Donations to The Salvation Army’s iconic red kettles set a new national record of $130 million in 2008, surpassing the previous record of $118 million set in 2007. The $130 million raised represents a 10 percent growth in donations year-over-year. The final figures were released late last week.
Donations to The Salvation Army’s iconic red kettles set a new national record of $130 million in 2008, surpassing the previous record of $118 million set in 2007. The $130 million raised represents a 10 percent growth in donations year-over-year.
The final figures were released late last week.
This past year, the Christmas Kettle campaign in Galesburg raised $100,699, short of its goal of $123,000, and shy of 2007’s $104,000. The Register-Mail paper kettle campaign, which sends all money collected to the Christmas Kettle, raised $11,021, about $250 more than its goal and a slight increase from the $10,772 readers contributed in 2007.
“We know that Americans always give more in time of need, so we were confident that they would again respond to the call with an outstanding show of generosity,” said Commissioner Israel L. Gaither, national commander of The Salvation Army.
Donations to red kettles at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores accounted for more than $34 million or 26 percent of the total raised. Following a $1.25 million grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation, Wal-Mart stores and Sam’s Club locations hosted bell ringers and red kettles Nov. 8 for a pre-campaign “special day of giving” to give extra support to local communities facing tough economic times. The annual Cubs-Cardinals challenge, a highlight of the local campaign, was Nov. 22 at Wal-Mart in Seminary Square to kick off the campaign.
In early December, the local Salvation Army received an anonymous gift of a $50 U.S. gold coin, at the time gold was selling for $744 on the New York spot market. On Dec. 26, officials here received a belated Christmas present in the form of a $5,000 check, which the donor gave on the condition that the gift remained anonymous.
To help spur donations in 2008, The Salvation Army offered new tech-savvy ways to give. For donors who don’t regularly carry money, the Army tested cashless red kettles in Denver and Dallas, which made it possible to donate via credit or debit card. Several locations piloted a text messaging service that allowed cell phone users to contribute via their phone bills. Internet giving, meanwhile, rose an impressive 28 percent for a total of $10 million.
“We also started using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, which allows friends and family of our supporters to donate more easily than years past via the Internet,” said Commissioner Gaither.
In addition, The Salvation Army worked with several corporate partners, which hosted kettles at stores, ran Red Kettle events, made direct donations, and/or engaged in other promotional activities, including the National Hockey League, Shell Oil and Target.
The Salvation Army kicked off the 2008 Red Kettle Campaign with the Dallas Cowboys and the chart-topping Jonas Brothers. Nearly $1.2 billion has been raised in the 12 years the Army has worked alongside the Cowboys.
As part of the drive, more than 25,000 Salvation Army volunteers fan out across the country to ring bells and solicit spare change donations to the red kettles from holiday shoppers. The nickels, dimes, quarters and dollars (and the occasional diamond ring, or gold tooth) are all used to help those in the communities where they were raised. Last year, the money helped The Salvation Army serve nearly 29 million Americans in need, including nearly 5 million who received holiday assistance, such as toys, coats, rent and utility aid, among other services.
John Pulliam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org