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mwalz

How to secure donation box

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Next year i am going to collect funds to help out a local charity. I've been looking at donation boxes, but still feel unsure about the security of them. It's sad that i have to even consider the fact that someone could steal it, or rob it.

The town and neighborhood are quite, but it's always a possibility, i don't care if i have to go out and dig it in the ground 5 ft, i just need something secure. What have you all done for yours if you have one?

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One ear we used a shopping crate about 3 foot square filled with cement blocks and the donation box bolted top. The donation box is 1/4" metal with 2 paddle locks. Empty every night. Box and crate are wrapped like a present. A volunteer was our thief in the end. Hidden game cameras caught him.

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Does anyone put out a donation box that is specifically for them to help pay their electric bill for the lights?  I don't, I was just curious if anyone did or if that was even an acceptable practice.

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I think donation boxes are a horrible idea....makes you sound needy.....if you can't afford the electric, maybe you should stick to solar.......or none at all, very low brow idea... just my opinion....I always thought that the gift of lighting was making you and your family happy....not a business to make money

Edited by Big J Illinois

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I made mine. It looks like 3 stacked presents, I used 2x4's, and 3/4" plywood, so it alone weights about 250lbsish, along with that I stake it down with rebar stakes.

Ive never had a problem with it. Well actually only one. One night late , I thought I heard something, but wasn't sure. Long story short, what I assume was a drunk, or distracted drive hit it! Took me a minute to figure out, because it was literally launched in the air, for a distance of about 20'!! Saw the broken headlight on ground, and some paint marks on the box,but heres the kicker it barley made a few scratches on the box!!!

10 hours ago, Franchise_24 said:

Does anyone put out a donation box that is specifically for them to help pay their electric bill for the lights?  I don't, I was just curious if anyone did or if that was even an acceptable practice.

I do, but it was never my idea in the first place at all, it never even crossed my mind.

From the beginning Ive always sat outside near the chiminea, with a nice fire going, with family, and some friends, to enjoy the lights, and say hi to people , give out candy canes etc, my parents LOVE it! But at any rate, people would approach me regularly, and ask if I take donations, to help pay for the bills, or say very kind things, and say please take this, and give me money, and tell me more than once, you know you should put a donation box out, I know other people also want to give! So the next year I did make it. And while  I've never asked for any donations [well i mean i did put out a box!], nor do expect them, they are all very appreciated!!! I use them to pay for the electric bill, and if there's some left, I put it directly towards new lights,

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I plan to start collecting for a charity next year as well. Our mailbox is at the end of driveway and I plan to make a small box (wooden) that I can discretely secure to the mailbox post. Of course I will decorate it in some way...lights, gingerbread house, presents...I don't know yet. someone mentioned it above but the best thing you can do is empty it every night! I started giving out candy canes to cars I saw this year so I normally have a close eye on the front yard every night.

Collecting for a charity has always been a goal of mine and after 3 years I feel that its time to take the dive as I am not adding to much for year 4 in terms of lights/controllers. I am thinking toys-for-tots or make a wish, something that will help children(100% donated of course). I personally never liked the idea of putting out a donation box to help "run" my show. If I can't afford new lights or a new controller that year then I shouldn't be adding them, using other peoples money to add them would feel wrong to me...

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On ‎12‎/‎23‎/‎2016 at 5:06 PM, Big J Illinois said:

I think donation boxes are a horrible idea....makes you sound needy.....if you can't afford the electric, maybe you should stick to solar.......or none at all, very low brow idea... just my opinion....I always thought that the gift of lighting was making you and your family happy....not a business to make money

I disagree Big J.  My radio announcement states I am raising money for a women's and children's home.  Every penny that gets dropped in goes to them.  I think it shows more of a charitable heart than sounding needy.  But, that does depend on the box being used for charity.

Having said that, I did have my stolen 3 years ago.  So I bought a bigger, lockable, steel mailbox from Lowes.  I mounted it to a wooden frame and drilled a hole in the back for a steel cable.   The steel cable is locked to a tree.  It also gets emptied AND brought into the house at the end of the show every night!!  I did bring the stolen box in every night too, but when I went out 10 minutes after show end, it was gone.

I learned.

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DBox.jpg.983c1d8f1bc2f06dd84892f9407a2ef0.jpg

On 12/23/2016 at 9:42 AM, Franchise_24 said:

Does anyone put out a donation box that is specifically for them to help pay their electric bill for the lights?  I don't, I was just curious if anyone did or if that was even an acceptable practice.

I see this is an older post, that has been resurrected. A few things. First, here is my 2nd generation donation box. It is a "money vault", locks and is anchored in the ground in a 5 gallon bucket of cement, that is also hitch locked to the receiver post. Not permanent, but it will make most think it is. I empty it every night just after the show ends. My 1st box was on a post like this, only a smaller box overall. It is now re-purposed to another decorator here in the PacNW. 

Most shun the thought of asking for funds to help cover the cost of doing a display. I don't sign up to that, but it is an individual choice. Most think it is a hobby, and why should someone support my hobby. Folks do want to hand me money to cover costs, and I gladly let them watch me put it into the box for them, after I thank them on behalf of my charities. 

Collecting for charity is a great way to give back at the Holidays. Those who do larger more popular displays just take precaution. Because you do collect, I don't think that makes your personal home more of a target then any other time of year. Just my dos centavos. 

 

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Found a pic of my 1st generation, but this give you an idea of how I secured it into the ground. 

 

IMGP0879.JPG.146206b46daa6f79388b5285d33c051b.JPG

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Why not use technology?  You could use Square-Up, take Apple Pay, or use Venmo or PayPal.  Heck you could even create your own app.  You could also accept text payments.

Or for those of you who are collecting donations for a specific charity, why not have the people donate direct to the charity's web site?  This way people will know 100% of their donation will go to the charity.  

Just out of curiosity for people who have donation boxes, how much money do you collect in a season?  I'm wondering of the cost of making and maintaining a donation box is worth the effort?

For those of you who who post signs saying you are collecting for a specific charity do you receive the charity's permission before accepting any money?  I have worked with charities and some will not accept donations collected by others on their behalf  for ideological or political reasons.  This gets sticky legally.  If the charity give the money back (and yes they do), then you as the collector have to giv e the money you collected back as you collected the money under a false pretext.

 In my opinion a donation box cheapens the viewer's experiance.  I live in California where there are large number of homeless.  Many of them are professional beggars anfd make quite a good living asking for donations.  Having a donation box even if it is for a charity is just tacky.  You created a work of art for people to enjoy for free.....  then you hit them up for money?

Just my thoughts.  This is America where you are free to share your thoughts and maybe change mine. 

 

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Douggg, you make a few good points. On my display website, in the How-To, I have some historic material I presented at Christmas Expo 2015 on this topic.

Work together with your Charity. They want to ensure that they are being represented accordingly, i.e, proper signage, fonts, colors etc... This is on your website, voiceovers, and any signage in your display. They want to understand what you are doing, and how. They can also potentially provide additional advertising and volunteer help.

The idea of a pay point is a good one. However, no matter what you decide to do, be flexible. I have thought about adding that, just have not looked into it. Some are hesitant to use technology too in that manner. What I am not sure about, is whether there is a way to keep track of what YOUR display brings in. Part of the satisfaction, is knowing exactly what your efforts have brought to your cause. 

In a decade worth of Seasons collecting for my Charities, I have never had one person say that collecting is tacky. Rather, the major feedback is they think it is great that I do. If done in good taste, it does not, IMHO, cheapen the experience, rather, enhance it. It is the Season of giving, and most are very gracious. In everything I do, it is stated that my donations go 100% to my charities. in 10 years, I have collected over $50K for my charities. Last year was almost $8K and I have steadily increased over the years. I have never been questioned, but also keep excellent weekly or in my busy period, daily tallies. 

Also one more thing. While a lot of us collect cash, some take food donations, toys, etc... A lot of it depends on what charity you get affiliated with. SOWA nor the Northshore Wranglers (my community SOWA team) are not typical Holiday charities. I get asked a lot how I chose them, I love to tell that story, and I get told a lot that the community appreciates that I blend it and why. 

For me, there is nothing better than when a parent lifts a child up, opens the door, and dumps a bunch of coins in. I love the sound and counting every penny. 

Edited by zman
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