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Army Red Kettles Having Erratic Giving Season

By The NonProfit Times - December 20, 2012

The Salvation Army’s online red kettles (ORKs) are beginning to heat up. That’s a good thing since the actual kettles are barely holding their own.

As of December 18 with one week left in the Red Kettle campaign, online red kettles are nearing $1 million, gaining about $60,000 per day since December 13. Online fundraising stood at 32 percent more than this time last year as of December 13.

“The strength of the Online Red Kettle peer to peer campaign relies on the efforts of our ORK fundraisers, and to that end we have taken strides to engage with them on a consistent basis,” said Jason Wood, director of digital communications for the Alexandria, Va.-based organization. “Our local Salvation Army units around the country have embraced this fundraising platform 100 percent.”

The goal for ORKs is $3 million. Last year, the initiative raised $1.7 million. “We are hopeful that we will meet our $3 million goal,” said Jennifer Byrd, national public relations director. The Red Kettle Campaign, now in its 122nd year, raised a total of $147 million nationwide, a new record.

Offline, the campaign seems to be fairly flat. The Eastern Territory, based in West Nyack, N.Y. and consisting of 11 states in the northeastern U.S., was down about $1 million in the fourth week as compared to 2011. The territory has been able to cut the deficit to $500,000 compared to the same time last year, according to Trish Raines, Eastern Territory director of strategic communications and external relations. The territory has raised approximately $8.5 million as of December 10.

In the 15 states below the Mason-Dixon Line that make up the Atlanta, Ga.-based Southern Territory, fundraising is up 5.5 percent compared to this time last year, according to Chris Priest, territorial director of communications. Donations as of December 13 stood at more than $19 million, up more than $1 million from last year. “It’s good news for us,” said Priest. “A small increase will allow us to provide more benefit to those seeking help.”

The Western Territory, based in Long Beach, Calif., has fluctuated this giving season, according to Territorial Executive Director of Development Chaz Watson. After being up by as much as 8 percent and down by as much as 8 percent, the territory was up 2 percent or about $254,000, at $13.84 million as of December 14. The Western Territory covers 11 states in the continental U.S., plus Hawaii and Alaska.

“We’re still seeing those same up and down trends,” said Watson. “Weekends are the strongest time for giving because there’s more pedestrian traffic at the retail locations where the kettles are. We have places that are up and places that are down, but hopefully things will pull in the right direction.”

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