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Human Resources News Nonprofit

5Q: Major Paul Cain, Delaware State Coordinator for Salvation Army


What is the status of the tradition of Salvation Army bell-ringers at retail establishments across America?

The Salvation Army Red Kettle is a tradition that goes back over 100 years. Even with more restrictions on bell-ringing at some establishments, and shoppers carrying less cash every year, the annual proceeds from the Red Kettle are growing nationally every year. In 2016, over $150 million was raised through the bell-ringing at the Red Kettle locations. Here in Delaware, our goal for 2017 is $350,000.

Has this well-known approach evolved and what are the challenges?

The biggest challenge for us is finding enough volunteers to ring bells. Even though we hit our goal in New Castle County last year of $200,000, it could have been more. Over 60 percent of the possible volunteer hours were not filled. Another challenge for us is that there are fewer and fewer locations that will accept
our Red Kettles.

Even so, the Red Kettles remain an amazing fundraising tradition for The Salvation Army.At the Red Kettle, we have the most diverse group of donors, representing all groups of age, race, and socio-economic categories. It is might be the only place where even a penny will be thankfully accepted as a cherished donation.A study was once done that indicated that a child’s first charitable donation is most likely to be at a
Red Kettle than anywhere else.

How have credit/debit cards affected the red kettles and donations to the Salvation Army?

As we’ve moved into the digital age, The Salvation Army has established an Online Red Kettles Program (onlineredkettle.org). With this new initiative, individuals, groups, or organizations can set up fundraising teams and then invite friends and family to donate online.

What percentage of Salvation Army Delaware’s donations happen during the Christmas season?

Typically, half of our annual fundraising takes place during November, December and January. Income from our Red Kettles represents about 20 percent of our annual individual giving. It should be noted that we also work very hard to do the most good with the donations we receive. Nearly 91 cents of every dollar goes towards direct service in Delaware.

The Salvation Army meets so many needs between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but what do you do after Christmas?

Yes, the holiday season is a very busy time for us, but the truth is we are busy every day serving the people in Delaware. In fact, nearly 1,000 Delawareans are served by the Salvation Army every day. Some of the programs and services we provide year-round in New Castle County include: emergency housing residence for women and children, senior program centers, child day-care and after-school programs, community centers, family crisis services, food pantries, youth character building programs, adult rehabilitation programs, and code purple emergency care for the homeless.

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