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A century of British Red Cross fundraising collecting boxes

A century of British Red Cross fundraising collecting boxes

Next week is Week, the charity’s annual national fundraising campaign. It is highlighting this by demonstrating how its have changed over the past century.

These collecting boxes have an impressive fundraising record. During the First World War, the British Red Cross raised over £21 million – “the equivalent of £1.3 billion today”.

The first collecting boxes were wooden and simple, but with clear asks or thank you messages on them. In the 1920s designs became more creative with a version of one of the charity’s ambulances appearing with a coin slot in the roof.

In the 1930s and ’40s human figures were sometimes used.


Second World War British Red Cross collecting box

British Red Cross collecting box from the second world war. Image: British Red Cross


By the 1950s the collecting tins were become even more creative and interactive. “Push me in – a coin will call me out” is the message on one. Sure enough, if you drop a coin in the slot, an ambulance comes out of its wooden garage.

Simple metal collecting tins continued in use throughout, all with the globally recognised emblem of the red cross.

A 1970 collecting tin used on house-to-house collections featured a more modern design on it, celebrating the charity’s centenary.

By 1984 the charity was using plastic collecting boxes. A 3D cross-shaped box introduced then is still in use now.

Some collecting tins were clearly not easy to carry around, especially when full, so the British Red Cross, like many other charities, adopted the ‘waisted’ plastic collection boxes which are easier on the wrist.

The charity’s trip through its collecting box history concludes with a call to action, inviting people to take part in its national collection in British Red Cross week.

“Be part of our history and bring hope to people in crisis”



Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.

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