The Salvation Army bells are still ringing this Christmas, but coins don’t clink in the kettles as often as they used to. Giving to the annual fundraising campaign has dropped dramatically. Between 2019 and 2022, the decline was about 20 percent.

It is not clear why the church and charitable organization has struggled to raise as much money in recent years. Some have blamed the way people shop (online) and the way people pay for what they buy (with credit cards). But the downturn has come only in the past five years, long after these significant shifts in consumer habits.

Others have attributed the problems to culture war controversies. The Salvation Army has been accused of discriminating against LGBT people and of being infiltrated by progressivism. Still, the Salvationists have been welcomed to ring their bells in front of Albertsons, Kroger, Food Lion, Big Lots, Hobby Lobby, Dillard’s, JCPenney, Walgreens, and Walmart. There just aren’t as many people putting their change—or the occasional gold coin, diamond ring, or lottery ticket—into those Christmas kettles.

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