outlay along with clear feedback.

Beyond the simply opaqueness of 1st x will go to cause.

It can be questionable how that number came to be in the first place by marketing teams,
is that 250k
Well over normal expected monthly sales volume
is it already a fraction of typical weekly sales
it it all advertising write off investment, an illusion of generosity for marketing purposes
It might be really generous and a difficult financial outlay to the company, however because we do not know

But what really matters as we do not know if we get what we thought we paid for
: a purchase on November 22 that may have been different had eligibility been known. Did the charity get what we expected they deserve to get.

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I agree there is a very clear basis for one view point. That of a lack of clarity of whether the benefit to the charity is genuine or out weighed by that to the business from increased sales or goodwill.

The opaqueness of the transaction leaves one open to question the motives,

A fair question?
But far from conclusive one way or the other as to outcome.

Please Note:
If we as consumers are looking to our leadership to provide a solution. We can all purchase a lotto ticket and know the big prize depends on the draw on the night. We could also buy a scratchie and not know the big prize has already gone from our grasp. The winner had been sold and put up their hand, yet the scratchies remain for sale with zero prospect of any other taking the major prize home.

I’ve some empathy with @carlos observation. For consumers looking for change it is possibly a very broad discussion. One with more than a simple charitable consideration.

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Actually you are buying the opportunity at a fixed price prize. The experience of not knowing the result the adrenaline of scratching is what people pay for. It is gambling.

Charity promises per transaction should not be similar to gambling on a prize pool which it seems a number quietly have been doing.