Posted on December 19, 2008

After 130 Years Of Fundraising, Sally Army Told to Stop Rattling Collecting Tins Because It Might ‘Offend Other Religions’

Paul Harris, Daily Mail (London), December 15, 2008

For 130 years they have been part of Christmas, filling the air in towns across the land with music and carols.

But one thing is missing from the repertoire of Salvation Army bands this year—the percussion of rattling tins.

Members have been forbidden to shake their charity tins—even if it’s done in time to the music—in case it harasses or intimidates people. One said she had been told it might also offend other religions.

Tin man: Salvation Army collectors have been told not to rattle their tins as it could be construed as religious harassment

Guidelines for branches organising public collections say tinholders should simply keep the tin still.

It means that when the brass bands start up they can rock and roll all they want—but if they shake and rattle, it could put them in conflict with the law.

Councils and police can enforce the no-rattle rule and have powers to prosecute or ban offenders. The restriction was branded ‘bonkers’ yesterday both by donors and long-serving Salvation Army volunteers.

One collector told the Daily Mail: ‘I’ve been doing this for more than 40 years and I fail to see how rattling a tin could cause offence. If I was shaking a tambourine I could do it all day—if I shake my tin, I could end up in court.’

The ‘Silent Night’ rattle ban manifested itself at the weekend in Uxbridge, West London, when musicians from two local branches performed outside a shopping mall.

(They were outside because traders complained last year they were too loud to play inside).

Tony Keywood, shopping with his wife Sheila, was among a crowd enjoying the carols and stepped forward to make a donation.

‘I jokingly told them off for not shaking their tins,’ said Mr Keywood, 78, a retired telecoms executive. ‘They said they weren’t allowed to do that in case it caused offence to other religions. They said they’d been told rattling a tin was considered to be intimidating.

‘I don’t know who makes up these rules but I suspect it will have something to do with human rights. I do feel Britain has lost its way on things like this.’

Laws on public collections are long-established, but until the recent proliferation of so-called ‘charity muggers’ were not widely utilised.

Fundraisers have to be licensed, usually by the local authority, police or landowner. Councils and police can decide whom to license and how the rules are enforced.

The Salvation Army relies heavily on public generosity and believes street collections help to foster good relations.

Guidance now, however, is that members should not shake their tins. A Salvation Army source said: ‘We don’t have a formal policy of “You Shall Not Rattle” but we always act within the law.

‘Some authorities specifically ask us not to shake our tins. It is seen as harassment, or making people feel uncomfortable. I don’t think it’s to do with other religions. But it can make people feel we’re putting them under pressure to give.’

A spokesman added: ‘We want people to donate from the best of motives, so we advise collectors to avoid rattling their tins or asking people directly for money when stood on the high street.’