In 1965 the first trial Red Shield Appeal door knock was conducted in the Sydney area. For the first time instead of just using uniformed Salvos to collect night after night over a three month period as part of a 'self denial appeal', the friends of the Salvos took part in a one morning doorknock under the new name.
The idea came from Canada where The Salvation Army had used this method and name since the late 1940's. The Red Shield approach was based on the popular Salvation Army Red Shield huts and services provided by us during World War II for all the western nations, including Australia and Canada.
Two Australian Salvation Army officers, Majors Don Campbell and Charles Cross, investigated the Canadian idea of running an annual Red Shield Appeal. Major Cross passed on his knowledge to The Salvation Army in Sydney where they quickly instigated the first trial in Sydney. Major Campbell in Melbourne passed on his information to Colonel Harry Goffin and Captain Smith who implemented it progressively in the southern states of Australia.
Also in 1965 Salvation Army centres in North Western Tasmania successfully carried out a one day door knock with the help of community groups and friends. In 1968 the City of Melbourne made an attempt to doorknock the whole city and advertise the event through all main media.
In 1969 the whole of Victoria took part in the Red Shield Appeal doorknock and a leading advertising agency developed an advertising campaign including the now famous "Thank God for the Salvos" slogan and donated all their time. Melbourne's leading film maker donated a free 30 second TV commercial, five leading photographers travelled the state and contributed an outstanding photographic display, and all the media donated time and space. The result was a 100% increase in the appeal total for Victoria to $200,000.
First nation-wide Red Shield Appeal
In 1970 we held our first national appeal, again using the 'Thank God for the Salvos' advertising campaign, and this time the donations of media space and time were national. The appeal raised $1 million dollars across Australia.
The Salvation Army was the first charity to hold a national doorknock, the first to have a national advertising campaign, and the first to have a national TV campaign. The results in terms of donations, change in awareness and attitude to The Salvation Army and its clients were outstanding.
Today we have an income of more than $50 million from the Red Shield Appeal, plus another $50 million from wills and bequests.
Our regular Newspoll shows that the Red Shield Appeal is known by 96% of the population and 91% have a positive attitude to the 'Salvos' and more than 90% know the slogan, "Thank God for the Salvos".
The first time we conducted such research in 1970 we were the rated the sixth most important appeal in Australia; today we are very clearly the appeal with the highest regard. The sad fact is that a new problem has developed to take advantage of this positive image - more than 50% of people are not at home when we call for a donation and we now have a far higher income from those who donate through the mail, via the internet, and through regular monthly donations.
The Red Shield Appeal today
We rely on the Red Shield Appeal to supplement the programs which are paid for by government contributions, which provide 54% of our income.
Each week we serve 100,000 meals, provide beds to 2,000 homeless people, distribute many blankets, support 500 people addicted with rehabilitation, provide refuge to 400 victims of domestic abuse and counselling to thousands of people.
The Salvation Army thanks God for the way in which the Red Shield Appeal has given us a life line between a caring Australian public and the people in our society who we help to shield.
Today we depend more than ever on the proceeds from the Red Shield Appeal and want to thank the people of Australia for the support they continue to give us to assist those in need.