The Salvation Army of Vancouver Red Kettle campaign — the annual holiday fundraiser where volunteers collect monetary donations outside of grocery stores and other businesses — is seeing 40 percent fewer donations compared with last year.
“While we have already committed to help hundreds of families with Christmas food and gifts, this drop in revenue will seriously impact our ability to help families throughout the year,” Salvation Army Vancouver business manager Steve Rusk said.
Last year, the organization collected roughly $308,000 by the end of the campaign, which concludes today.
This year, organizers were aiming to raise $300,000, which makes up 15 percent of the organization’s annual budget. On Thursday, Rusk said meeting that goal will be a challenge.
“It puts us in a really tight spot,” he said. “From what I have seen, donations are lower than average for our virtual campaign as well.”
The Salvation Army Vancouver sought to raise $10,000 through its Virtual Red Kettles campaign. As of Christmas Eve, the campaign had raised $1,886.
Mail solicitation makes up the rest of the organization’s annual budget, and those funds are so far down 50 percent compared with last year, according to Rusk.
However, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are typically big fundraising days for the Red Kettle campaign. On Thursday, Rusk said that donations for that day matched last year’s levels. Additionally, the organization typically sees increased donations during end-of-year giving.
“We’ve got some ground to make up,” Rusk said. “Making up for prior days at the end of the Red Kettle campaign is unlikely, but end-of-year giving could definitely help.”
Multiple factors might account for the decrease in donations to the organization, such as the COVID-19 pandemic limiting in-person shopping.
A Wall Street Journal op-ed published Dec. 16 criticized The Salvation Army nationally for being run by “woke-idealogues,” pointing to a discussion guide on racism that was issued by The Salvation Army’s International Headquarters in London and later withdrawn.
The organization’s national commander, Kenneth G. Hodder, refuted that claim in an open letter Wednesday, writing: “The Salvation Army has never been about politics.” Hodder wrote that the op-ed negatively impacted donations for The Salvation Army across the United States.
Rusk declined to comment on the controversy, saying he was not authorized to represent the organization nationally.
“We can only speculate as to the reason for that reduction,” he said. “There is no real solid way to measure donors’ motivation for giving or not.”
In Vancouver, if the Red Kettle campaign doesn’t meet its goal of raising $300,000, Rusk said that donations at any time of the year will go toward the organization’s annual budget.