ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Convenience stores contributed or collected nearly $1 billion to charities over the past year, according to a national survey of retailers released today by NACS. More than 97% of convenience store companies responding to the survey say they donate to charities.
The median charitable contribution per store is $4,100 in direct contributions and $2,500 in donations collected. This means that, as an industry, the 154,195 convenience stores in the United States contribute or collect approximately $990 million a year to benefit charities.
Nearly two-thirds of all convenience retailers (64%) say they support five or more charities in their communities. And more than four in five (83%) companies say they’ve have been engaged in community giving for more than a decade.
Nearly nine in 10 (88%) donate to local charities such as church groups, shelters, health-related organizations and other non-sports groups. More than three in four (76%) contribute to youth sports and activities, and more than two-thirds (69%) contribute to local schools via the PTAs and other fundraising activities.
Four in five convenience store companies (80%) say they’ve made donations when there was a specific emergency or crisis in the community. “We are the stores that people turn to in crisis,” said Steve Williams with Bobby & Steve’s Auto World (Minneapolis).
More than nine in 10 Americans (91%) say that they live within 10 minutes of a convenience store. In rural areas, convenience stores are often the only place in town to buy grocery items, fuel or other products or services. More than 8 in 10 rural Americans (81%) say that a convenience store is within 10 minutes of their home.
More than three in five (62%) retailers say make local product/food donations for charity events and 53% provide product to shelters to support those in need. “We are truly your neighborhood store—not just a stop and go for gas and snacks,” said Jessica Murphy with Humboldt Petroleum (Eureka, Calif.).
Convenience retailers stressed the importance of local contributions that help the immediate community they serve. Landhope Farms (Kennett Square, Penn.) donates a portion of sales from its food program during certain months to support a local charity. “This makes our customers and associates feel good because everyone knows the money is going to a great local cause that helps people in our immediate area,” said the company’s Director of Operations Dennis McCartney.
Retailers also noted that their convenient locations in the community also make them convenient locations for groups to hold events: 60% allow their property to be used by local groups for fundraising events.
They also say that they receive donation requests on a regular basis and tend to select those that are most appropriate for the community. Overall, 60% examine requests on a case-by-case basis while 8% develop a set amount that they contribute to causes annually.
“Our industry must choose wisely,” noted Bob Honkala from Bud’s Citgo (Somonauk, Ill.), which donates to a broad array of charities. “Choose what fits your company best,” added Jay Ricker with Ricker’s (Anderson, Ind.), which contributes to a number of local and national causes.