The Salvation Army's Red Kettle is Now Online

Photo by Salvation Army USA West

Is it possible to take a simple 19th century concept and bring it into the 21st century, while retaining it’s original charm?

The Salvation Army is having quite a bit of success in doing just that with their online Red Kettle Campaign and other digital efforts.

While we normally associate the Red Kettle with street corner bell ringers, both the kettle and the bell can be found online. The digital version of the Red Kettle has been going on for a few years, and last year it helped the organization raise $1.7 million toward a record-setting year of $147.6 million. While that’s a small portion of overall giving, it is growing each year, and the goal for the online kettles this year is $3 million.

The online kettles allow users to create their own giving destinations, form teams, and compete with other teams to see who can raise the most. Plus, with a Red Kettle mobile app, giving is even easier. And some street kettles are even accepting credit cards, or donations via barcode scanning.

The beauty of the digital Red Kettles is that they come complete with widgets to promote across the web, on Facebook, or your blog.

Major Bryan Smith of the Lancaster Corps of the Salvation Army says the new online giving coupled with social media brings them to an audience they’ve never had before.

“We are reaching out to a much younger demographic that might not normally give,” he says.

Major Smith also says that, locally, he’s seen a 700% increase in electronic giving this year over last year. And he credits social media with much of that success.

“Social media gives us a world without walls,” he says. “We get greater communication more quickly.”

Online word of mouth, and the viral nature of the web are helping one of the oldest nonprofits continue helping those in need.

And those street corner brass bands? Oh, they’re still there in some places, but they are now being supplemented with some of the best music around. This year’s Red Kettle Kickoff campaign featured music from Kenny Chesney, and they hosted a “Rock the Red Kettle” concert last weekend with Owl City, Hot Chelle Rae, and others.

You can find the Salvation Army’s red kettles on numerous street corners, and across the web. Plus, there are corporate sponsorships with retailers like J.C Penney and Walmart.

The Salvation Army is doing a great job of staying true to its original mission, and original methods, established in the 19th century, while adapting to 21st century technologies.

Oh, and that bell that you hear them ringing at the kettles? You can get one of your very own . . . for your smartphone. Just download the bellringer app, and you’re good to go!