This collaborative project investigates what the Waitrose 'Community Matters' scheme tells us about consumer preferences for local charities. Through the scheme, each Waitrose store makes a monthly donation to three local charities in proportion to in-store customer votes. Community Matters is a leading example of a scheme that combines corporate philanthropy with local democracy. Customers can direct the distribution of philanthropic funds to what they see as the most worthy causes. Customers can also respond to local circumstances, and favour charities that address important local issues. Customer voting can therefore help corporate philanthropy to be responsive to local needs.
The research has considered more than 70,000 donations across more than 300 locations. The analysis provides insights into which characteristics of charities are favoured by Waitrose customers and describe how voting patterns vary across locations. It also reveals tendencies for customer voting, and the resulting corporate donations, to reflect local circumstances in the environs of each Waitrose store. This ensures that corporate philanthropy is targeted at the most prevalent and acute local needs.