Juggling and the Fine Art of Fundraising
Finally, online fundraising for the Red Kettle campaign increased 19 percent over 2009, bringing in $13.7 million. The numbers speak for themselves. The Red Kettle campaign set yet another fundraising record in its 120th year.
Still, even with the record- setting numbers and long history, there were challenges along the way. For starters, the weather was a real impact in 2010, especially in the cold-weather areas of the country.
"The weather hit us pretty hard, preventing us from having bell-ringers out there," Hood says. "When you can't be visible, can't be out there in the street, especially on a weekend — one of the snow storms was a Friday and Saturday, which are typically very productive days — that had us nervous.
"We were thinking we were going to have to report a decline for a while. But in the tend, it's always fascinating that on those last few days you get closer to Christmas, the volume of giving that comes in to the red kettles [increases dramatically]," he adds.
Then there is the ongoing challenge of keeping volunteers. It's not easy to find people who are willing to stand out there and ring the bell in cold climates. And going forward, there's a fair labor lawsuit filed by retailers demanding that they have equal rights to set up outside of stores, like nonprofits do, to sell their goods. That could surely affect the Salvation Army's capacity to have bell-ringers stationed throughout the nation.
However, the 120-year Red Kettle campaign shows no signs of vanishing, evidenced by the record-setting fundraising totals for a sixth straight year even in the face of a recession. That's a testament to both the Salvation Army and the generosity of the American donor.
"There's two issues that I believe have impacted our success," Hood says. "We've been very aggressive about creating a top-of-mind awareness. So I think we can take credit for some of it. We have been very aggressive with the multichannel communications in this digital age. We've worked very hard to build relationships with emerging generations.