Local nonprofits feel pinch of fewer volunteers, donations

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The Twin Cities Salvation Army still needs hundreds of bell ringers to fill shifts for its Red Kettle Campaign.

The nonprofit reports being down about 4,000 hours compared to last year, which marks a one-third decline in volunteering for the campaign.

“This campaign every year brings in about $2 million dollars just in the kettles,” said Major Scott Shelbourn, Twin Cities commander for the Salvation Army.

He said having people ring bells is critical for the cause.

“The kettles only bring in about a dollar an hour without a bell ringer. But you put somebody out there with a bell, it brings in up to $60 an hour,” Shelbourn said.

The money raised through the Red Kettle Campaign funds Salvation Army services, such as a shelter for the homeless, free meals and other necessities for families in need.

“No matter how much we raise, it’s going to go directly to helping people, but we can only help as much as people give. Once we run out of funds, we run out of funds,” Shelbourn said.

He noted donations are down 10% to 15% right now.

Other Minnesota nonprofits also report being stretched thin.

“Our donations are down a little bit as well,” said Rinal Ray, CEO at People Serving People, a shelter for homeless families in Minneapolis.

She noted the decline in donations comes at a time of increased need across the Twin Cities, as families suffer the impacts of inflation.

GiveMN, which supports thousands of nonprofits across the state, noted a slight decline in giving on Give to the Max Day last month as well.

CEO Jake Blumberg said $34.3 million was raised in 2021, with about $300,000 less coming in for 2022.

“During the pandemic, folks had so few choices of how to spend their expendable resources that often charities were the beneficiaries of some additional giving. What we’re seeing in 2022 is a decrease in that ceiling across the country but not all the way down to the floor of pre-pandemic giving,” Blumberg said.

He noted many non-profits are also feeling the burden of rising costs due to inflation.

“Giving whatever we can, whether that’s our time, our energy or five or ten dollars can make such a significant difference for nonprofits who are working at scale,” Blumberg said. “Being generous this time of year when the winter is cold and the skies are a little darker, it’s nice to be able to light up our worlds and warm up our hearts by giving to one another.”

If you’d like to find a Minnesota nonprofit to donate to through GiveMN, click HERE.

You can sign up for a bell-ringing shift with the Twin Cities Salvation Army by clicking HERE.