Box Tops For Education

Box Tops for Education had an online store with the power to generate even more funding for schools. So why weren’t people using it? It turned out the physical box tops had a motivational power that wasn’t being translated online. Box Tops for Education reaches over 30 million households through the pink box tops on General Mills’ cereal boxes and products, but they also have an online fundraising platform called The Marketplace. The Marketplace actually makes it easier to donate on a larger scale, without even needing to pull out a pair of scissors. So why wasn’t it picking up steam? Their team came to us in 2009 to figure out just why that was, and how we could fix it. We looked at their site and found a few ways to make it easier to use. Clear functions like a universal search were missing, so we updated their site to make it more intuitive. We also helped them promote their partnership with Barnes and Noble, called The Reading Room, by adding a direct search to Barnes and Noble. But that left behind a conceptual problem – shopping online just didn’t motivate people the way clipping the actual box tops did. After looking into it, we realized that users had trouble conceptualizing the donations their online shopping generated, and the raw numbers lacked an emotional value that the box tops embodied.

Fixing the problem ended up being simple. Instead of displaying their impact in terms of dollars raised, we created the concept of eBox Tops.

Suddenly customers were seeing how easy it was to generate as many as 35 box tops just by shopping online. To enhance the new system, we added the concept of Bonus Box Tops, a loyalty program where, for every 100 eBox Tops earned, you get 10 bonus box tops. Finally, we changed the way that the site crunched numbers to provide more immediate feedback for shoppers. They can now see the eBox Tops they’ve earned within a week, and users have the option to receive email notifications of their accomplishments.


Since restructuring the online system, sales have gone up approximately 50%. We hope that the new structure builds motivation and trust, empowering users to know that by just shopping online, they can help their school of choice.