Cashless Red Kettle Options Go National

Coming off a few disappointing fundraising holiday seasons, the Salvation Army is making it easier for donors to give back during the Christmas season by making a gift online with Apple Pay or Google Pay at participating red kettles. 

The Salvation Army will place smart chips and QR codes on red kettle signs across the country, allowing shoppers to simply “bump” or scan their phone to make a customizable online donation.

Shoppers will be directed to a custom donation page that accepts Apple or Google payment options. The funds will be distributed to local Salvation Army units based on the donor’s billing ZIP code, and an email receipt will be sent directly to their phone. 

“We’re humbled by the generosity of those who give to our red kettles, and we want to make it as easy as possible for them to support their local community,” said Lt. Colonel Ward Matthews, national spokesman for The Salvation Army in Alexandria, Va. “We know not all shoppers carry dollars or coins to drop in, so we’ve made it convenient for them to join our Fight for Good and provide help for the more than 23 million people we are honored to serve each year.”

Dale Bannon, assistant national community relations and development director, said that digital options have been tested the past few years but that this is the first national rollout of such an option. “So many people say ‘I just don’t carry cash anymore’,” said Bannon. The digital option allows people to give, he said.

Giving to The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign was essentially flat across all channels for 2018. End-of-year-donations totaled $433.7 million between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, down 0.85 percent from the $437.4 million reported for 2017.

Donations to the traditional Red Kettle campaign were down between 1 and 2 percent for the third consecutive year. The campaign raised $142.7 million, about 1.25 percent less than the $144.5 million reported in 2017, following declines of 1.9 percent and 1.54 percent in 2017 and 2016, respectively. It’s the lowest total since 2013 when $135.9 million was reported.

Online giving through salvationarmyusa.org totaled $31.4 million for the 2018 giving season, down 1.26 percent from the $31.8 million reported for 2017. Donations through direct mail, 1-800-SAL-ARMY and other cash gifts totaled the largest portions of year-end-giving at a total $259.6 million. The decline mirrors what many national charities encountered at year-end 2018.

There are six additional days for the 2019 campaign. Thanksgiving 2018 was on November 22. This year it is Nov. 28. While kettles are already on the street in many areas, the official start is the annual “kick-off” with the Dallas Cowboys game on Thanksgiving. Singer Ellie Goulding will perform at the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving game.