Salvation Army struggles to keep up donations

Trend leads bell ringers to have card readers on hand for donors without cash
Salvation Army struggles to keep up donations

The Salvation Army relies on kettle donations to help sustain its programs throughout the year, but after falling short last year, the organization is hoping that utilizing technology will help boost donations.

“Knowing the money really helps people that can’t afford food and all the things Salvation Army does, it’s just a little donation that I just give,” said longtime volunteer, Danny Kessler.

Kessler has been donating his time to ring bells for the Salvation Army for the last seven years with sleigh bells in hand, Kessler sets a goal to ring at least 10 times every year.

“The money you receive when you’re ringing, you know it’s helping families and people in need,” Kessler said. “Especially around the holidays when people (are) looking for a warm meal, how can you not want to help out if you can?”

Last winter Dane County’s Salvation Army missed its goal by almost $300,000, putting programs that help sustain families through the winter at risk.

“We did have to use some reserves,” Salvation Army Maj. Loren Carter said. “Those are depleted now, and we have nothing to fall back on at the end of fiscal year ’15. There’s nothing left, so it is very critical that we make up that difference this year.”

With a goal of collecting $750,000 dollars in kettle donations this year, the Salvation Army is turning toward technology to boost donations by using card readers at select locations for people who don’t have extra change.

“We find many people are carrying less and less cash, and we notice this even in the proceeds in previous years that the amount of cash is going down,” Carter said.

Kessler is not the only one ringing his bell to help the Salvation Army make its goal, with 72 donation sites the salvation army relies on volunteers from all over the county to spread holiday cheer.

“This is the biggest fundraiser for them for the whole year and there are a lot of people that take it for granted the giving and receiving of the gifts. When you can step away from that and help someone’s out besides direct family or helping someone that really needs the help that’s really important,” said volunteer, Zack Nelson.

With every ring of the bell and every donation counting towards helping to make someone else’s holiday a little brighter.

“It feels good because you know that money is going to go to a good cause. It just makes it worth it to be out here ringing the bells,” said Nelson.