Salvation Army kettles allowed back into Manitoba liquor stores
After learning of fundraising struggles, Crown agency lifts ban for this season only
Salvation Army kettles will start ringing with the sounds of coins again in Manitoba liquor stores as of Friday.
The Christian charitable organization was told Thursday that it has been granted permission to bring its fundraising kettle campaign back into the stores — at least for this year — after Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries overturned an earlier decision to ban the charity from collecting donations from inside Liquor Marts.
"It's good news, in a way," said Maj. Robert Kerr, who works in public relations for the Salvation Army.
"It's a bit of a challenge to us at this point in the game."
The organization — which, as of this week, had brought in less than half of its Christmas season target of $370,000 in Winnipeg — has already found different locations to set up kettles for collecting donations.
The Salvation Army was told this season it would no longer be allowed to solicit donations through the kettle campaign in any of the Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries stores in the province, after the Crown agency said it received complaints from shoppers about charities soliciting in the stores.
Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries decided to temporarily reinstate Salvation Army volunteer-staffed kettles at Liquor Marts with countertop kettles in Winnipeg, Brandon, Portage la Prairie and Thompson. The Crown agency changed its mind after the Salvation Army informed them that the charity was struggling to meet its financial goals this season, a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
"We hope this change will result in a more positive response," the spokesperson said in the statement.
A spokesperson told CBC News in a statement last month that the complaints from customers were not directed at just one charitable organization, but that the Crown corporation aimed to create a policy that would include all charitable groups.
"From what I understand from them, it's a policy they've had in place for a while but we've been given an exception to it until this year," Kerr said.
Liquor Mart donations down
The Salvation Army was still allowed to place tabletop donation boxes at Liquor Mart cashiers, but will now also be able to place kettles and volunteers in the stores.
The change in policy comes with some challenges for the Salvation Army, Kerr said. While the simple solution would be to add more kettles to more stores, there is a lack of kettles and volunteers to solicit donations in additional spaces, he said.
As well, the organization doesn't want to turn its back on the other businesses that have allowed Salvation Army kettles.
"We wouldn't want to abandon those people," Kerr said. "They've been kind, they've been generous. They've opened their doors to us, and we don't want to walk away from that."
Although Winnipeggers in the spirit of giving can still donate at other stores and locations, Kerr said the charity will likely find ways to end up back in some liquor vendors.
So far, donations are down this year, Kerr said. Three stores reported $300 at existing Liquor Mart tabletop donation stands, compared to close to $7,000 last year.
Last year, the Salvation Army's kettle campaign raised about $60,000 in Manitoba liquor store locations alone.
Kerr says the Salvation Army has been told the exemption is for this year only. He is uncertain what the future holds after this Christmas.
"Find us where you can find us and drop something in the kettle."