Posted by Barry Silverstein on November 30, 2009 06:17 PM
The holidays are traditionally a time of charitable giving. But this year, the economy has forced fund raisers like the Salvation Army and Sidewalk Santas to keep up with the times.
The Salvation Army is arguably the most visible non-profit brand on the street, known for its red kettles and bell-ringers who brave cold weather to collect spare change from shoppers outside retail stores. This year, though, many of those kettles will take more than cash.
The Salvation Army has placed "plastic kettles" -- kettles that accept debit and credit cards -- in 120 U.S. cities. The new kettles have wireless card readers attached to them, much like the ones you'd find at gas stations, so not having any change is no excuse.
"It used to be people would spend their money at the store counters, walk out and drop their change in the kettles. They don't shop that way anymore," said Major Don Gilger, coordinator of the Salvation Army of El Paso County. "We all realize that people are carrying less cash than they did 10 years ago."
Seems that New York City's "Sidewalk Santas" has changed its approach too... the Santas have been sidelined this year due to the poor economy. The 107-year old program has no money to hire the Santas, homeless men who used to collect donations outside pricey stores. Instead, Sidewalk Santas is collecting money online -- via credit card, of course.
Charitable giving is big business in the U.S. Despite the economic meltdown of 2008, total giving to charitable organizations last year was still over $307 billion, according to Charity Navigator. The majority of that amount -- 75% -- came from individuals.