Salvation Army officials are blaming a lackluster response to this year's red kettle campaign on fewer people carrying cash they can drop into the buckets manned by the charity's bell ringers.
Officials with Salvation Army Muncie said they've raised more than $80,000, but that's less than half of their $165,000 goal heading into the holiday fundraiser's final week.
Lt. Mary Robbins with the Muncie chapter said this year's shorter holiday period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is partly to blame. But she said the bigger issue is that fewer people have cash on hand these days because consumers are increasingly making purchases with debit or credit cards.
"We know people are communicating differently than they used to, so how they donate and spend money changes, too," she told The Star Press.
"I really don't believe we have a drop in supporters. We have to find ways to get them online and thinking of us when they give," she said.
The Muncie chapter isn't the only Salvation Army chapter in Indiana that's falling short of its fundraising goal. The Indianapolis-based Central Indiana Salvation Army office has to date raised only $1.9 million toward its $3.2 million goal to help aid low-income families.
Some Salvation Army chapters have found success with their kettle campaigns by providing credit card donations at the site and by using social media to promote their online kettle campaigns.
Others have used texting campaigns where "KETTLE" is sent to a particular number for an automatic $10 contribution to the campaign.
Lt. Kevin Robbins, also with Salvation Army Muncie, said kettles and bell ringers will always be part of the holiday campaign, but the chapter needs to explore ways to reach people online for donations.
"We've started making changes ... but we're still learning how the social media and online things work," he told the newspaper.