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November 18, 2004
Banning The Bell: National Chains Disconnect From The Communities They Serve

The Boston Globe reported yesterday that the Salvation Army, the pre-eminent charity for supporting the most downtrodden among us, can no longer ring its bells or put its trademark red kettles outside Target or Best Buy stores as the national chains get positively Grinchy about their no-solicitation policies:

As the Salvation Army kicks off its annual red-kettle program today, a growing number of retailers, from Best Buy to Target, are banning Salvation Army bell ringers from their doors -- to avoid having to choose between competing charities and out of concern for customers, they say.

That's created a schism in the retail world, with rival chains banking on kettle-carrying volunteers to set them apart as more civic-minded.

Hugh Hewitt wound up devoting almost all of his radio show last night to this topic, as listeners overwhelmingly reacted negatively to this new policy. Most of the ire was directed at Target, although Best Buy also banned the bell this year. The difference may be that for Best Buy, this continues their policy (I believe) while for Target it represents a change.

They issued a statement claiming that Target has always had a no-solicitations rule, and that they found it difficult to make an exception for the Salvation Army. I appreciate Target's rule on solicitors; I find it annoying to be accosted by the rainbow of nutbar causes and con artists that accost shoppers elsewhere. However, lumping the Salvation Army in with the rest of the hucksters stretches credulity. The Salvation Army, as Hugh pointed out, has the lowest overhead and supports the most heartbreaking cases of any major charity group, making them not only the first such organization but also the best. You never hear about Salvation Army management keeping Upper West Side lovenests with donor money, as happened with another national charity a few years ago -- one that regularly enlists corporate management to extort donations through payroll deductions.

Moreover, the money raised in those red kettles stay in the communuties from which they're raised. Money raised in the Twin Cities go to the destitute right here in our neighborhood. Tossing the Salvation Army into the street denies the connection to the local community that Target and others tout in the public relations. It's the one charity where we can be assured we are helping our neighbors, where our money stays in our own community.

The notion that Target finds it "difficult" to make exceptions to their own internal policy is absurd. Management gets paid to make value judgments all the time -- they don't hire seven-figure executives just to have them rely on zero-tolerance policies. The Salvation Army surely is worthy of such an exception, and their passive, cheerful presence at Target's doors will do nothing to detract from the shopping experience of their customers. Either Target should commit to replacing the money that their ruthless policy enforcement denies to the Salvation Army or let them come back. Failing that, our family may need to make a new holiday policy ourselves.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 18, 2004 6:38 AM

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» Target and the Salvation Army from Lead and Gold
Captain's Quarters has the argument in favor of the SA. I especially liked how he dispatched Targets "a rule is a rule" canard. [Read More]

Tracked on November 18, 2004 8:48 AM

» No more red kettles outside Target from Brain Shavings
Courtesy of Hugh Hewitt, I've learned that Target has banned The Salvation Army from collecting donations in front of its stores, according to The Boston Globe. How in the world could anyone object to an organization that does so much for the least and... [Read More]

Tracked on November 18, 2004 9:34 AM

» Target says no to Salvation Army from Let the Voice be Heard
I would like some feedback on this. Especially if you think Target has done nothing wrong. I also need to say that Target isnt the only company doing this. The article linked below lists others, such as... [Read More]

Tracked on November 18, 2004 10:18 AM

» Retail Stores Silence An Icon from Vista On Current Events
For my holiday shopping this year I am going to avoid the stores that are banning the kettles, and patronizing the ones that welcome it. [Read More]

Tracked on November 18, 2004 1:00 PM

There's a Salvation Army/Target controversy brewing in the blogosphere. Flames are being fanned by much of the Northern Alliance and gasoline was recently added to the mix by Hugh Hewitt who is bribing bloggers who weigh in on the subject with a HughLi... [Read More]

Tracked on November 19, 2004 5:13 PM

» Raven from Raven
Jasper [Read More]

Tracked on March 31, 2006 1:51 AM

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