All year long, I clip those little “Box Tops for Education” thingies, and the kids bring them in to their school. I didn’t know it until this school year, but the Box Tops program also has something called “Marketplace,” where certain online stores donate a percentage of your purchase to the school. I’m doing a lot of shopping right now ANYWAY, so this is a nice way to help the school without having to volunteer to help out at the Winter Fair (*shudder*). Plus, as it turned out, it was an excuse to do a little giveaway, and I really like doing giveaways.
When you sign up, you can decline to tell them how many children you have and what your income is (I declined both), but all the other information is mandatory—including birthdate, which I think is wrong of them to require. I deserve an “I heart my school” button for giving them my birthdate anyway, and now they’d better remember to send me a bouquet on my special day.
There’s a list of all the participating online stores and what percentage of your purchase they donate. There are a ton of them, but for example: Avon donates 4%, Gap donates 2%, Best Buy donates .5%, 1-800-Flowers donates 8%, Old Navy donates 2%, Pottery Barn donates 3%, Target donates 1.5%, Lands’ End donates 4.5%, and Shutterfly donates 3.5%. There’s also a “Holly Deals” section that tells you if any stores are offering special deals.
I tried out the system at Barnes & Noble (they donate SIX percent, which is pretty awesome) while shopping for Christmas gifts: I needed some books and also some gift cards. It was no big thing to do it: I just started at the Marketplace site instead of going directly to Barnes & Noble, and then once I clicked the Barnes & Noble icon, everything about the shopping was exactly the same as usual.
1. You have to register. You have to allow cookies so they’ll recognize you.
2. Every time you shop at one of those stores, you have to remember to get to the store through the Marketplace site, not by going directly to the store’s site.
3. It takes weeks for your purchases to be recorded, so you’d have to get all finicky about recording it yourself and checking back later if you wanted to know for sure your purchases had been credited to the school.
1. The money adds up, with very little effort. My Barnes & Noble purchase sent just over $3.00 to the kids’ school—which doesn’t sound like much, but it’s like clipping THIRTY of those little box-top coupons, and it was for a purchase I was going to make anyway. I had to do one extra click, and the school got $3.00 *poof!* like that.
2. Friends and relatives who don’t have kids in school and don’t mind handling the minor hassle can have their purchases go to your kid’s school, too.
I think it’s a great program: I’m all for ideas that let me donate without having to actually, um, donate. You can visit the Box Tops Marketplace to get more info, and here’s where to go to sign up (upper righthand corner).
I know it’s a hurdle to do new things like this, but I really think it’s a good program and a good idea, so I was trying to think of a way to PUSH you a little without actually NAGGING or WHINING. Here’s what I did: while I was shopping, I got an extra $10 gift card. If you go through the hassle of signing up, leave a comment saying so and I’ll enter you in a random drawing for the gift card. You can give it to a teacher or to the bus driver or to the mail carrier or to a friend, or you can use it to buy yourself a little something. I’ll do the drawing next Wednesday (November 26), after Linda’s post replaces this one, and I’ll email the winner and also put the winner’s info here on this post.
Edit 11-26-2008: The winner is Samantha Jo Campen! I’m emailing you now about the gift card!