Touchdown Launches Red Kettle Revenue Scramble

Ezekiel Elliot has been carrying the Dallas Cowboys all seasons long to the best record in the National Football League (NFL). This week, the NFL’s leading rusher put The Salvation Army on his back, sparking the highest spike in “online conversation volume” that the charity has ever seen, to say nothing of the $1.6 million in online donations through Wednesday.

Hoping Elliott can spark a comeback in the metaphorical fourth quarter of this year’s lagging Red Kettle campaign, The Salvation Army launched the #ZekeKettleLeap social media campaign, explaining that a $21 donation can feed a family for three days.

In-person Red Kettle donations are still being counted but in some metropolitan areas this year’s campaign is down by as much as one-third, according to Lt. Col. Ron Busroe, national secretary for community relations and development for The Salvation Army.

After scoring a touchdown in Sunday Night Football’s national broadcast, Elliott leaped into The Salvation Army’s giant red kettle set up behind the end zone, with cameras following him, sparking a social media frenzy. Online donations to The Salvation Army spiked 61 percent into Monday morning, up more than $182,000 compared to the previous week.

The organization’s iconic Red Kettle campaign has been down about 16 percent overall, according to Busroe, likely the result of bad weather across parts of the country. Online donations, however, have been up 11 percent compared to last year.

Elliott, who wears No. 21, ultimately made a $21,000 donation to The Salvation Army. The NFL’s top rookie had expected to be fined by the league since he drew a penalty on the play; the giant red kettle was considered a prop in his touchdown celebration. He vowed to match any fine with a donation but the league relented and did not fine him.

Busroe encouraged people to continue to give to traditional red kettles and online at redkettlereason.org during the last couple of days of the campaign, which runs through Christmas Eve on Saturday.

Last year’s Red Kettle campaign was up 3.4 percent, raising almost $150 million. Online donations, which made up about a fifth of contributions, were up 7.5 percent.

For the past 20 years, The Salvation Army has kicked off its annual Red Kettle campaign during halftime of the annual Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day game.