Juggling and the Fine Art of Fundraising
The funny thing about the Red Kettle campaign is that the Salvation Army never sets a national goal.
"The reason behind that is that the Red Kettle campaign is actually conducted in local communities, and the money that they raise in the local communities stays in their towns," Hood explains. "Every community will establish their own goal, but we never set a national goal."
The only real goal is to raise as much money as possible for the needy during the campaign. Of course, the Salvation Army hopes that the total keeps going up. That's why it has such a comprehensive media strategy that incorporates every fundraising channel. Beyond the channels already mentioned, the Salvation Army sends a lot of direct mail, as well. The direct mail it sends while the Red Kettle campaign is going on doesn't actually drive people to the Red Kettle campaign, but it does do donor acquisition for long-time operational support, which in turn leads to more donations for the Red Kettle.
However, the main media strategy specifically aimed at the Red Kettle in 2010 involved public relations via television, newspapers and online communications. The street canvassing of the red kettles and bell-ringers themselves targeted pretty much anyone that was out doing their Christmas shopping or running errands — everyone from traditional 65-plus donors to baby boomers, millennials to children.
"Many families will bring their children to the red kettle to teach them how to make a contribution," Hood says. "For many kids, it's the first time they ever have recognized that they're giving money to help other people."
That teaches children at a young age the importance of giving and provides great brand recognition for the Salvation Army.
The online communications, specifically social media and blogs, targeted more of the younger generations — millennials and younger — to educate emerging generations about the Salvation Army as a long-term cultivation strategy.