pass the hat, to

pass the hat (around) (to someone)

Fig. to collect donations of money from people. (Could also be literal.) Jerry passed the hat around to all the other workers. He passed around the hat to everyone. I'll pass the hat around.
See also: hat, pass
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

pass the hat

Ask for financial contributions, as in Let's pass the hat so we can get her a nice going-away gift. This expression alludes to the actual practice of passing a hat around a gathering, but it is also used more figuratively, as in The board decided to pass the hat again among the corporate sponsors. [Late 1800s]
See also: hat, pass
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

pass the hat

or

pass the hat around

If people pass the hat or pass the hat around, they collect money for someone or something. The United States is also passing the hat among rich countries to help to pay for our military effort. We should all pass the hat around for poor old Bernie and his charming wife. Note: The image here is of people using a hat to collect money in.
See also: hat, pass
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

pass the hat

To take up a collection of money.
See also: hat, pass
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

pass the hat, to

To take up a collection; to ask for contributions. Presumably this term has a very literal origin: hats were and occasionally still are passed around a gathering where those present are asked to put in some money; the practice probably originated with street minstrels. In Britain it was, from the mid-nineteenth century, often put as send round the hat or go round with the hat. James Russell Lowell wrote: “Passing round the hat in Europe and America” (Among My Books, 1870).
See also: pass
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
See also: