"The Christmas season is when we're most visible, mainly because of our physical Red Kettles in front of stores," said Melissa Temme, PR director for the Salvation Army National Headquarters. "We're trying to use that to push an online presence that we can continue to foster a relationship into the rest of the year."
The online program has been a way to engage with younger donors and volunteers, Temme said, and the Twitter channel has been a great way to spread news about the Salvation Army and promote the Online Red Kettle program. That program allows donors to virtually donate, as well as encourage friends and family to donate online to their Kettle.
"This has been, true to form, virally growing within the organization," Temme said of the digital strategy. "Some of the initiatives we are doing this year have been very deliberate, like the Online Red Kettles. But Twitter was just an idea that a few of us wanted to engage in."
The organization is also testing a text donation program and credit card machines on some physical kettles. Other PR, with help from Xenophon Strategies, AOR for the group's national headquarters, includes events with The Jonas Brothers and the National Hockey League, as well as media outreach to philanthropy and business reporters.
"We don't ever anticipate losing our physical Red Kettles," Temme said. "It's a big part of Christmas and is a statement about the fact that we're out there and ready to serve. At the same time, we want to make sure we don't shoot ourselves in the foot by ignoring new technology for the sake of keeping tradition."