Christmas Post

Lots of Scout Groups/Districts do this and over the years have raised thousands of
pounds.

However you decide to spend the money, delivering the Christmas Post is not only a
great money maker, but also highlights to the local community that Scouting is out there,
doing things that help others.

Legislation

Charities can deliver Christmas cards during the period 25 November to 1 January and
make a small charge for this service. According to Section 68 of The British
Telecommunications Bills, mail can only be carried 'for the purposes of raising funds for
charitable purposes'. A 'Christmas card' is defined as 'a document which conveys a
greeting appropriate to the seasons of Christmas and the New Year (or either of them)
and no other communication', and a 'Charity' is defined as 'any body of persons or trust
established for charitable purposes only'.

The value of Christmas Post

Money is raised by the sale of stamps. The more stamps you sell, the more money you
make. Every Group/District involved should get some percentage of the money raised
less all costs.

Ensure you plan your budget, and work out all of the expected costs and know what you
need to raise to recoup those costs. After, all of the monies raised should be split
between those taking part.

NOTE: In some areas the lead Group/District is allocated a fixed percentage as they do
all the planning, purchasing and organising. The other Groups/Districts receive a
percentage share of the remaining with the split depending on the number of
Groups/Districts involved.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure everyone is signed up to and in total agreement
before you go ahead.

Planning

As with any Scout event planning pays dividends. Outline planning should begin in the
late summer to ensure that an efficient and successful scheme is run. To help you plan
your scheme you will need to make decisions about the following areas.

Delivery and Collection

Where are we going to deliver?

It is very important to clearly specify the area over which your postal service will deliver.
To say it covers a certain Scout District would not be understood by the public. A village
or small town clearly defined by roads or similar boundaries is relatively easy to
administer. At the other end of the scale, complete geographical areas could be covered
by schemes involving many Groups and Districts working together.

How often should we deliver?

Legally the scheme is able to operate between 25 November and 1 January. Many
Groups/Districts decide to operate just the one delivery after all of the cards have been
collected. Others choose to deliver once a week in the period allowed. Whatever you
decide you must ensure it is manageable. In a large catchment area you could be
dealing with thousands of cards and you need to ensure you will have enough volunteers
and deliveries to cope with your commitments.

Once you have agreed your scheme the details can be used in your advertising of the
scheme. It is imperative that your customers know when and where collections and
deliveries are to be made.

Remember - sorting the post will always take longer than you think. If you have not run a
scheme before it might be best to start small with one delivery date. This will take some
of the pressure off and help you to gauge whether or not you could do more.

Who is going to collect and deliver?

If your scheme is going to cover a large geographical area, with many Groups or Districts
involved it is imperative that those involved know well in advance the area they are
responsible for. Each of these Groups/Districts can also be involved in advertising the
scheme prior to its launch. Remember that delivering in rural areas may be more time
consuming than a town area. Numbers of collectors need to be allocated accordingly.
Delivering mail is a responsible act. Mistakes and disappointment must be avoided at all
costs.

NOTE: Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts and Scouts must only deliver Christmas Post under
adult supervision and only during daylight hours.

How do we collect cards?

Posting Boxes

As a general rule the size of a posting box should be governed by the size of the
catchment area. Please bear in mind that the bigger the posting box the more difficult it
will be to find a shop willing to accept it.

Sites for Posting Boxes

Posting boxes need to be situated in places where people will readily see them. Many
schemes have found newsagents and businesses where people routinely call for daily or
weekly shopping, libraries, old people's homes, community centres and church porches
to be ideal. Some schemes may involve manning boxes in shopping areas on Saturday
mornings.

Whatever system is used the posting boxes must be secure, clearly labelled and emptied
on a regular basis. You cannot expect the shopkeeper to empty the posting box for you.

How do we sort the cards?

Delivery rounds must be agreed upon and clear maps and lists of street names and
numbers should be produced to make the sorting simple. You will need plenty of space
and a number of cardboard boxes, a "raid" on a local supermarket or shoe shop should
provide you with the latter. Depending upon the size of the scheme the sort will be in
three or four stages:

Stage 1: Sort the post into Group areas
Stage 2: Frank the cards
Stage 3: Sort the Group areas into delivery rounds
Stage 4: Sort each round by street name and numbers

NOTE: Small schemes operated by a single Group need only complete stages 2-4.

During a sort you may come across cards that do not fall within your delivery area.
These must either be passed to the Scout post team for the relevant area or consigned
to the official postal authorities by affixing a second class stamp. Incomplete and
incorrect addresses will inevitably occur. Telephone directories and local information
may help to redirect these cards. It is much quicker for Explorer Scouts and adults to do
the sorting. Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts and Scouts may be perfectly able, but time
constraints normally make it impractical until the final delivery sort (stage 4).

Finance

Do we have to use the stamps?

No, but there must be an indicator on the envelope that shows the postee has paid for
the service. This can be a stamp, or a postmark with a suitable distinguishing mark.

You may decide to operate a 'trust' scheme'. This is where the cards and the charge are
placed in the 'post box' together. If you choose to operate this type of scheme than it is
only necessary to have a rubber stamp manufactured.

If you do decide to use stamps there are some considerations:

Designs should be clear, show stamp value and have some obvious indication of
scouting

 A local printer would be able to advise on the best and most economical methods of
producing your designs

 Many Groups find it more economical to produce two years stock of stamps in one go

Stamps can be produced in several ways

Printed perforated stamps - A local printer who can fully perforate may not be easy to
find, but it is worth ringing round. This can be quite an expensive route depending on
print and paper qualities, but it is definitely worth getting a quote. These types of stamps
do look really professional and customers can buy more than they need, and possibly
save some, or give them to collectors.

How much should we charge?

In general the charge levied for each card sent via the scheme is between half and
three quarters the price of a second class stamp.

If you choose to operate a 'trust' system, the charge for the post should be posted in
your post box at the same time as the cards are posted.

If you choose to operate a stamp system you can sell your stamps through:

 Your members and family

 Local shops and pubs that you have placed letter boxes in. Most local businesses
that are happy to accept the post box are also willing to help with selling stamps.
Many are also interested in finding out how successful the scheme was.

How do we record monies raised?

Whatever method is used to run the scheme, accurate records must be kept of all
finances and should be incorporated in audited with the annual accounts.

 If stamps are issued to people for sale an accurate return must be made.

 If money is put on trust into the posting box this must be carefully counted and
recorded.

 Groups that use the trust method find they are always in pocket.

Schemes that may bring the Group or District annual income above the VAT threshold
(around £68,000 09/10. These rates are subject to change) should discuss their financial
arrangements with their County Treasurer who will be able to give them advice.

Are there any additional money making opportunities?

Stamp collectors may be interested in purchasing First Day covers, or cancelled covers.
There are many collectors all over the world who are interested in these stamps and
postal service. Advertise widely. You could be pleasantly surprised.

How do we advertise the scheme?

Once sites have been agreed for the posting boxes, stamps ordered, and people have
agreed to supervise and empty the posting boxes, all that is now required is publicity for
the scheme.

Publicity is essential and should be the specific responsibility of a person or team. Posters
can be used in shops, windows and on public notice boards. Press releases may be
required for local newspapers, radio and television. Letters can be written to parish
magazines and even personal visits to old peoples' homes and community clubs are an
option.

Further publicity can be obtained by way of a leaflet posted with all cards delivered in the
first week of the scheme.

If you have not run a Christmas Post before, you could contact your nearest Scout
Group/District who have and talk it through with them. They will probably have some great
hints and tips that will help you to introduce your service.