The Christian Aid Collecting Experience

St Peter's Church has attempted since about 1980 to collect a Christian Aid envelope each year from every household in The Park. Those who have experienced the joy of trudging round that sometimes formidable neighbourhood over the years will have their own tales to tell of how they have been received on the doorstep! To be fair, most of those who come to the door do give, and many do so enthusiastically. Well, some are enthusiastic. However, there are deep-rooted CADs (Christian Aid Dodgers) who have a wide variety of excuses why they should not part with their money. A favourite one is not to answer the door at all and an element of cat and mouse can be developed by an artful collector. One householder once sat in his car for a full five minutes after arriving outside his house to find me knocking on the door. A short walk around the block and another knock at the door successfully caught him unawares!

Excuses heard in the past include:

  • I don't live here
  • There's nobody in
  • I haven't got any change
  • Can you come back tomorrow
  • Someone's collected already
  • You didn't leave an envelope
  • I've given elsewhere (possibly true, this one)
  • I give my worn-out clothes to Oxfam

Another interesting aspect of collecting - basically another form of avoidance - is what goes into the envelopes. Having been involved for some years in the counting of collections I can recall a number of strictly non-negotiable items, such as buttons, falling out of envelopes. A good trick is to fold up the accompanying leaflet and seal it in the envelope to give the impression of giving a currency note or cheque. The 1996 prize goes to whoever contributed a couple of Stanley carpet knife blades amongst an envelope of copper coins! By far the most regular dodge however is to give foreign coins - and this can be a good guide to the holiday habits of Park residents. Over recent years these coins have originated from:

Canada, Australia, Belgium, Mexico, Malta, Egypt, Cuba, Zambia, Trinidad, The Netherlands, Australia, Spain, Barbados, Jersey, France, Hong Kong, New Guinea, Isle of Man, Switzerland, Germany, Kenya, New Zealand, Ireland, Portugal and the USA.

I wonder if Euro '96 will result in coins from Croatia and Turkey turning up next year?

Having expressed the downside of the Collecting Experience, there is naturally the reverse of the coin (!) and one of the bonuses has been the increase in the level of giving over the years from the house-to-house collections, much I am sure due to the full coverage of the streets in The Park and the persistent efforts of collectors. For the record, the collections have totalled:

1987 531
1988 620
1989 655
1990 686
1991 901 (plus an individual donation of 277)
1992 1,023
1993 1,000
1994 1,050
1995 952 (first year of the National Lottery)
1996 1,085 (provisional total at time of writing)

I hope this somewhat light-hearted article on a serious and rewarding task will encourage rather than deter you when asked to "sign up" next year.

Keith Charter, June 1996

Postscript - 1997

Although some returns from door-to-door collections in The Park were still outstanding when this note was written, it is possible to report that just over 1,000 has been counted so far; last year a total of 1,085 was raised. Our final amount collected for this year will be announced in the September magazine. Meanwhile, our grateful thanks go to Liz Alexander who co-ordinated the organisation at short notice and to the many volunteers who undertook the often difficult task of knocking on doors!
St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 5th July 1997