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Red Bucket E-Donations
News Bytes 12/3/2019 20 Comments

Ring-a-ling, hear them ring. The bright red buckets are popping up outside grocery stores and shopping malls. No change? No problem! This year, there’s a new way for you to donate to the classic kettle. Try using your smartphone.

It’s the 129th year for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaigns and lively bell ringers. With the late Thanksgiving holiday, the charity has six fewer days to raise cash. Officials hope mobile options will help make up for lost time.

Heather Bishop recently used the non-cash option in Chicago. She made her electronic donation while keeping an eye on her two young children after a stop at the American Girl store. “It was fast, very easy,” Bishop says. “All of my giving is online.”

The Pew Research Center says Americans’ dependence on physical cash has declined over time. Evidently, about 46% of Americans “don’t really worry much” about leaving home without cash because of other payment options.

Salvation Army leaders hope adding e-payment options will boost giving to the campaign—which makes up 10% of its annual fundraising. Those donations help provide housing, food, and other support to people in poverty.

The Salvation Army has tested other cashless options in recent years. They’ve tried a text message-based program and credit and debit card readers that plugged into bell ringers’ phones. But both were too time-consuming compared to dropping cash into the kettle. Donors prefer “an easy and quick” option, Salvation Army community relations director Dale Bannon says.

The change appears subtle—a tag containing a microchip is affixed to the Salvation Army sign attached to each kettle stand.

The e-option is definitely easy. Donors tap their phone to the tag. That opens a donation form that suggests giving $5, $10, or $25. Donors also can type in a different amount. Then they hit “send.”

There is one financial downside to these non-cash gifts: They trigger processing fees.

Still, bell ringer Carolyn Harper says she hopes the new system will increase donations. Her only concern is that cold temperatures in Chicago and other parts of the country will discourage people from taking time to use it.

“Right now, it’s easy,” she says. “Hopefully it works out when it’s really cold out.”

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. — 2 Corinthians 9:7

(Bell ringer Carolyn Harper points to two ways to donate via mobile device to the Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Campaign on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

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Most recent comments

On the one hand, this is a

On the one hand, this is a good thing, because it means that more people may be willing to give. However, it makes me sad that more and more places are adding technology stuff. Sure, technology is helpful, but generations of people have survived without it.

Seeing the bell ringers and

Seeing the bell ringers and hearing their bells makes it really Christmas. Whenever I see one I try to get my mom to donate to them. I'm glad they are doing this because they will probably raise more money. @Lena P I agree, it does make me sad that a lot of people don't carry cash but I think this will help The Salvation Army.

Ring Ring is rite! ☺

I see these people everywhere! Sometimes I feel bad for then, like when it's 32 degrees and there still ringing that bell and singing. I hope more people will donate to the Salvation army. But I wonder how much the processing fees are? i haven't seen any electric ones yet but i'm shour after i post this i will see them everywhere!!! lol!!
Do those people who ring the bells get paid? I hope they do!

It's a good thing, mostly

It's a good thing, mostly, but I do think that people should carry at least some cash and not just digital money.

One thing..

I haven't actually ever seen bell ringers, so I don't know what it's like to see them.

To Above

Oh! Do you live in the USA?


Interesting. I haven't seen any of the Salvation Army bell ringers yet.

@Arlie B

How do you volunteer?

@ Arile B

Oh!! I think they should get paid!! That's a hard looking job!! : O

there's usually one or more

there's usually one or more outside our Walmart every year. the ones i've heard say stuff like: hohoho! Merry Christmas! Jesus is the reason for the season! Hohoho!

@ Lily S

The ones around here say : Hi you Christmas angles, sorry i didn't get the door for you ,jingle bells, Gloria in the highest, in egshelsies day O Gloria, sorry i didn't get the door for you, merry Christmas ladies.
All at the same time. But some just sing or say Merry Christmas.

The ones I see don't say

The ones I see don't say anything. The just ring the bell very loudly but the don't talk.

@ Emilia


@N&M A., way up near the top of the comments section

Yes, I do.

@ Maddy

Oh. OK. By the way my name is Nadia. :-)

@Nadia A.

Okay! I saw just one little Salvation Army bucket at Washington, D.C. during our winter vacation two days ago, but no bell ringer.

@ Maddy

Oh. Ok! :-)

20th comment

this is awesome! I hope Salvation Army gets more donations. I agree with Lena P' s first comment

Has anyone else seen this? I

Has anyone else seen this? I've seen the bell ringers, but never the digital thing.

@Bella C

I haven't seen any bell ringers yet.

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