Boycott Watch
December 1, 2004
Why Target banned the Salvation Army
The story behind the story
   The news is out - Target Stores are not allowing the Salvation Army outside their stores to collect money for the needy. Target claims that they merely removed an exception to their corporate policy for charitable donations. This has resulted in a national backlash as some people are now boycotting Target because they banned the Salvation Army.

   This is not the first time Target has been hit with boycotts. Over the past year or so, Boycott Watch has been in contact with Target regarding stories about veterans boycotting Target claiming Target is anti-veteran. As the story goes, a veteran asked a local Target store manager if he could collect money for his veterans group outside the store and the request denied. Emails circulated and a boycott was born.

   The store manager failed to explain to the veteran that it is the corporate policy of Target to only allow the Salvation Army to collect money outside its stores. The boycott email circulated but was later retracted after the veteran learned that the store manager was merely following corporate policy and Target was not anti-veteran. That was fair and the veteran sent out an apology email. Boycott Watch helped to break the rumor with detailed a report on the matter. They story, however, did not end there.

   Boycott Watch received an email from a US Army Sergeant who was called up to duty from the Oklahoma National Guard to serve in Afghanistan. The Sergeant had sent a letter to Target asking for a donation of schools supplies such as pencils and spiral notebooks for kids in Afghanistan who are now attending schools for the first time in their lives in buildings that US soldiers built with their own hands. The US Army can build school buildings but they can not requisition school supplies through the Pentagon purchasing system.

   The reply the Sergeant received from Target was confusing. Target told him that they could not donate anything, even open box customer returned school supplies, to them because all such requests must come from the Military Public Affairs Office in accordance with military (UCMJ) rules. The only problem was that the request in fact came directly from the Military Public Affairs Office. Boycott Watch was also confused by the Target reply, so we decided to call our contact at Target to assist the soldier.

   Our contact explained that the Targets corporate policy is to only donate in areas where Target has stores. We explained that US soldiers live where the Target stores are, and therefore shop at Target stores, but that did not persuade Target to donate any school supplies, not even a pencil. Boycott Watch was also unable to get an explanation as to why two very different rejections were given for the same donation request.

   Boycott Watch faxed and sent overnight letters to both the President and CEO of Target explaining how this would be a great public relations opportunity for Target because even a small donation would put an end to the bad publicity they received from the email claiming that Target was anti-veteran. Target never replied.

   Now, suddenly, Target claims that the new exclusion of the Salvation Army from outside their stores is meant to remove an exception from their corporate policy. The reality is that allowing the Salvation Army to collect money in front of their stores was their corporate policy and not an exception according to what Target told us when we helped them break the rumor about Target being anti-veteran.

   Target has yet to explain to Boycott Watch or the Sergeant why we received two very different answers to the same request. Target has yet to answer the Boycott Watch letter to the corporate executives asking for an exception to their donation policy. Instead, Target tightened their donation policy and deleted the Salvation Army from their policy as the only organization allowed to collect donations in front of their stores.

   This may not be the only recent charity tightening by Target. According the Sergeant, he remembers Target being a sponsor of the US Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Campaign, yet Target is not listed as a sponsor this year on the Toys for Tots campaign web site.

   Target had a great opportunity to show they support our troops and burry a rumor about the store chain being anti-veteran. Instead, they chose to exclude the Salvation Army from their presence and Boycott Watch now questions if we were fooled by Target and their claim that they are not anti-veteran.

   Target made some obviously poor choices. Boycott Watch is now once again receiving countless emails from people saying they are boycotting Target. Now we all know why.

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 ©2004 Boycott Watch