When was the last time you shook a collection bucket?

Howard Lake | 18 March 2021 | Blogs

One of my first memories as a twenty-something fundraiser was hefting a collection bucket around Bestival, while dressed as a gorilla. A standard noughties activity for any fundraiser back then.

The bucket grew reassuringly heavy throughout the long, hot, summers day, as I wandered, sweating, through the fields of chillin’ festival goers. Occasionally I’d spot another gorilla doing the same thing, there were a dozen of us of different heights and strides, but with the same branded collection buckets.

At the end of each very hot day, I would combine the collections into one bucket and store in a secure trailer. This went on for five days.

By the end of the festival, the festival organisers asked us how much we had raised and I was a little embarrassed that all those heavy buckets had only amounted to just over £500 of coppers, 5p and 10p pieces in the main. This wasn’t inconsequential for our small charity but also seemed, even back then, as a poor return for all of our volunteer work.

More successful than this was a group of very dedicated volunteers that I worked with once, who organised systematic tube station collections and would regularly raise over £1,000 in a day.

However, even throughout the noughties I witnessed the decline in success of this form of fundraising. The volunteer group eventually stopped their regular collections, I suspect in part because it just became too demoralising. The era of touch screens, online banking, PayPal purchases at the touch of a finger on eBay and Amazon, are a far cry from the world I knew a decade or two ago.

Even before Covid, I don’t recall seeing any change collections on my commute for sometime. Those face-to-face fundraisers you do meet now often accept contactless payments or are instead seeking a more committed regular donation relationship with you.

I suspect the memory of coins and spare change is still a few years off of going into a Peter Kay ‘do you remember’ routine, but perhaps we’ll see this in our lifetime.

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of brushing up on my knowledge of ‘contactless’ in a conversation that I had with Tap Simple founders Tom Montague and Alexander Coleridge. This was an eye-opening Charity Chat, and possibly a prediction for what will be if it isn’t already, the norm.


Charity Chat podcast · E71 – Contactless for Charity

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