House-to-house collections were arranged in 23 London boroughs. The collections required a new Act of Parliament, the House-to-House Collections Act of March 1940. The act required that collectors had to be "fit and proper persons," wore identification badges, carried a certificate of authority and had to place all the money in a sealed collecting tin.
[Among other supportive initiatives] 200 permanent and 150 temporary charity shops were opened to benefit the fund. The stocks were made up entirely of donated items. The phenomenon of a chain of charity shops between 1939 and 1945 pointed the way for the subsequent massive growth in charity shops over the following years. It is estimated that there are now more than 7,500 charity shops in the U.K.
Christie's held auctions of gifts in kind in aid of the appeal. Other initiatives included the Red Cross and St. John book campaign and the stamp appeal. Numerous events were held in aid of the appeal including films, exhibitions, galas and concerts.
All sections of society were involved in the appeal, and large support was provided by schools, churches and children. Dentists did their bit by donating proceeds from the sale of the metal from used toothpaste tubes to the fund.
The appeal closed on June 30, 1945, having raised an unprecedented £54,324,408 (£5.5 billion).
The American Red Cross also ran an appeal and raised an astonishing $784 million (£194,057,406 then or £19.6 billion today) from the American public. Needless to say, other Red Cross Societies undertook similar appeals during the war.
When one considers that £4.3 billion was pledged internationally for the 2004 south Asian tsunami, it is clear that no U.K. fundraising appeal has ever been as successful as The Duke of Gloucester's Red Cross and St. John appeal. The appeal allowed the British public to come together to help directly those affected by the Second World War. The public's generosity is all the more remarkable as the money was raised at a time when the country was tightening its belt, and "make do and mend" and rationing were the norm.