Two weeks ago Jerry Lewis accepted the humanitarian award at the Oscars for his many years of supporting and raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. I remember as a child seeing the cans on the counter at my local grocery store, with pictures of "Jerry's kids" on the label and the little slot you would slip your spare coins into.
I doubt Lewis was the first one who came up with what I call "the can on the counter" fundraising idea, since collecting spare change in some way has probably been around since money was invented. But this method really works. Retail businesses, especially, still use it an effective way to raise money from their customers for the charities that they support.
Just in my town I have seen several efforts of this nature. Yesterday, I was at a Safeway Supermarket where there was a plastic container to collect money for the Safeway Foundation. Safeway Foundation supports such causes as Muscular Dystrophy, Breast and Prostate cancer and hunger initiatives. My local hairdresser has a can for a local athletics group. Sometimes the business has chosen to support a specific charity for their own reasons. Other times, charities have approached the store and asked to merely put the can out on the counter.
This method costs the business nothing in time or labor, yet brings in a good amount for the charity, raises awareness for the cause, and brings good will towards the business.