Advice from a head ding-a-ling


Kettle coordinator shares the steps to a successful campaign.

 By Jim Reid, Dr.

Advisory board member and kettle coordinator at the Henderson (Nev.) Corps, Dr. Jim Reid shares the secrets of a successful Red Kettle campaign, including goal setting, prayer, hard work, motivated volunteers, sponsorships and smart scheduling.

In 2008, Major Will Cobb became the corps officer in Henderson, Nev. Shortly after his arrival, I told him that I was his kettle coordinator—I had achieved good results in previous years.

I asked him how much his last corps had raised in its 2007 campaign. He told me $125,000. I suggested that we set our goal at $150,000. He looked at me with one of those “show me” stares, and said OK. He made it clear, however, that this was my baby. He said he would provide all the support necessary to make the campaign a success, but let me know that I was in charge.

That year we raised $175,000. In 2009, I decided that our goal should be $200,000. We raised $242,000. Last year I set the goal at $280,000 and we raised $292,877.

Remember, this was during a recession and the Las Vegas valley had one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. How did we manage to do so well? I discovered the secrets that I share here so that your corps can have the same kind of success we have had.

Secrets to success

First, you pray like everything depends on God because it does, and you work like everything depends on you because it does!

I have served on the Henderson Corps Advisory Board for several years. Year after year we received reports that our corps was in the red. We have not heard this for the past couple of years. Not only are we in the black, but each year since 2008, we have had a surplus. God has given the Army the perfect tool to finance his work—the Red Kettle drive. For six weeks we work hard, and that carries us through the rest of the year.

Here are the specifics that we use to succeed. We find as many volunteers as we can to ring the bell. We place them at our best locations, and they always do well.

Last year we had a Marine reservist dressed in his blues at the main door of the mall. The income was double the normal take for that location.

We ask local businesses to sponsor a kettle for one or more days. We request a donation of $100 a day. In the past, we would put a sign on each kettle stand saying, “This kettle sponsored today by Frank’s Auto Body.” Unfortunately, the wind blew many of our signs down. We still ask businesses to sponsor kettles, but we no longer put sponsors’ signs on the stands. Maybe your locations won’t be as windy!

When I first got involved with the kettles, the bell ringers worked from 9 a.m. till 6 p.m. When I took charge, I put two shifts on at all of the good stores like Wal-Mart. The first works from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; the second works from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. This way we get more bell-ringing hours, and we can use the same worker for six days without generating overtime.

Kettles blessed by prayer

We pray over every kettle before it goes in service. We ask the counters to pray for the empties when they finish with them, and I instruct all the drivers not to take out a kettle that hasn’t received prayer. Not all of our drivers are Christians, but they soon learned that they had to check with me to be sure a kettle had been prayed for before they took it out. Often a non-Christian driver would ask if the kettles they were about to load had been prayed for. If I wasn’t sure, I would pray over them again.

The prayer went like this: “Heavenly Father, bless this kettle as it goes to work. Give the bell ringer that will be working with it a happy heart and a smiley face, and send us generous contributors. Bless the store that allows us to work there with prosperity. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

For the bell ringers with cars or bus passes, I schedule them to work the locations the farthest away from the office. At all the Wal-Marts, Vons and Albertsons that have two doors, I put a worker on each door. Several years back at an Albertsons with two doors, both kettles finished the day with the exact same amount in each kettle, $312.21 to the penny.

Take the challenge

Recently, I learned that the Henderson Corps had the highest kettle income in the Southwest Division. Let me issue a challenge to every corps in the Western Territory!

Will someone please challenge us this year? I gave you our formula and all the secrets we use. You can duplicate our success—you should be able to give us a run for our money. And this challenge comes from a Southern Baptist! Let’s have every corps increase its kettle income this year.

You can contact me at or call me at (702) 232-3571.

Read about the mechanics of the Henderson Corps’ Red Kettle Campaign in the next issue of New Frontier.

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