The Low Down on Charities and Financial Aid

I have written several postings related to Various topics including the military, Voting, the economy, religion and etc in America. A list of links have been provided at bottom of this article for your convenience. This article will, however address additional issues in these topics.

I came up with the idea to write this article as I was reading a book on third world poverty. I know I need a hobby. The Book is entitled “The Bottom Billion.” It made me think of all the things that are going on in the world and the experiences I have had with charities. The realization that I had is that there is no reason that we have poverty in this world. There is plenty of money floating around that we could fix the vast majority of problems in our world. The problem is not with our willingness to spend money to fix the problems, it is where the money is going and the corruption that surrounds this money. I can’t vouch for people in other countries, but I can vouch for Americans. We are some of the most charitable people in the world.

Not all charities are created equal, so lets start out with the worst, so we can save people some money.

The 20 Worst Charities You Shouldn’t Be Donating To

With millions of good Samaritans regularly donating a portion of their paycheck to good causes, charities are booming… unfortunately, not all of the money going into them is coming out the way we think. Donate $10 to certain charities, and rather than the full amount (or the full amount minus a small handling fee) going to the advertised cause, most of it will be siphoned off into the foundation’s executives bank account, mishandled, or otherwise misappropriated. The amount that actually makes its way to where you think it’s going ends up representing only a tiny fraction of the donation. Of course, we’ve no wish to tarnish all charities with the same brush, and by and large, most philanthropic foundations do exactly what they advertise on the tin. But it pays to be cautious… here, in no particular order, we take a look at some of the worst charities of 2019.

1. Cancer Fund of America

Cancer Fund of America is just one of many philanthropic centers run by James T Reynolds and his somewhat crooked family. That the no-shame Reynolds takes home an annual salary of around $230,000 is bad enough (and properly tells you all you need to know about where your donations are going). That the charity (and we mean “charity” in the loosest possible sense) only manages to find it in its heart to give 2.5% of its donations to support the families of cancer victims and fund cancer research (its supposed raison d’etre) is even worse. If you want to subsidize the flash lifestyle of Reynolds, then go right ahead and donate. If you’d rather your money found its way into the pockets of who it should, then maybe find yourself a better cause.

2. American Breast Cancer Foundation

The 2nd cancer research charity to make our list is the American Breast Cancer Foundation, an organization set up in 1997 with the intent of funding health education and free breast exams for women. I say intent… as one of the worst charities in the US, it’s managed to achieve only 2 of the 4 available stars awarded by Charity Navigator, an organization dedicated to informing us about the best and worst charities out there) any evidence that any of the thousands it’s raised through appeals have made their way to the appropriate services is so thin on the ground as to be non-existent.

3. Children’s Wish Foundation

Anyone reading the name of the next charity on our list stands a good chance of confusing it with the far more famous (and far more reputable) charity, The Make-a-Wish Foundation. So close are the two names, anyone with a suspicious mind may be inclined to think the exec’s over at the Children’s Wish Foundation had either never heard of their “almost” namesake, or were very craftily and very deviously trying to piggyback on its good name. Given the less than stellar reputation of owner Linda Dozoretz, we’re going to have to plump for the latter.

4. Police Protection Fund

Another charity that should come with a “donator, beware” sign is the Police Protection Fund. The fund is the third in a series of outrageous attempts by founders David Dierks and Phil LeConte to extort money from generous Americans under the pretext of donations to the nation’s police forces. Given that only 0.7% of the donations distributed over all three trust’s have made its way to our deserving officers (the rest having somehow found its way into the bank accounts of Dierks and LeConte, and the shady lawyers willing to defend them) you’d be better off keeping your money in the bank.

5. Vietnow National Headquarters

Next up we have Vietnow National Headquarters. As its name suggests, the charity supports our country’s heroes, given assistance to those in need of homes, mental health care, and educations. A worthy cause, and one well worth a few dollars of your paycheck. Or so you’d think… in fact, only 3% of their donations actually make it into the hands of Vietnam Vets. The rest does a grand job of propping up the bank accounts of the foundation’s sleazy directors.

6. United States Deputy Sheriffs’ Association

If a charity (or indeed, any organization) is forced to move its headquarters to a new state on account of the dodgy dealings and underhand practices it’s been getting up to in its old home, anyone with any sense should know to keep well away, Unfortunately, the United States Deputy Sheriffs’ Association is well versed enough in manipulation to convince even the most well-meaning of folk that it’s still a cause worthy of their support. In two words, it’s not. Unless you want your money to go toward lawsuits (it’s already coughed up $200,000 to Iowa, Florida, and Texas), take my advice and find another charity to support… although preferably one on another list to this one.

7. Operation Lookout National Center for Missing Youth

A husband and wife running a charity… what could be nicer? In the case of Mike and Melody Gibson, pretty much everything. The dastardly duo run Operation Lookout National Center for Missing Youth, a charity with the very worthy aim of providing support and assistance to the families of missing children. In practice, it does no such thing, preferring instead to siphon 82% of its donations into its solicitors’ pockets, and a good proportion of the rest into their own. Florida and Iowa have already caught up with their underhand practices, and the pair are currently banned from telemarketing in either state. Unfortunately, the rest of the country is their oyster.

8. National Caregiving Foundation

It’s national, it’s caregiving, it’s a foundation. What could possibly go wrong? In the case of the National Caregiving Foundation, a lot. Its listed activities sound well-intentioned enough (after all, who could question such noble acts as providing scholarships to those interested in a future in healthcare, providing educational kits on mental illness, and providing assisted living facilities to the elderly?) When push comes to shove, however, there’s no real evidence of the foundation doing anything of these things. What there is evidence of, on the other hand, is director Regina Salta’s salary, which amounts to a staggering $100,000 a year according to Charity Navigator. Anyone wondering how the “charity” manages to support such a huge paycheck may need to double back to the start of the article.

9. Project Cure (Florida)

It’s big, it’s bold, it’s just two words long. Project Cure may sound like just the kind of dynamic, up and at ‘em charity that’s getting things done, but in reality, it’s not doing much beyond making up fictitious stories about raising public awareness about some of the most serious and topical diseases of the day (and paying for a minuscule storage unit in Florida that conveniently provides an address for the company headquarters). If you want to see barely a cent of your donation go towards an actual good cause, then go right ahead and pop your cheque in the post, Otherwise, save yourself the bother and send it to someone who might do something good with it … the Project Cure’s in Ohio and Colorado (neither of which are associated with their Florida namesake) represent two such possibilities.

10. Association for Firefighters and Paramedics

Deceptive fundraising ploys, improper allocation of funds, investigations by state authorities… if there was a checklist of what makes a charity less than reputable, the Association for Firefighters and Paramedics would tick every box. Unless you want your donation to fund the lavish lifestyles of the charity’s top exec’s, do yourself a favor and keep your money in your wallet.

11. Committee for Missing Children

Like Operation Lookout National Center for Missing Youth, the next entry to our list reports to help return missing children to the parent’s arms. In reality, only 2% of donations go towards the cause. The rest, funnily enough, somewhere makes it into the likes of director David Thelen’s pockets. Thelen may defend his excessive salary by claiming to spend endless hours counseling the families of the missing children, but we doubt they’ll be very thankful when they find out how little practical effort the charity puts into finding their kids.

12. Youth Development Fund

A foundation that provides funding to youth education programs, as well as helping turn the tide on teenagers falling victim to drug and alcohol abuse, sounds a noble enough cause, right? Wrong. In the case of the Youth Development Fund, the majority of its donations end up being siphoned off by executive Rick Bowen, who in turn, siphons the money into his production company. As Housely notes, unless you want your hard-earned cash going towards videos such as “underwater diving adventures,” find yourself another worthy cause to subsidy.

13. Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation

The Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation is one of 8 similarly dubious charities run by Greg Anderson. As with all his other “worthy” endeavors, the Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation uses the underhand tactic of passing off soliciting calls as charitable donations on their tax returns. As a result of training its solicitors to discuss how individuals can lessen their chances of a cancer diagnosis, 80% of the charity’s annual profits end up in the hands of its solicitors (rather than in the hands of the families it’s meant to be supporting).

14. Children’s Cancer Fund of America

Remember James Reynolds from the Cancer Fund of America (number 1 on our list, if you need a refresh). He’s back… or at least, his on-off wife Rose Parkins is. Parkins heads up the Children’s Cancer Fund of America, a foundation that allows her to draw a healthy annual salary of $227,000 (according to the IRS records of 2011, at least), a figure that is just about matched by the fund’s annual donations to charity. Of the millions of dollars’ worth of medical supplies it claims to have donated to developing nations, there’s no sign. Perhaps they ended up in the same place the Reynolds family’s credibility did…

15. American Association of State Troopers

American Association of State Troopers claims to support retired state troopers. As Smarter Giving notes, what is actually supports is the bank balances of its chief executives. IRS reports show that in 2011 alone, executive director Ken Howles drew an $87000 salary; of the little money left over, only around 9-14% made its way into the hands of the troopers.

16. National Veterans Service Fund

Kraft by name, crafty by nature… at the helm of the National Veterans Service Fund is one Phillip Kraft (and no, he’s no relation to the founder of Kraft Group, Robert (not, at least, that we’re aware. If he is, we’re sure Robert would have disowned him by now in any case). The charity boasts of providing support and care to the nation’s veterans, but the only donation the IRS has ever been able to trace to the organization is an insignificant sum towards a health clinic dealing in birth defects. The majority of the rest of the money has been used to line crafty Kraft’s pockets. Kraft remains unrepentant of the charity’s less than stellar record, telling As Vet Like Me: “A small percentage of something is better than 100 percent of nothing.”

17. Firefighter’s Charitable Foundation

The Firefighter’s Charitable Foundation says it provides financial assistance to the families of those who’ve been affected by fire or other disasters. Charity Navigator disagrees vehemently, affording the organization a devastatingly low 0 out of 4 stars. The reason? A deplorable 90% of the charity’s donations end up being claimed as fundraising expenses, leaving just 10% to go where it should be.

18. Kids Wish Network

Another charity to piggybank of the good name of the Make a Wish foundation is the far less reputable Kids Wish Network. According to, only 2.5 cents for every dollar raised goes towards the sick kids it claims to help- the majority of the rest, as you’d expect, is funneled back into the accounts of its fundraising solicitors.

19. International Union of Police Associations

Under any other guise, a charity which provides financial assistance to the families of police officers killed on active duty would seem a worthy cause indeed. Unfortunately, the International Union of Police Associations donates only 1% of its donations to its claimed beneficiaries.

20. Breast Cancer Relief Foundation

Whether the Breast Cancer Relief Foundation is immoral or just extremely incompetent, we’re a bit unsure. What we are sure of is that of the millions of dollars its claims to send in medical supplies to developing nations, there’s very little trace. Neither is there very much money making its way into cancer research, with only 2% of its donations ending up helping women with breast cancer.

Charities Where Your Donation Goes the Farthest

As the holiday season and new year approaches, you may feel inspired to donate to a special cause close to your hearts. But when you give your hard-earned money, you want to know your contribution will actually reach those in need. Luckily, charities are required to be open about their financials, and it’s easy to determine which allow your donation to go the furthest.

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Group of diversity people volunteer arm around

Know before you give

About 20 percent of charitable donations are made in December, which makes sense when you consider that folks are in the giving state of mind and likely want to take advantage of any possible tax deductions before the year ends. But before you open your wallet, it’s important to research your charity to check how much of your donation actually goes to help others versus covering administrative or other costs. Here are some of the charities where your donations go the furthest. Rather donate time than cash? Consider these creative ways to volunteer and make a difference.2 / 11

A health worker administers a Polio vaccination to a child at a camp setup by the World Vision NGO and UNICEF in Herat, Afghanistan, 08 August 2018.

The World Vision

This Christian organization spreads the message of Jesus and contributes funds and aid to families around the world. According to their website, they currently help more than 3.5 million children in 100 countries. These efforts include tsunami relief, medical care, and other necessities. If you feel inspired by their practices and align with their beliefs, you’ll be happy to know that 86 percent of their total operating expenses go toward programs that benefit children, families, and communities. They also make some beautiful gifts that give back.

Jean Stowell, an American doctor from Loconia, New Hampshire, running the emergency operation, carries 18 month old Yakubu a malnourished child at a feeding centre run by Doctors Without Borders in Maiduguri, Nigeria.

Doctors Without Borders

Since 1971, Doctors Without Borders has helped those in critical need around the world. By bringing medical professionals to areas of conflict or parts of the globe where infectious diseases run rampant, they’ve not only helped to improve the quality of life for tens of millions of people, but they’ve also saved countless communities. If you aren’t a doctor, you can still help this organization by donating money to their efforts. This money is used 88 percent for programs, 11 percent for fundraising and only 1 percent for management. Here are 15 ways you can help after a natural disaster.4 / 11

A Douglas fir, center, is left standing where a crew is thinning a 100-acre patch on private land owned by the Nature Conservancy overlooking Cle Elum Lake, in Cle Elum, Wash. As part of a broader plan by the nonprofit environmental group to restore the pine forests of the Central Cascades so they are more resilient to wildfires and climate change, they're cutting down trees to save the forest 22 Feb 2017

The Nature Conservancy

Though industrialization creates jobs and feeds demand, it also kills precious ecosystems the planet needs to thrive. Since 1951, The Nature Conservancy has worked tirelessly to be the figurative bodyguard for planet Earth. While the charity is based in Arlington, Virginia, they’ve successfully protected 119 million acres of land and thousand-upon-thousands of miles of rives globally. If you are Team Mother Earth, consider giving to this charity, since 96 percent of your donation goes toward their mission. Need another reason to donate? Giving money can help lower your taxes.5 / 11

Blind school children take part in a sensorial experience with tools created by NASA and Edinburgh University to experience an eclipse, during an event in the Helen Keller school in Santiago, Chile. 25 June 2019

Helen Keller International

You probably recall the amazing, heroic story of Helen Keller, who while blind and deaf, wrote timeless classics and became the very first blind-deaf person to earn a bachelor’s degree. Named in her honor, the Helen Keller International charity is working to improve the quality of life and the prevalence of malnutrition and blindness. This includes programs and research connected to all areas of health, nutrition, and vision. If this is a cause you cherish, consider donating, especially since 85¢ of every dollar goes straight to fund their work. Don’t miss these powerful ways you can give back without breaking the bank.ADVERTISEMENTADVERTISEMENT6 / 11

Danielle Fishel is seen holding a dog at the 2019 American Humane Hero Dog Awards at The Beverly Hilton, in Beverly Hills, California

American Humane

When you’re watching a TV show or a movie, do you ever notice the ‘No animals were harmed’ message? The reason furry friends are protected from mistreatment is thanks to the American Humane, a 100-year company that fights tirelessly for the safety of animals. In addition to their work in Hollywood, they also work to provide animal welfare conservation programs for farms, and rescue missions across the country. They were also named the highest-rated charity by Consumer Reports this year, with 91 cents of every dollar going directly to four-legged (and two-legged and no-legged) animal buddies. You can also help by donating one of these 18 things animal shelters desperately need right now to a local shelter.7 / 11

Myra Biblowit, BCRF President & CEO 28 Feb 2019

Breast Cancer Research Foundation

As its the most common cancer in American women, many groups are working to determine a cure for breast cancer. But the Breast Cancer Research Foundation—BCF for short—is the only one to have an “A” rating from They also have the GuideStar USA’S Gold Seal of Transparency, since they are open and candid about their strategies, goals, capabilities, achievements, and progress. This recognition is only given to the top 0.5 percent in this 1.8 million IRS-recognized organizations. When you contribute, 96 percent of donations go to programs and fundraising. Find out what oncologists wish people knew about breast cancer.

Michelle Obama First lady Michelle Obama hugs an unidentified girl, member of Girls Inc., after speaking at a fundraising lunch for the charity Girls Inc., in Omaha, Neb 24 Apr 2012

Girls Inc.

If you want to fundamentally change the next generation of women, your donation is well spent with Girls Inc. This nonprofit organization works in 350 cities across the country and Canada, to provide mentoring and support for girls aged 6 to 18. When these young women are part of the program, they do better in schoolwork, are more likely to attend (and graduate!) from college, and engage less in risky behaviors. For every dollar donated, 87¢ goes toward helping the girls, with only 2 percent toward management expenses. Find out the 10 things parents of girls wish they had known sooner.

Peter Deutsch, third right, CEO, Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, and Joseph Carr, second right, Founder, Josh Cellars, present a $113,900 check to actor Gary Sinise, center, and Judith Otter, second left, Executive Director, Gary Sinise Foundation, for their foundation after a concert by the Lt. Dan Band, in New York. Josh Cellars, a California wine brand, along with Deutsch Family and their distributor partners raised the funds for the Gary Sinise Foundation, which supports first responders, veterans and their families 5 May 2014

Gary Sinise Foundation

If you have a veteran or first-responder in your life, you know how much of themselves they give to the job—and that they aren’t always supported in the way these brave men and women deserve. That’s where the Gary Sinise Foundation steps in to offer programs to these special humans to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen, and build communities. For every dollar you donate to this important nonprofit, 91.12 percent is directly given to these programs. They also received the highest rating from Charity Navigator, by following excellent best practices in governance.10 / 11

Cambodian refugees at Wat Nhu Lai (temple) on route 5, just north of Phnom Penh on . Soup kitchen there is administered by Catholic relief services 7 Mar 1975

Catholic Relief Services

For decades, Catholic Relief Services, CRS, has worked to improve the quality of life for millions worldwide. As an active and efficient humanitarian aid organization, they send doctors and volunteers to dangerous, difficult parts of the world to battle emergencies, diseases, and other vital situations. Of all of the donations that are given, 93 percent goes directly to their efforts. They also met all of the 20 charity standards outlined by the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, giving them an “A” rating. Find out 35 simple acts of kindness that take two minutes or less.11 / 11

Tina Lundgren, Ruth C. Browne. Ronald McDonald House New York Chair of the Board Tina Lundgren, holding scissors, and CEO Dr. Ruth C. Browne, behind to the right, are joined by children, staff and board members of the House during the Ronald McDonald House New York Grand Re-Opening following the facility's $23.6 million renovation, in New York 18 Sep 2017

Ronald McDonald House

With 366 locations around the world, this nonprofit organization provides support and assistance to sick children. Whether it’s a safe place for parents to stay while their babies receive necessary treatment, or educational workshops to cheer up the darkest of spirits, the Ronald McDonald House never gives up on any child or family. And they put that money where it belongs, with 87 percent going directly to their work. If you’re on a budget, these random acts of kindness don’t cost a cent.

Who Gives Most to Charity?

From Alaskan bush villages to center-city Manhattan, local-scale philanthropy unfolds every day in nearly all American communities. At first glance this modest, unsplashy, omnipresent giving may seem mundane. Yet such microphilanthropy leaves deep imprints in almost every corner of American life, due to its sheer density and the intimate ways in which it is delivered.

The fireworks show that delighted your town this week. The children’s hospital where the burned girl from down the street was saved. The ­Rotary scholarship that allowed you to become dear friends with a visiting ­Indonesian graduate student. The church-organized handyman service that keeps your elderly mother in her home. The park that adds so much to your family life. These gifts, products of modest offerings from local foundations or groups of community donors, accumulate in powerful ways to make our daily existences safer, sweeter, more interesting.

It is easy to think of philanthropy as something done by the very wealthy, or big foundations, or prosperous companies. Actually, of the $358 billion that Americans gave to charity in 2014, only 14 percent came from foundation grants, and just 5 percent from corporations. The rest—81 percent—came from individuals.

And among individual givers in the U.S., while the wealthy do their part (as you’ll see later in this essay), the vast predominance of offerings come from average citizens of moderate income. Six out of ten U.S. households donate to charity in a given year, and the typical household’s annual gifts add up to between two and three thousand dollars.

This is different from the patterns in any other country. Per capita, ­Americans voluntarily donate about seven times as much as continental ­Europeans. Even our cousins the Canadians give to charity at substantially lower rates, and at half the total volume of an American household.

There are many reasons for this American distinction. Foremost is the fact that ours is the most religious nation in the industrial world. Religion motivates giving more than any other factor. A second explanation is our deep-rooted tradition of mutual aid, which has impressed observers like Tocqueville since our founding days. Third is the potent entrepreneurial impulse in the U.S., which generates overflowing wealth that can be shared, while simultaneously encouraging a “bootstrap” ethic that says we should help our neighbors pull themselves up (partly because, in our freewheeling economy, we could be the ones who need help next time).

But what lies beneath our high national average? Do subgroups of the U.S. population vary in their giving, and if so, how much? What exactly do we know about who gives in America, and what motivates them?

Dissecting who is generous and who is not can be controversial. And not all of the research agrees. So we have methodically waded through heaps of studies and drawn out for you the clearest findings. You’re about to learn what today’s best social science has to say about the geography, demography, and economics of generosity in America. Some of it will surprise you.

How U.S. regions vary

There have been several attempts to compare the charitable giving of different U.S. states and regions. The most straightforward measures match the itemized charitable donations of local taxpayers to their incomes (both pulled from official IRS figures). The Fraser Institute and the Catalogue for Philanthropy have each used variations of this method to reveal what fraction of their annual resources residents are giving away to philanthropic causes, versus consuming or saving for themselves.

1 Almanac Who Gives

These “giving ratios” reveal a consistent pattern. Measured by how much they share out of what they have available, the most generous Americans are not generally those in high-income, urban, liberal states like California or Massachusetts. Rather, people living in states that are more rural, conservative, religious, and moderate in income are our most generous givers. (See the two charts above for listing of the top and bottom givers.)

2 Almanac Who Gives

This same pattern is seen in data very different from the IRS returns. The Panel Study of Income Dynamics is a high-quality microstudy of several thousand U.S. households that are representative of the national population, and whose characteristics have been tracked in detail by researchers over a period of years. When income and charitable giving are compared among this carefully documented group, the willingness to “give until it hurts” can be seen to vary sharply by locale.

3 Almanac Who Gives

In the PSID statistics, the top regions for donations as a percent of income are the Mountain West, the East South Central states (Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky), the West North Central states (South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska), and the West South Central states (Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana). The least giving region was New England, closely trailed by the Middle Atlantic states (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York). The variations are not trivial: the top group of Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, ­Nevada, and New Mexico were more than twice as generous as the residents of New England or the Mid-Atlantic region. (See “Giving by region” above.)

Major study released

A third take on this topic was assembled by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Its study “How America Gives” analyzed IRS income and giving data right down to the level of individual counties in the U.S. The researchers used the latest IRS returns available—2012 in their most recently published update. (More details on the results can be seen in Graphs 16 and 17 of this book’s “Statistics on U.S. Generosity” section.)

The results? Not much different from the portraits above. Using four large regional groupings, “How America Gives” reported that Southerners are America’s most sacrificial givers, while Northeasterners are substantially less generous.

4 Almanac Who Gives

Regional results are above. Below are the top and bottom ten states for giving, according to the Chronicle calculations. Once again, the biggest givers are found to be concentrated in “Bible Belt” states in the South or where Mormons make up a large portion of the population.
On the other hand, scant-giving households are heavily concentrated in relatively wealthy  and secular New England.

5 Almanac Who Gives

This effect holds up not only across states but also in major cities. For instance, denizens of Salt Lake City, Birmingham, Memphis, Nashville, and Atlanta donate from 4 to 6 percent of their discretionary income to charity, while counterparts in Boston, Hartford, and Providence average just 2 percent. Silicon Valley is legendary for its wealth, yet lags badly in charity—the Chronicle data show San Jose and San Francisco falling near the bottom among our 50 biggest cities, giving away just 2.2 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively, of their income.

6 Almanac Who Gives

There are about the same number of people in urban, high-education San Francisco County as there are in the rural, religious state of South Dakota, economist Arthur Brooks once noted. And families in these two regions give almost exactly the same amount to charity every year. Yet because the average family income is about $45,000 in South Dakota compared to $81,000 in San Francisco, the typical South Dakota household is actually giving away 75 percent more of its income every year than a San Fran counterpart.

Struggling to explain New England’s lag

A few years ago, some Bostonians chagrined by these findings created a study which tried to further “rebalance” the national statistics, which they felt did not fully reflect the willingness to give in their region. They used their own methods for adjusting income downward to compensate for high taxes and living costs, and they created estimates of additional giving by persons who don’t itemize their contributions on their taxes. Their results are quite different from all other measures.

In this more synthetic data, evidence of scant giving in New England remains, but the top and bottom groups are otherwise much more jumbled and difficult to see patterns in.

7 Almanac Who Gives

The Boston data have not been widely embraced, for a variety of reasons. About 80 percent of all charitable dollars are captured in the itemized giving data from the IRS (which provide the backbone for the “Generosity Index” and “How America Gives” studies cited earlier). And a large proportion of the donations that are not itemized come from religious conservatives who do not reside heavily in the regions the Boston analysts aim to bolster. These factors leave many observers skeptical of statistical manipulations that re­order the clear trends seen in the IRS data—which are hard measures, not extrapolations or statistical models like the Boston numbers.

One intriguing pattern that emerges from the Boston data is a class stratification in New England when it comes to charitable giving. Among people making $100,000 or more in 2003, New Englanders were actually more generous than the national average. Yet among people in the middle-income band ($25,000 to $99,999), New Englanders fell below the national average in giving. And among the low-income (less than $25,000 of annual income in 2003), New Englanders were notoriously skin-flinty, giving at less than half the national average for that income group. All of this may reflect the region’s lower level of religious belief, a factor which, as we’ll see, dramatically lifts giving, even among the comparatively poor.

Red state versus blue state

A strong pattern that makes some commentators uneasy is the fact that, as Brooks put it, “the electoral map and the charity map are remarkably similar.” Or to quote the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 2012 summary of its giving research, “the eight states that ranked highest voted for John McCain in the last presidential contest…while the seven lowest-ranking states supported Barack Obama.”

In addition to this political tinge, there are many other fascinating demographic and cultural patterns in the national giving statistics. For instance, the PSID survey shows that while New Englanders rank dead last in percentage of income donated to charity, their participation rate (fraction of the population who give something) is actually higher than in any other region. New Englanders reflect, and indeed may lead, the extraordinary American propensity to donate to others. They just don’t give as much as residents of other regions.

Some other results emerging from statistical regression of the PSID data: All other things being equal, the self-employed give less to charity. So do people who have moved residences more than the norm. Residents of rural areas and small towns, on the other hand, donate at higher levels.

8 Almanac Who Gives

The demographic characteristic most likely to increase giving to charitable causes is marriage. Compared to the unmarried, married households were 62 percent more giving in 2011. This was after all other factors like income, race, region, etc. were statistically adjusted for, using base data from the government’s Consumer Expenditure Survey.

Surprisingly, people who volunteer at secular organizations are a bit undergiving, in regressions of the PSID statistics. Meanwhile, persons who volunteer at religious organizations are dramatically bigger donors of money.

Religious practice is the behavioral variable most consistently associated with generous giving. Charitable effort correlates strongly with the frequency with which a person attends religious services. Evangelical Protestants and Mormons in particular are strong givers. Compared to Protestant affiliation, both Catholic affiliation and Jewish affiliation reduce the scope of average giving, when other influences are held constant.

Finer-grain numbers from the PSID show that the faithful don’t just give to religious causes; they are also much more likely to give to secular causes than the non-religious. Among Americans who report that they “never” attend religious services, just less than half give any money at all to secular causes. People who attend services 27-52 times per year, though, give money to secular charities in two thirds of all cases. (See page 1138.)

Sociologist Robert Putnam has chronicled the many pro-social and philanthropic overflow effects of religious practice. Not only is half of all American personal philanthropy and half of all volunteering directly religious in character, but nearly half of all associational membership in the U.S. is church-related. Religious practice links us in webs of mutual knowledge, responsibility, and support like no other influence.

Indeed, faith is as important as basic financial success in increasing giving. And religious conviction is often what separates one sub-group from another when it comes to charitable practice. For instance, African Americans, who are generally more religious than whites, are consequently 18 percent bigger givers when households of the same income, region, education, and so forth are compared.

Giving by income level

The curve charting charitable generosity by income takes on an unexpected U-shape largely thanks to the faith factor described above. People with means, as you might expect, are substantial givers. Middle-class Americans donate a little less. But the lower-income population surprises by giving more than the middle—and in some measures even more than the top. (As a percentage of available income, that is. In absolute dollars, those in higher income groups give much, much more money.)

The graph below combines results from six different studies of how giving varies as income changes. Each study uses somewhat different definitions of income, different universes of households, measured in different years, so they are not strictly comparable, but I have made some basic standardizations and converted results to present-day dollars so readers can observe the general trend uncovered by each of these analyses: If you measure charitable donations as a fraction of the donor’s income, giving is most robust at the top and bottom of the earnings spectrum.

People are generally more philanthropic toward the end of their lives, when they tend to have more savings, time, and motivation to help others. (Giving peaks at ages 61-75, when 77 percent of households donate, ­compared to just over 60 percent among households headed by someone 26-45 years old.) Some of the low-income givers charted on my “u-graph” are undoubtedly retirees who, while their annual incomes are modest, have accumulated wealth that allows them to be generous donors.

The other factor accounting for the high level of donations among low-­income Americans is that a significant minority of them are religious tithers who powerfully push up the group average through sacrificial giving. If you look at what fraction of each group gives, various studies show that the rate of donation among low-income persons is actually half or less of what it is for the rest of the population. Only about a third of low-income individuals give any money at all in a year. But those who are givers tend to be extremely generous, with a third or half of them giving at least 5 percent of their income. These sacrificial givers motivated heavily by religion are found much more among what might be called the working class (households making $25,000-$45,000 in current dollars) than among the truly poor.

The 1 percent

High-income households provide an outsized share of all philanthropic giving. Those in the top 1 percent of the income distribution (any family making $394,000 or more in 2015) provide about a third of all charitable dollars given in the U.S. When it comes to bequests, the rich are even more important: the wealthiest 1.4 percent of Americans are responsible for 86 percent of the charitable donations made at death, according to one study.

At the top of the income spectrum, charitable giving bumps upward both in dollars and as a fraction of income. The fullest study of wealthy donors is done every two years by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana ­University. The chart on the opposite page averages findings from three of its recent reports.

The very wealthy, this shows, give away a much larger chunk of their earnings than others. These robust rates of giving are elevated, however, by the extreme generosity of a subset of the rich. While donations to charity are almost universal among wealthy households (more than 97 percent make some annual gift, according to the Indiana data), data show that many of those gifts are comparatively modest. Others are extraordinarily copious—and these push up the donation average.

9 Almanac Who Gives

If instead of the average percentage of income given away by wealthy households, we look at the median percentage (meaning that half gave more than this amount, and half gave less), the wealthy appear less magnanimous. From 2007-2011, the median wealthy household (having annual income of $200,000+ or assets of $1 million+) gave away 3.4 percent of its income.

Interestingly, when rich people live in separate enclaves they are not as generous as when they live interspersed in normal communities. The “How America Gives” study showed that when households earning $200,000 a year make up more than 40 percent of the residents of a particular ZIP code, they give just 2.8 percent of their discretionary income to charity. If they live in more mixed neighborhoods and towns, though, they give an average of closer to 5 percent.

Physical separation and economic stratification corrode social cooperation and generosity. In towns, villages, and cities where Americans of differing fortunes live in more traditional combinations, though, generosity flourishes. And for many Americans, the resulting giving seems to be deeply connected to satisfaction in life.

“I came to realize that expanding my philanthropic activities could be both meaningful and fun,” successful oil businessman Jim Calaway told Philanthropy magazine in 2015. “Making a lot of money and spending it on yourself is not a lot of fun,” he noted in an earlier interview with the Chronicle of Philanthropy. “What is a lot of fun is to live modestly so that you can give to the common good. That’s where happiness really lies.”

Many Of The Largest Charities In America Are Giant Money Making Scams

How would you feel if you donated money to help disaster victims or cancer patients and you later found out that more than 97 percent of the money that you gave never got into the hands of the people that needed it?  Sadly, that is happening all over America today.  In fact, in some of the worst cases, less than a penny of every dollar that is donated ends up in the hands of those that need the help.  If you can believe it, right now there are 6,000 charities in the United States that use for-profit companies to raise money for them, and in many of those instances the for-profit companies end up keeping more than 50 percent of the donations for themselves.  In addition, many charities end up paying their employees “salaries” that are far greater than the total amount of money that the charities actually give to the needy.  The Tampa Bay Times, CNN and the Center for Investigative Reporting recently teamed up to conduct an investigation, and they came up with a list of the 50 worst charities in America.  They discovered that those charities raised more than $1.3 billion over the past ten years combined, but that nearly $1 billion of that total went to the for-profit companies that raise their donations for them.  The American people are being scammed out of an enormous amount of money, and people need to learn the truth about this.

According to the report that was put out, the “Kids Wish Network” is the absolute worst charity in America.  The following is how the Tampa Bay Times describes them…

The worst charity in America operates from a metal warehouse behind a gas station in Holiday.

Every year, Kids Wish Network raises millions of dollars in donations in the name of dying children and their families.

Every year, it spends less than 3 cents on the dollar helping kids.

Most of the rest gets diverted to enrich the charity’s operators and the for-profit companies Kids Wish hires to drum up donations.

In the past decade alone, Kids Wish has channeled nearly $110 million donated for sick children to its corporate solicitors. An additional $4.8 million has gone to pay the charity’s founder and his own consulting firms.

110 million dollars is a colossal amount of money.

Imagine how much good that could have done if it had actually gone to sick kids.

Instead, it went to enrich scammers that own shady companies that run pushy telemarketing operations.

Apparently “charity work” has become one of the most prominent “get rich quick” schemes in America.  The following is how CNN summarized some of the most important findings of the investigation…

— The 50 worst charities in America devote less than 4% of donations raised to direct cash aid. Some charities gave even less. Over a decade, one diabetes charity raised nearly $14 million and gave about $10,000 to patients. Six spent no cash at all on their cause.

— Even as they plead for financial support, operators at many of the 50 worst charities have lied to donors about where their money goes, taken multiple salaries, secretly paid themselves consulting fees or arranged fund-raising contracts with friends. One cancer charity paid a company owned by the president’s son nearly $18 million over eight years to solicit funds. A medical charity paid its biggest research grant to its president’s own for-profit company.

— Some nonprofits are little more than fronts for fund-raising companies, which bankroll their startup costs, lock them into exclusive contracts at exorbitant rates and even drive the charities into debt. Florida-based Project Cure has raised more than $65 million since 1998, but every year has wound up owing its fundraiser more than what was raised. According to its latest financial filing, the nonprofit is $3 million in debt.

— To disguise the meager amount of money that reaches those in need, charities use accounting tricks and inflate the value of donated dollar-store cast-offs – snack cakes and air fresheners – that they give to dying cancer patients and homeless veterans.

When you get a call at dinner time asking for money for sick children or to help support your local police, there is a good chance that call is coming from a “boiler room” that is being staffed by whatever shady characters that particular for-profit telemarketing firm was able to hire.  If you give them money, there is a very good chance that most of the money will be kept by the telemarketers.

And you never know who is on the other end of that telephone.  According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, it is often convicted felons that are taking down the credit card numbers of people that think that they are donating money to a good cause…

These charity-run boiler rooms are tucked behind unmarked doors in low-rent, mostly vacant strip centers. During a visit to one earlier this year, reporters saw about 20 men sitting at long tables, hunched over computers and wearing headsets. Working to raise enough money to hit bonus levels scrawled out on a whiteboard, they asked donors to give to help the families of officers killed in the line of duty.

Police Protective Fund’s Florida operations were ignored by state regulators until 2010.

That year, a local sheriff’s office fielded a complaint and raided one of the charity’s phone rooms in Port Richey.

According to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office report, deputies found that 11 of the 27 employees who were calling for donations and taking down credit card numbers were convicted felons.

According to the investigation mentioned above, the following are the ten worst charities in America and the percentage of money that is donated to those organizations that actually goes to help people…

1. Kids Wish Network (2.5%)
2. Cancer Fund of America (0.9%)
3. Children’s Wish Foundation International (10.8%)
4. American Breast Cancer Foundation (5.3%)
5. Firefighters Charitable Foundation (8.4%)
6. Breast Cancer Relief Foundation (2.2%)
7. International Union of Police Associations (0.5%)
8. National Veterans Service Fund (7.8%)
9. American Association of State Troopers (8.6%)
10. Children’s Cancer Fund of America (5.3%)

The number two charity on the list, the Cancer Fund of America, deserves particular attention.  Over the past ten years, the Cancer Fund of America has raised nearly 100 million dollars.  Most of the donors probably assumed that most of the money would go to fund cancer research or to help cancer patients.  Unfortunately, that was not the case at all

In the past three years alone, Cancer Fund and its associated charities raised $110 million. The charities paid more than $75 million of that to solicitors. Cancer Fund ranks second on the Times/CIR list of America’s worst charities. (Florida’s Kids Wish Network placed first.)

Salaries in 2011 topped $8 million — 13 times more than patients received in cash. Nearly $1 million went to Reynolds family members.

The network’s programs are overstated at best. Some have been fabricated.

“Urgent pain medication” supposedly provided to critically ill cancer patients amounted to nothing more than over-the-counter ibuprofen, regulators determined. A program to drive patients to chemotherapy, touted by the charity in mailings, didn’t even exist.

One Reynolds family charity, Breast Cancer Society, told the IRS it shipped $36 million worth of medical supplies overseas in 2011. But the two companies named as suppliers of the donated goods said they have no record of dealing with the group.

Over the past 20 years, Cancer Fund has run afoul of regulators in at least six states, paying more than $525,000 to settle charges that include lying to donors. It hasn’t slowed the network.

The fines amount to about one-third of one percent of the $177 million raised by Cancer Fund of America over the same period.

Ultimately, less than one percent of the money raised by the Cancer Fund of America goes to help cancer patients…

Cancer Fund’s tally over the past decade: Family members nearly $5 million. Cancer patients$890,000.

The biggest winners were the fundraising companies. They earned more than 80 cents of every dollar donated for a total of $80.4 million.

Does that make you sick?

It should.

Of course there are many really good charities out there.  Hopefully this information will not keep people from donating to them.

But don’t just donate to anyone without carefully investigating them first, and definitely do not donate money over the phone.

Hopefully if enough people stop donating money over the phone it will start putting many of these telemarketers out of business, and that will be a great thing for all of us.

12 Shockingly High Nonprofit CEO Salaries

Out of 3,929 charities reviewed in Charity Navigator’s 2013 CEO Compensation Study, a whopping 78 of the CEOs mentioned reportedly earned salaries between $500,000 and $1 million. The study revealed many donors simply assume these leaders work for free or minimal pay. It’s easy to forget that these large charities are multi-million dollar operations.

Are these high-earning execs pulling a fair salary for their good works, or are their impressive salaries questionable considering the nature of their work?

Several states, including New York, New Jersey, Florida and Massachusetts, have pushed legislation to limit the salary of nonprofit CEOs who accept public funding. Florida pushed for a limit of $129,972, while Massachusetts suggested $500,000 (Forbes). New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told Forbes, “These regulations will allow the state government to identify and stop the few providers that pocket taxpayer dollars rather than use them to serve the public.”

When qualified talent is already earning less than what would be offered by a for-profit company, the issue comes down to a question of whether or not a strong corporate culture is crucial to the success of these charities. In the corporate world, a higher salary results in a greater value. While looking at CEO compensation for these charities is only one number, if their talent results in greater revenue for the organization, the level of income may be justifiable. Take a look at this list of 12 nonprofit CEOs raking in a staggering annual salary, and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Laurance Hoagland Jr., Chief Investment Officer of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation earns a hefty salary of $2.5 million. The Hewlett Foundation has a wide range of goals—reducing global poverty, limiting the risk of climate change, advancing education, improving reproductive health rights and supporting local performing arts. (Huffington Post)

American Cancer Society

John Seffrin, CEO of American Cancer Society, earns $2.1 million, while also serving at the White House on the public health advisory group. The American Cancer Society is the world’s largest voluntary health organization fighting cancer. (Huffington Post)

Boys & Girls Club of America

Roxanne Spillett, President of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, earns $1.8 million at an organization with expenses exceeding $130 million (CNN Money). The Boys & Girls Club provides educational after-school programs for more than 4,000 chapters, serving around 4 million children. (Huffington Post)

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Emily K. Rafferty, President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, earns nearly $1.5 million. The Met was founded in 1870 to encourage the study and application of fine arts. The Met’s yearly expenses have reached $386 million (CNN Money). (Charity Navigator)

Los Angeles Opera

Placido Domingo, General Director of the Los Angeles Opera earns $1.35 million. Domingo is an opera singer and conductor as well, performing in more than 3,600 shows. Domingo has won twelve Grammy’s and has played a role in three opera films. This charitable CEO played a voice role in Disney’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua. (Huffington Post)

The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts

Michael Kaiser, President of the JFK Center for Performing Arts in Washington D.C., earns $1.348 million. Kaiser previously worked for the Royal Opera House and was a corporate advisor before focusing on the arts, working for clients like GM and IBM. The Kennedy Center seeks the best performers from around the world, while striving to be a leader in arts education. (Huffington Post)

Metropolitan Opera Association

Peter Gelb, General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera Association in New York, earns $1.3 million. The Met Opera hosts more than 200 performances every year with some of the world’s most creative and talented artists worldwide. Gelb has had a lifelong love of the opera. He began working at the Met Opera at 17 years old as an usher. Now, as General Manager, Gelb earns $78K in benefits. The Met Opera is currently undergoing a drop in attendance and severe labor negotiations, discussing cuts of 17 percent their annual compensation (New York Observer). (Huffington Post)

Museum of Modern Art, New York

Glenn Lowry, Chief Executive of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, earns $1.2 million. Notably, the museum raised admission costs in 2012, while the CEO still receives $318K in housing to live free of charge in a $6 million apartment in MoMA’s residential tower. (Huffington Post)

United Way Worldwide

Brian A. Gallagher, President and CEO of United Way Worldwide, earns $1.2 million. United Way was founded in 1887 to transport leaders and support to 41 countries and territories around the world. Groups promote educational and health initiatives to suffering communities. (Charity Navigator)

J. Paul Getty Trust

James Williams, Chief Investment Officer of the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles, earns $1.2 million. The Getty, one of the world’s wealthiest art institutions, is dedicated to carefully presenting and conserving the world’s artistic legacy. After cutting back on several programs and employees and raising parking costs during the recession, Williams was able to maintain his more-than-agreeable salary. (Huffington Post)

National Jewish Health

Michael Salem, President and CEO of National Jewish Health, earns a salary of just over $1 million. National Jewish Health is the leading hospital for respiratory care in the United States. (Charity Navigator)


Michael Miller, CEO of Goodwill, earns $856,043. Goodwill uses donations to train people for jobs who are currently unemployed. After being ridiculed by the Oregon Department of Justice for an “unreasonable” salary, Miller continues with compensation surpassing $850,000. During Miller’s time at Goodwill, he has increased revenue up to 107 percent to a record $135.5 million, while adding 1,000 jobs since 2004. The number of people served through Goodwill has increased from 11,694 to 52,170 during Miller’s leadership, perhaps proving the benefit of well-paid charity CEOs (Portland Business Journal).

Sizing up Salaries at Charities

The study examined CEO compensation at 3,929 mid to large sized charities in America to help donors, policymakers, charity Boards and others understand how leadership pay varies by the charity’s location, size and mission.  Findings from the report include:

  • Modest raises are the norm since the recession: Salaries for the CEOs in this study increased modestly since the recession: just 0.8% from 2008 to 2009 and 1.5% from 2009 to 2010 and 2.5% from 2010 to 2011.  These fairly small increases come after the 4.7% median increase charity CEOs received from 2007 to 2008.
  • Charity CEOs that aspire to have big salaries are more likely to succeed if they work at an Educational charity: The data shows that top pay at charities can vary greatly by mission with the heads of Educational charities earning as much as $90,000 more than those running Religious charities.
  • Geography influences the top executive’s salary: CEO salaries at nonprofits reflect the regional variation in the cost of living.  For example, CEOs at charities in the Northeast ($149,523) and Mid-Atlantic ($147,474), which include Boston, Washington D.C. and New York, tend to earn higher salaries, than those in the Mountain West ($108,893) and Midwest ($114,050), which include Milwaukee, Boise and Salt Lake City. 
  • The bigger the charity’s budget, the bigger the CEO’s wallet: Not surprisingly, the higher the charity’s total expenses, the more likely it is that the CEO will earn higher compensation.  Charities with over $500 million in total expenses report a median pay of $422,578 for their CEOs whereas charities with $1 – $3.5 million in total expenses report a median pay of just $95,661.
  • Mission, location and size also impact the CEO’s raise: Leaders at charities in the Northeast (2.7%), those focused on educational issues (3.1%) and those at larger organizations (3.6%) received the greatest median raises.  In contrast, CEOs at charities in the Mountain West (1.8%), those working at religious charities (0%) and those running smaller organizations (1.7%) received the lowest increases in pay.
  • While most nonprofit leaders earn reasonable salaries, a handful earns excessive wages: 9 of the charities in the study pay their CEO more than $1 million.  That’s up from calendar year 2010 when 6 charities in the study had CEOs that were paid at least $1 million.
  • There are still some charities that report they essentially set their CEO’s pay in a vacuum of information:  Nonprofit Boards should have a documented policy for establishing the CEO’s pay.  That objective process should include a review of the CEO performance and benchmarking against comparable organizations.  244 charities in this study reported that they don’t have a policy in place for determining their CEO’s pay.  The good news is that this is down from last year when 543 charities reported that they didn’t have a policy for setting their CEO’s salary.

“Given our research, which show that the typical charity CEO earns just $125,000, we do not believe that salaries approaching a million dollars or more are needed to attract bright, able, and committed candidates to positions of nonprofit leadership.  As such, we agree that donors should continue to be skeptical of charities that pay salaries hovering near or above one million dollars, but that they not discount organizations where the leader’s pay is in the low six figures,” said Charity Navigator, president & CEO, Ken Berger. 

CEO pay includes salary, cash bonuses and expense accounts, but not contributions to benefit plans or deferred compensation that is allocated to be paid in later years.  The data for this report was gathered from the charities’ Forms 990 (annual informational tax filing) for the fiscal year ending 2011.

20 incredible charities that give 99% of the money they get to the actual cause

Last year, Americans gave more than $389 billion to charity, with individual donations — versus corporate or foundation donations — representing about three-fourths of this total. And this year, as the economy continues to improve, we’re expected to give even more. American individuals and households will likely increase their giving by 3.0% in 2017, according to research from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.

As we’re giving more, many of us are no doubt wondering: How much of my money is going to the actual cause versus to things like administrative or fundraising costs? So Moneyish teamed up with Charity Navigator, a nonprofit that evaluates charitable organizations, to figure out which highly rated charities give the most money to the actual programs they’re supporting, versus administrative or fundraising efforts.

Here’s a list of Charity Navigator’s top 20 high-impact organizations — all of which give 99% of the money they receive to the cause and have high overall ratings, in terms of financial health, accountability and transparency. Giving 99% of the money you receive to the cause is exceptional — even in a world where most funds do go towards the cause: About seven in 10 charities give 75% or more to the cause and nine in 10 give 60% or more to the cause, Charity Navigator has found.

Charity NamePercentage of funds that go directly to the cause, versus administrative or fundraising costs
International Children’s Fund99.70%
The Foodbank of Southern California99.60%
CIS Development Foundation99.50%
Matthew 25: Ministries99.40%
Kids In Need Foundation99.40%
Brother’s Brother Foundation99.40%
Direct Relief99.40%
MAP International99.30%
Delivering Good99.30%
Books For Africa99.20%
Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma99.20%
Christian Blind Mission International99.20%
Midwest Food Bank, NFP99.20%
World Medical Relief99.20%
Feeding Tampa Bay99.10%
Feeding America’s Hungry Children99.10%
Caring Voice Coalition99.00%
Foster Care to Success99.00%

Source: Charity Navigator

Still, it’s important to note that not all charities can reasonably give 85% or more of the money they get to program expenses — that’s money going right to the program/cause versus fundraising and administrative costs — and that allocating less to program expenses doesn’t mean the charity isn’t making a huge impact, says Sally Boulter, the senior engagement officer at Impact. Assets, a firm that focuses on investing that makes a difference.

No matter where you give money, it’s important to remember a few things about giving this holiday season, experts say.

Consider where you want to give, says Boulter. Ask yourself: “what is your personal mission– the causes you care about?” and also how you want to make a difference, she says. So, let’s say you care about animals — you’ll want to identify charities that focus on animals, and then look at how each of those organizations makes a difference in that field. If you want to change laws around animal rights, you’d likely give to a much different organization than if you want to make sure strays find nice homes.

Vet the charity. Websites can make figuring out if a charity is legit and solid pretty simple. Boulter says that sites like Charity Navigator (for those giving smaller gifts) and GuideStar (for those giving larger gifts) — both of which rate charitable organizations and give you information about them — are decent starting points for vetting charities.

Think about when to give. Boulter says you shouldn’t wait until late December to give. “Stores are not the only ones who are busy during this season. Charities, brokers and the post office are all running at capacity. If you want to get credit for your gift in 2017, it is best to do it early,” she says.

Make an even bigger impact. Facebook and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are teaming up to match up to $2 million in funds raised for charities on Giving Tuesday, which is November 28th. Here’s how you can make sure your donation gets matched; Facebook will also waive its usual fee for making donations.

See the impact of the charity’s work firsthandsays Susan Hartley Moss, the senior vice president at EMM Wealth. “Nothing can take the place of a site visit and seeing them in their own environment. Site visits are invaluable to the decision-making process,” she says.

Consider the tax implications. Be sure to note charitable donations on your tax forms. If you itemize your deductions, there is a federal income tax deduction for charitable gifts — and some states also allow charitable deductions, explains Carol Kroch, the national director of philanthropic planning at Wilmington Trust. Plus, if you’ve own stock for more than a year that has appreciated, you may want to consider gifting that to a charity, as you may be able to avoid the capital gains tax you otherwise would have paid when you sold the stock, Kroch says.

I think I have covered the subject of charities enough. Hopefully if you are planning on donating any money in the near future I have made the choice(s) a little easier.

While I am not by any means a world traveler, I have been fortunate to do some traveling overseas. I was an avid scuba diver for many years, in a previous life. To chase down the perfect dive locations, I visited a lot of island chains. Many of these islands could be considered developing countries. One thing I noticed was the disparity between the classes. The vast majority of the people living in these islands lived in poverty and substandard conditions. One island I dove in was the Island of Roatan. While riding on a tour the guide pointed out the Governor’s mansion. I was amazed at how lavish it was. I just imagined on what the money spent on this mansion could do for the people of the island. Unfortunately this was not an isolated situation. The more islands I visited a familiar pattern appeared. There were two distinct countries, one that catered to the tourists with their expensive and lavish resorts and the rest of the outlying country which was impoverished. I know millions of dollars are being funneled into these resorts, where is the money going? I am sure that the salaries they are paying the locals are substandard. My wife is Filipino, so a few years ago we visited the Philippines. I was able to schedule a few days of scuba diving at a nice resort during our trip. It was off season, so we were the only people staying there. As usual I am always inquisitive, so we talked to the “underworked” serving staff. It was amazing what was required of them. They were forced to work over 60 hours a week. Every employee had to have a degree in hotel management. While I don’t remember their actual salary, I do remember that my wife was appalled by how small it was. Even though their wages were pitiful, they were thankful to even have a job.

Tourism is a billion dollar industry throughout the world, but unfortunately a vast portion of the profits go to large multinational corporations. I guess I should be happy that they are providing much needed jobs to the locals.

In the book I am currently reading it states that there are over a billion people living in poverty in African and Asia. The problem is there is little or no hope that their conditions will ever improve. The conditions are too extreme and the corruption too pervasive. Billions of dollars are being funneled into these countries, but little money is actually making it to the poor. I am sure that many of my readers have heard of and seen the movie “Blackhawk Down.” While the story was true, the actual movie had quite a few errors in it. But I am not a film critic so I won’t deal with them now. One thing you might have noticed is that the warlords in Somalia were hording the food brought in by the foreign aid workers. It was the job of the military to protect these workers and to help them dispense the food equitably. You may think that this is an isolated situation, I can assure you that it is not. You can find countless examples on the internet.

As of fiscal year 2019, foreign aid totaled $39 billion: less than 1% of total spending. In terms of raw quantity, the U.S. spends the most on foreign aid of any country; however, as a percent of GDP, US foreign aid spending ranks near the bottom compared to other developed countries.

Costs of the 20-year war on terror: $8 trillion and 900,000 deaths

A report from the Costs of War project at Brown University revealed that 20 years of post-9/11 wars have cost the U.S. an estimated $8 trillion and have killed more than 900,000 people.

Nearly 20 years after the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan, the cost of its global war on terror stands at $8 trillion and 900,000 deaths, according to a new report from the Costs of War project at Brown University. 

The Costs of War project, founded more than a decade ago at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs and co-directed by two Brown scholars, released its influential annual report ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, the impetus for an ongoing American effort to root out terrorism in the Middle East and beyond.

Stephanie Savell, Catherine Lutz and Neta Crawford
The Costs of War project is co-directed by Stephanie Savell (left), Catherine Lutz (center) and Neta Crawford (right).

“The war has been long and complex and horrific and unsuccessful… and the war continues in over 80 countries,” said Catherine Lutz, co-director of Costs of War and a professor of international and public affairs at Brown, during a virtual event hosted by the Watson Institute on Wednesday, Sept. 1. “The Pentagon and the U.S. military have now absorbed the great majority of the federal discretionary budget, and most people don’t know that. Our task, now and in future years, is to educate the public on the ways in which we fund those wars and the scale of that funding.”

The research team’s $8 trillion estimate accounts for all direct costs of the country’s post-9/11 wars, including Department of Defense Overseas Contingency Operations funding; State Department war expenditures and counterterror war-related costs, including war-related increases to the Pentagon’s base budget; care for veterans to date and in the future; Department of Homeland Security spending; and interest payments on borrowing for these wars. The total includes funds that the Biden administration requested in May 2021.

The death toll, standing at an estimated 897,000 to 929,000, includes U.S. military members, allied fighters, opposition fighters, civilians, journalists and humanitarian aid workers who were killed as a direct result of war, whether by bombs, bullets or fire. It does not, the researchers noted, include the many indirect deaths the war on terror has caused by way of disease, displacement and loss of access to food or clean drinking water.

“The deaths we tallied are likely a vast undercount of the true toll these wars have taken on human life,” said Neta Crawford, a co-founder of the project and a professor of political science at Boston University. “It’s critical we properly account for the vast and varied consequences of the many U.S. wars and counterterror operations since 9/11, as we pause and reflect on all of the lives lost.”

“ Twenty years from now, we’ll still be reckoning with the high societal costs of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars — long after U.S. forces are gone. ”

STEPHANIE SAVELL  Co-director, Costs of War project

The report comes at the end of a contentious U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, where Taliban insurgents captured every major city and seized governmental control as American military units worked to extract 123,000 troops, diplomats and allies. Of the $8 trillion, $2.3 trillion is attributed to the Afghanistan/Pakistan war zone, according to the report.

In an address to the nation on Tuesday, Aug. 31, President Joe Biden cited Costs of War estimates to convey the financial and human burden of the 20-year war in Afghanistan as he defended his decision to withdraw from the country.

“We no longer had a clear purpose in an open-ended mission in Afghanistan,” Biden said. “After more than $2 trillion spent in Afghanistan, costs that Brown University researchers estimated would be over $300 million a day for 20 years — yes, the American people should hear this… what have we lost as a consequence, in terms of opportunities? …I refuse to send America’s sons and daughters to fight a war that should have ended long ago.”

Even as the U.S. exits Afghanistan, Costs of War estimates show that Americans are far from done paying the bill on the war on terror, which continues across multiple continents. The cumulative cost of military intervention in the Iraq/Syria war zone has risen to $2.1 trillion since 9/11, and about $355 billion more has funded military presence in other countries, including Somalia and a handful of African countries.

And when the wars do end, the costs of war will continue to rise, the report notes: A towering $2.2 trillion of the estimated financial total accounts for future care that has already been set aside for military veterans, the researchers said, and the U.S. and other countries could pay the cost of environmental damage wrought by the wars for generations to come.

“What have we truly accomplished in 20 years of post-9/11 wars and at what price?” said Stephanie Savell, co-director of the Costs of War Project and a senior research associate at the Watson Institute. “Twenty years from now, we’ll still be reckoning with the high societal costs of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars — long after U.S. forces are gone.”

The Watson Institute’s virtual event included commentary from multiple researchers associated with the Costs of War Project, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and U.S. Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Ro Khanna, D-Calif. It was moderated by Murtaza Hussain, a national security reporter at the Intercept.

We are not the only countries who have spent money on fighting and war in the last 20 years, while I am sure it is not quite as much as we have spent I am sure it is still a substantial amount of money. Have you ever wondered if we spent all the money we spend in pounding other countries into the middle ages and instead spent it on improving our world what it would look like? Would every person have enough food to eat? Would every person have drinkable water? Would every person have a roof over their heads? Would every person have access to medical care? The answer to these questions is most likely. But the problem is not all that money would go the right places. A large portion would go to line corrupt politicians and military leaders pockets. Our planet has enough resources to provide for every one. We just need to put our differences aside and work towards a common goal. DO we need a common enemy like in the movie “Independence Day,” to work together?


“The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It.” By Paul Collier;, “The 20 Worst Charities You Shouldn’t Be Donating To.” By Allen Lee;, “Who Gives Most to Charity?”;, “Charities Where Your Donation Goes the Farthest.” By Lindsay Tigar;, “Many Of The Largest Charities In America Are Giant Money Making Scams.” By Michael Snyder;, “12 Shockingly High Nonprofit CEO Salaries.” By Kate Wilke;, “Sizing up Salaries at Charities;”, “20 incredible charities that give 99% of the money they get to the actual cause.” By Catey Hill;, “Costs of the 20-year war on terror: $8 trillion and 900,000 deaths: A report from the Costs of War project at Brown University revealed that 20 years of post-9/11 wars have cost the U.S. an estimated $8 trillion and have killed more than 900,000 people.” By Jim Kimball;, “Salvation Army.” By Wikipedia Editors;, “AMERICA’S TOP CHARITIES 2020 LIST”;


First Charity

Charities provided education, health, housing and even prisons. Almshouses were established throughout Europe in the Early Middle Ages to provide a place of residence for poor, old and distressed people; King Athelstan of England (reigned 924-939) founded the first recorded almshouse in York in the 10th century.

Oldest Existing Charity in the World

Marking the 400th anniversary of the passing the Act of Charitable Uses of 1601, which effectively defined today’s charitable status, the Charity Commission is trying to find the oldest charity still in operation. The King’s School Canterbury, founded 597 and re-founded c. 1541, is currently leading the list.


The Salvation Army

What makes them different.

The Salvation Army (TSA) is a Protestant Christian church and an international charitable organization. The organization reports a worldwide membership of over 1.7 million, consisting of soldiers, officers and adherents collectively known as Salvationists. Its founders sought to bring salvation to the poor, destitute, and hungry by meeting both their “physical and spiritual needs”. It is present in 132 countries, running charity shops, operating shelters for the homeless and disaster relief, and humanitarian aid to developing countries.

The theology of the Salvation Army is derived from the Methodist, although it is distinctive in institution and practice. A distinctive characteristic of the Salvation Army is its use of titles derived from military ranks, such as “lieutenant” or “major”. It does not celebrate the rites of Baptism and Holy Communion. However, the Army’s doctrine is otherwise typical of holiness churches in the Wesleyan–Arminian tradition. The Army’s purposes are “the advancement of the Christian religion … of education, the relief of poverty, and other charitable objects beneficial to society or the community of mankind as a whole”.

The Army was founded in 1865 in London by one-time Methodist preacher William Booth and his wife Catherine as the East London Christian Mission, and can trace its origins to the Blind Beggar tavern. In 1878, Booth reorganized the mission, becoming its first General and introducing the military structure which has been retained as a matter of tradition. Its highest priority is its Christian principles. The current international leader of The Salvation Army and chief executive officer (CEO) is General Brian Peddle, who was elected by the High Council of The Salvation Army on 3 August 2018.


The Salvation Army refers to its ministers as “officers”. When acting in their official duties, they can often be recognized by the color-coded epaulettes on their white uniform dress shirts. The epaulettes have the letter S embroidered on them in white. Officers ranks include Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel, Commissioner, and General. Promotion in rank up to the rank from Lieutenant to Major depends primarily on years of service.

The ordination of women is permitted in the Salvation Army. Salvation Army officers were previously allowed to marry only other officers (this rule varies in different countries); but this rule has been relaxed in recent years. Husbands and wives usually share the same rank and have the same or similar assignments. Such officer-couples are then assigned together to act as co-pastors and administer corps, Adult Rehabilitation Centers and such.

As of 2017, the organization will not appoint homosexual people to posts as ministers, preferring individuals “whose values are consistent with the church’s philosophy”.



The Army has churches located throughout the world. They are known as Salvation Army corps. They may be implemented as part of a larger community center. Traditionally, many corps buildings are alternatively called temples or citadels.

Thrift stores and charity shops

The Salvation Army Family Thrift Store, Santa Monica, CaliforniaThe Salvation Army Thrift Store, Richmond Hill, On The Salvation Army, Eastfield, South Lanarkshire, Scotland

The Salvation Army is well known for its network of thrift stores or charity shops, colloquially referred to as “the Sally Ann” in Canada and United States, “Salvos Stores” in Australia, and “Sally’s” in New Zealand, which raise money for its rehabilitation programs by selling donated used items such as clothing, housewares and toys. Clothing collected by Salvation Army stores that are not sold on location are often sold wholesale on the global second hand clothing market.

The Salvation Army’s fundraising shops in the United Kingdom participate in the UK government’s Work Program, a workfare program where benefit claimants must work for no compensation for 20 to 40 hours per week over periods that can be as long as 6 months.

When items are bought at the Salvation Army thrift stores, part of the proceeds go towards The Salvation Army’s emergency reliefs efforts and programs. Textile items not sold are recycled and turned into other items such as carpet underlay. The Salvation Army also helps their employees by hiring ex-felons depending on the circumstances because they believe in giving people second chances. There are many job opportunities available for them nationwide and are able to move their way up to become a manager or even work in one of their corporate offices.

Adult Rehabilitation Centres

Some shops are associated with an Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARC) where men and women make a 6-month rehabilitation commitment to live and work at the ARC residence. They are unpaid, but they are provided with comfortable room and board. Many ARCs are male-only. The program is primarily to combat addiction. They work at the warehouse, store or residence. This is referred to as “work therapy”. They attend classes, twelve-step programs and chapel services as a part of their rehabilitation. The Army advertises these programs on their collection trucks with the slogan “Doing the Most Good”. The general design pattern is that an ARC is associated with a main store and warehouse. Donations are consolidated from other stores and donation sites and then sorted and priced and then distributed back out to the branch stores. Low-quality donated items are sold at the warehouse dock in a “dock sale”.

Hadleigh Farm Colony

Farmland at Hadleigh in Essex was acquired in 1891 to provide training for men referred from Salvation Army shelters. It featured market gardens, orchards and two brickfields. It was mentioned in the Royal Commission report of 1909 appointed to consider Poor Laws. 7,000 trainees had passed through its doors by 1912 with more than 60% subsequently finding employment. It is still operating today and has a Twitter feed @SalArmyHFE and website.


The Salvation Army operates summer camps for children, Silvercrest Residences, and adult day care centers. It has headquarter offices internationally, nationally and for each territory and division. Some of the other facilities include:

  • Homeless hostels
  • Residential addiction dependency programs
  • Children’s homes
  • Homes for elderly persons
  • Mother and baby homes
  • Women’s and men’s refuge centres
  • General hospitals
  • Schools
  • Maternity hospitals
  • After School Programs
  • Food Pantries
  • Overnight Warming Stations
  • Cooling Stations


A Salvation Army citadel (Corps) with a charity shop attached, in Worthing, West Sussex.

The official mission statement reads:

The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

Early beliefs of the Salvation Army were influenced by a book Helps to Holiness, which was to influence spiritual life of the Army for a generation. The sacred text of the Salvation Army is the Bible and the beliefs of the Salvation Army rest upon these eleven doctrines:

  1. We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God; and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice.
  2. We believe that there is only one God, who is infinitely perfect, the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of all things, and who is the only proper object of religious worship.
  3. We believe that there are three persons in the Godhead – the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost – undivided in essence and co-equal in power and glory.
  4. We believe that in the person of Jesus Christ, the Divine and human natures are united, so that He is truly and properly God and truly and properly man.
  5. We believe that our first parents were created in a state of innocency, but by their disobedience they lost their purity and happiness; and that in consequence of their fall all men have become sinners, totally depraved, and as such are justly exposed to the wrath of God.
  6. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has, by His suffering and death, made an atonement for the whole world so that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
  7. We believe that repentance towards God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and regeneration by the Holy Spirit are necessary to salvation.
  8. We believe that we are justified by grace, through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; and that he that believeth hath the witness in himself.
  9. We believe that continuance in a state of salvation depends upon continued obedient faith in Christ.
  10. We believe that it is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified, and that their whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  11. We believe in the immortality of the soul; in the resurrection of the body; in the general judgment at the end of the world; in the eternal happiness of the righteous; and in the endless punishment of the wicked.

The “Mercy Seat” in a Salvation Army citadel

The denomination does not celebrate the Christian sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. The International Spiritual Life Commission opinion on Baptism is that enrolment as a Soldier by accepting the call to discipleship should be followed by a lifetime of continued obedient faith in Christ. The Commissions considered option of Holy Communion is that God’s grace is readily accessible in all places and at all times, although Salvationists may participate in Holy Communion if attending a service of worship in another Christian denomination if the host Church allows. Although its officers conduct marriages, it holds a traditional Protestant belief that marriage was not instituted by Christ and therefore is not a sacrament. The mercy seat is a focal point in a Salvation Army Church, symbolizing God’s call to his people, and a place for commitment and communion, and is available for anyone to kneel at in prayer.[

Worship services

There is no requirement for anyone attending a service to be a member of the Salvation Army in any capacity (as a Soldier, Adherent or Officer) and services in Salvation Army churches feature a variety of activities:

  • The service often begins with a greeting from the Minister
  • Hymns are sung, accompanied by backing music
  • There is a scripture reading from the Bible
  • Prayers are led by the Minister leading the service
  • Depending on demand, a Sunday School may be run in another room
  • A collection is held to receive a financial offering, either loose money or coins in a cartridge envelope. This is sometimes referred to as “Tithes and Offerings”.
  • The congregation sings the doxology
  • A sermon on the Bible reading is then given
  • The service concludes with a benediction

Local corps usually sing contemporary worship music songs in Sunday worship services, as well as traditional hymns and music accompanied by the brass band. These are usually from the official Songbook of the Salvation Army. They sometimes use Christian songs in the popular music genre. Many American corps have adopted a mainstream Christian format with video screens showing words to music so that the audience and sing along typical of modern megachurches. Worship services usually no longer have a traditional brass band. Some Salvation Army corps make use of smaller ensembles of musicians. Often this ensemble consists simply of a guitar, piano or a keyboard, drums and sometimes a bass guitar and other instruments, especially during “Youth Fellowships”. The music played does tend to also take on a more contemporary style as is reflected in modern music today. The early Salvation Army bands were known for their excitement and public appeal, and the modern ensemble keeps to this ideology. Traditional hymns are still used in worship services and these are blended with other musical pieces from Christian Music Publishers such as Vineyard MusicHillsong, and Planet Shakers to name but a few.

The Soldier’s Covenant is the creed of the Salvation Army. All members of the church and congregants are required to subscribe to this creed; every person has to sign the document before they can become enrolled as a Soldier. Members have traditionally been referred to as “soldiers” of Christ. These were formerly known as the “Articles of War”, and include “Having received with all my heart the salvation offered to me by the tender mercy of God, I do here and now acknowledge God the Father to be my King; God the Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, to be my Savior; and God the Holy Spirit to be my Guide, Comforter and Strength, and I will, by His help, love, serve, worship and obey this glorious God through time and in eternity.”

Positional Statements

Positional Statements describe Salvation Army policy on various social and moral issues, are carefully considered and subject to review. They are derived from work by the International Moral and Social Issues Council. The Salvation Army opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide. Its official stance on abortion is that “The Salvation Army believes in the sanctity of all human life and considers each person to be of infinite value and each life a gift from God to be cherished, nurtured and redeemed. Human life is sacred because it is made in the image of God and has an eternal destiny. (Genesis 1:27) Sacredness is not conferred, nor can it be taken away by human agreement.” The Salvation Army official stance admitted in 2010 exceptions in cases such as rape and incest: “In addition, rape and incest are brutal acts of dominance violating women physically and emotionally. This situation represents a special case for the consideration of termination as the violation may be compounded by the continuation of the pregnancy.” It is also against the death penalty: “The Salvation Army recognizes that the opinions of Salvationists are divided on the moral acceptability of capital punishment and its effectiveness as a deterrent. However, to advocate in any way the continuance or restoration of capital punishment in any part of the world would be inconsistent with the Army’s purposes and contrary to the Army’s belief that all human life is sacred and that each human being, however wretched, can become a new person in Christ.”

In 2012, the Salvation Army published a “Positional Statement on Homosexuality” after receiving adverse publicity about their position on homosexuality.

The Bible teaches that God’s intention for humankind is that society should be ordered on the basis of lifelong, legally sanctioned heterosexual unions. … A disposition towards homosexuality is not in itself blameworthy nor is the disposition seen as rectifiable at will. … Homosexual practice however, is, in the light of Scripture, clearly unacceptable. Such activity is chosen behavior and is thus a matter of the will. It is therefore able to be directed or restrained in the same way heterosexual urges are controlled. Homosexual practice would render any person ineligible for full membership (soldier ship) in the Army.

On December 8, 2017, the Salvation Army released an International Positional Statement on racism which says that racism is “fundamentally incompatible with the Christian conviction that all people are made in the image of God and are equal in value. The Salvation Army believes that the world is enriched by a diversity of cultures and ethnicities.” 

Community services

Disaster relief

In the United States, the Salvation Army’s first major forays into disaster relief resulted from the tragedies of the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The Salvationists’ nationwide appeals for financial and material donations yielded tremendous support, enabling the Army to provide assistance to thousands. General Evangeline Booth, when she offered the services of Salvationists to President Woodrow Wilson during the First World War, thrust Salvation Army social and relief work to newer heights. Today the Salvation Army is best known for its charitable efforts.

The Salvation Army is a nongovernmental relief agency and is usually among the first to arrive with help after natural or man-made disasters. They have worked to alleviate suffering and help people rebuild their lives. After the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, they arrived immediately at some of the worst disaster sites to help retrieve and bury the dead. Since then they have helped rebuild homes and construct new boats for people to recover their livelihood. Members were prominent among relief organizations after Hurricane Hugo and Hurricane Andrew and other such natural disasters in the United States. In August 2005, they supplied drinking water to poor people affected by the heat wave in the United States. Later in 2005 they responded to hurricanes Katrina and Rita. They have helped the victims of an earthquake in Indonesia in May 2006.The William Booth Memorial Training College, Denmark Hill, London: The College for Officer Training of the Salvation Army in the UK

Since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, the Salvation Army has allocated donations of more than $365 million to serve more than 1.7 million people in nearly every state. The Army’s immediate response to Hurricane Katrina included the mobilization of more than 178 canteen feeding units and 11 field kitchens which together have served more than 5.7 million hot meals, 8.3 million sandwiches, snacks and drinks. Its SATERN (Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network) network of amateur ham-radio operators picked up where modern communications left off to help locate more than 25,000 survivors. Salvation Army pastoral care counsellors were on hand to comfort the emotional and spiritual needs of 277,000 individuals. As part of the overall effort, Salvation Army officers, employees and volunteers have contributed more than 900,000 hours of service.

The Salvation Army was one of the first relief agencies on the scene of the September 11 attacks in New York City in 2001. They also provided prayer support for families of missing people.

The Salvation Army, along with the American National Red CrossSouthern Baptist Convention, and other disaster relief organizations, are national members of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD).

Also among the disaster relief capabilities is the Red Shield Defense Services, often called the SallyMan for short. The effort that they put in is similar to that of a chaplain, and reaches many more, offering cold drinks, hot drinks, and some biscuits for the soldiers of the military to have, though, if a SallyMan is on deployment, the locals are offered a share in the produce.

Around the world, the Salvation Army have Emergency Services Support Units throughout the country and Emergency Disaster Services in the United States. These are mobile canteen vehicles providing food and other welfare to members of the Emergency Services such as bushfiresfloodsland search, and other both large- and small-scale emergency operations undertaken by Police, Fire, Ambulance and State Emergency Service members, and the general public affected by these events. Volunteers and officers run the canteen service and the response policy is to respond when emergency services have been on the scene for more than four hours or where four or more Fire vehicles are responding.

Family Tracing Service

The Family Tracing Service (sometimes known as the Missing Persons Service) was established in 1885, and the service is now available in most of the countries where The Salvation Army operates. The Tracing Service’s objective is to restore (or to sustain) family relationships where contact has been lost, whether recently or in the distant past. Thousands of people are traced every year on behalf of their relatives.

Youth groups

Bell ringers standing on the streets in Lausanne.

The Salvation Army includes many youth groups, which primarily consist of its Sunday schools and the Scout and Guide packs that are sometimes set up. The Scout and Guide packs are affiliated and sponsored by the Salvation Army but are open units allowing anyone to join, these units/pack observe Christian standards and encourage the young people to investigate and develop in their Christian faith. Some territories have Salvation Army Guards and Legions Association (SAGALA). In the United States these internal youth groups that are specifically for females are known as Girl Guards (older females) and Sunbeams (younger females). Adventure Corps serves boys who are enrolled in school for first through eighth grade, and is sometimes separated into Rangers (6th–8th Grade) and Explorers (5th Grade and younger).

Alove UK

In the 21st century, the Salvation Army in the United Kingdom created a branch for the youth, called Alove, the Salvation Army for a new generation. Its purpose is to free the youth of the church and their communities to express themselves and their faith in their own ways. Its mission statement is “Calling a generation to dynamic faith, radical lifestyle, adventurous mission and a fight for justice”, and it emphasizes worship, discipleship, missions, and social action. Alove is a member of the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS).


The Salvation Army was founded in London’s East End in 1865 by one-time Methodist Reform Church minister William Booth and his wife Catherine Booth as the East London Christian Mission, and this name was used until 1878. The name “The Salvation Army” developed from an incident on 19 and 20 May. William Booth was dictating a letter to his secretary George Scott Railton and said, “We are a volunteer army.” Bramwell Booth heard his father and said, “Volunteer! I’m no volunteer, I’m a regular!” Railton was instructed to cross out the word “volunteer” and substitute the word “salvation”. The Salvation Army was modelled after the military, with its own flag (or colors) and its own hymns, often with words set to popular and folkloric tunes sung in the pubs. Booth and the other soldiers in “God’s Army” would wear the Army’s own uniform, for meetings and ministry work. He became the “General” and his other ministers were given appropriate ranks as “officers“. Other members became “soldiers“.

When William Booth became known as the General, Catherine is known as the “Mother of The Salvation Army”. William Booth’s early motivation for The Salvation Army was to convert poor Londoners such as prostitutes, gamblers and alcoholics to Christianity, while Catherine spoke to the wealthier people, gaining financial support for their work. She also acted as a religious minister, which was unusual at the time; the Foundation Deed of the Christian Mission states that women had the same rights to preach as men. William Booth described the organization’s approach: “The three ‘S’s’ best expressed the way in which the Army administered to the ‘down and outs’: first, soup; second, soap; and finally, salvation.”

In 1880, the Salvation Army started its work in three other countries: Australia, Ireland, and the United States. Salvationists set out for the US in 1880, and when George Scott Railton and his team arrived they started work in Harry Hill’s Variety Theatre on 14 March 1880. The first notable convert was Ashbarrel Jimmie who had so many convictions for drunkenness that the judge sentenced him to attend the Salvation Army. The corps in New York were founded as a result of Jimmys’ rehabilitation. It was not always an Officer of The Salvation Army who started the Salvation Army in a new country; sometimes Salvationists emigrated to countries and started operating as “the Salvation Army” on their own authority. When the first official officers arrived in Australia and the United States, they found groups of Salvationists already waiting for them and started working with each other. Australia was the place where the Army’s organized social work began on 8 December 1883 with the establishment of a home for ex-convicts. In 1891 Booth established a farm colony in Hadleigh, Essex which allowed people to escape the overcrowded slums in London’s East End. A fully working farm with its own market-gardens, orchards and milk production, it provided training in basic building trades and household work.

The Salvation Army’s main converts were at first alcoholics, morphine addicts, prostitutes and other “undesirables” unwelcome in polite Christian society, which helped prompt the Booths to start their own church. The Booths did not include the use of sacraments (mainly baptism and Holy Communion) in the Army’s form of worship, believing that many Christians had come to rely on the outward signs of spiritual grace rather than on grace itself. Other beliefs are that its members should completely refrain from drinking alcohol (Holy Communion is not practiced), smoking, taking illegal drugs and gambling. Its soldiers wear a uniform tailored to the country in which they work; the uniform can be white, grey, navy, fawn and are even styled like a sari in some areas. Any member of the public is welcome to attend their meetings. As the Salvation Army grew rapidly in the late 19th century, it generated opposition in England. Opponents, grouped under the name of the Skeleton Army, disrupted Salvation Army meetings and gatherings, with tactics such as throwing rocks, bones, rats, and tar as well as physical assaults on members of the Salvation Army. Much of this was led by pub owners who were losing business because of the Army’s opposition to alcohol and targeting of the frequenters of saloons and public houses.

The Salvation Army’s reputation in the United States improved as a result of its disaster relief efforts following the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The familiar use of bell ringers to solicit donations from passers-by “helps complete the American portrait of Christmas.” In the U.S. alone, over 25,000 volunteers with red kettles are stationed near retail stores during the weeks preceding Christmas for fundraising. The church remains a highly visible and sometimes controversial presence in many parts of the world.

In 1994, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, an industry publication, released the results of the largest study of charitable and non-profit organization popularity and credibility. The study showed that The Salvation Army was ranked as the 4th “most popular charity/non-profit in America” of over 100 charities researched, with 47% of Americans over the age of 12 choosing ‘Love’ and ‘Like A Lot’ for The Salvation Army.

Charity Watch rates the Salvation Army an “A-” to an “A”,[57] indicating a high level of financial efficiency and organizational transparency.

History of Doughnut Day

In 1917, over 250 Salvation Army volunteers went overseas to France to provide supplies and baked goods, including doughnuts, to American soldiers. The women who served doughnuts to the troops fried them in soldiers’ helmets. They were known as “Doughnut Lassies” and are credited with popularizing doughnuts in the United States. National Doughnut Day is now celebrated on the first Friday of June every year, starting in Chicago in 1938, to honor those who served doughnuts to soldiers during World War l.

Organizational structure

As of 23 October 2016 the Salvation Army operates in 128 countries and provides services in 175 different languages. For administrative purposes, the Salvation Army divides itself geographically into 5 zones and the zonal departments at International Headquarters in London, United Kingdom are the main administrative link with territories and commands.

  • Americas and Caribbean
  • Europe
  • South Asia
  • South Pacific and East Asia
  • Africa

These are further divided into territories, which are then sub-divided into divisions. Some territories cover several countries (like Italy and Greece) while some countries may have several territories (Australia Eastern and Australia Southern) In larger areas, regional and area commands are also introduced as subdivisions of divisions. Each territory has an administrative hub known as territorial headquarters (THQ). Likewise, each division has a divisional headquarters (DHQ). Each of these territories is led by a territorial commander who receives orders from the Salvation Army’s international headquarters in London. A territory is normally led by an officer holding the rank of colonel (for small territories) or commissioner for larger territories. In some countries, the work of The Salvation Army may be called a command, led by a command commander. A larger command is typically led by an officer holding the rank of colonel. There is a Women’s Ministries division devoted to supporting women in ministry which has 766,369 members, founded as the Home League in 1907. Red Shield Defense Services  work with the Armed Services in order to provide assistance such as refreshments, soap, chewing gum, toothpaste and sewing kits. “Waves of Transformation” is a water resources project assisting deprived communities. The International Spiritual Life Commission, is convened by the General to examine and identify aspects essential to the spiritual growth of both the Church and individual Salvationists. Reliance Bank is the financial services arm of the Salvation Army, offering bank accounts, loans and mortgages. It is registered with the UK banking regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, registration number 204537. SAGIC Insurance is the insurance services arm of the Army, offering various types of policy, a nationwide removals service and a conveyancing service for buying and selling houses.

Heritage Centres are museums run by the Salvation Army which have exhibits and historical documents related to the history and work of the organization. Heritage Centers collect, preserve, catalogue, research and share material about the life and work of The Salvation Army. The International Heritage Centre in London can provide details of premises in any specific territory. Much of what happens at the High Council is governed by British Law, as set out in the Salvation Army Acts (1931 to 1968). The 2013 High Council consists of 118 members (62 women and 56 men) made up of the Chief of Staff, all the active commissioners and territorial leaders (some territories are led by colonels), each of whom was summoned by the Chief of the Staff for the sole purpose of electing a new General. The International Heritage Centre in London, England is located at the William Booth Memorial Training College and can provide details of premises in any specific territory and runs the @SalvArmyArchive Twitter feed. Another training college for officers is the Catherine Booth Bible College based at Winnipeg, Canada which was authorized in August 1983 by the Manitoba Legislature to grant academic degrees. International Development Services team work with some of the poorest communities around the world and run the official @TSA_Projects Twitter feed.

National Salvation Army week was created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on 24 November 1954, telling people to honor the Salvation Army during that week for its work in the United States in the past seventy-five years. The Salvation Army was one of the original six organizations that made up the USO, along with the YMCAYWCANational Catholic Community ServicesNational Jewish Welfare Board, and National Travelers Aid Association.

An early precursor to the Salvation Army becoming involved in safeguarding work was Catherine Booth writing to Queen Victoria regarding a Parliamentary bill for the protection of girls. Safeguarding legislation was strengthened by a new Act of Parliament, the “Public General Act, An Act to make further provision for the Protection of Women and Girls, the suppression of brothels, and other purposes, (otherwise known as the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885)”, which received Royal Assent on 14 August 1885 The Salvation Army was involved in getting this Act passed. Work included a petition (numbering 340,000 signatures deposited on the floor of the House of Commons by 8 uniformed Salvationists), mass meetings and an investigation into child prostitution. W. T. Stead of the Pall Mall Gazette launched a campaign in 1885 by writing articles on The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon to expose the extent of child prostitution which involved procuring a girl, Eliza for £5. She was cared for by the Army, taken to France and subsequently testified as a key witness at the trial of Stead and Rebecca Jarrett (the prostitute who had arranged the “sale” of Eliza) at Bow Street. Both were sentenced to 6 months in prison. The newly founded Salvation Army in Japan also encountered child prostitution, derived from a system of Debt Bondage. While an imperial ordinance (written in classical Japanese which few could understand) declared the girls right to freedom, the pioneer Salvationist Gunpei Yamamuro rewrote it in colloquial speech. His wife Kiye took charge of a girls home to provide secure accommodation for any girl wishing to give up prostitution. An imperial ordinance passed on 2 October 1900 stated that any woman who wished to give up prostitution only had to go to the nearest Police station and ask.

The involvement of the Salvation Army in work to combat slavery and people trafficking can be traced back to William Booth publishing a letter in The War Cry in 1885. The same year an escapee from a prostitution house turned up on the door of the Salvation Army headquarters and sought help from Bramwell Booth. Work with people at risk of exploitation continues today, with a specialist team, and working in partnership with the UK service Modern Slavery Helpline (telephone 0800 0121 700). Work is also done assisting homeless people by running 461 hostels and 20 Refugee programs.

Various Constituting Instruments apply to different aspects of the work of the Salvation Army. Legislation passed in the United Kingdom Parliament covered the following:

  • The Salvation Army Act, 1931 contained several provisions, firstly that the High Council be convened to elect a new General when the role became vacant, and reorganized custody of property held in Charitable Trust by the foundation of the Salvation Army Trustee Company being formed to hold all property previously vested in the General. Section 4 relates to a servin General giving notice of their intention to retire.
  • The Salvation Army Act 1963 established a non-contributory pension fund for Officers of the Salvation Army.
  • The Salvation Army Act 1968 relates to management of Salvation Army trusts.
  • The Salvation Army Act 1980 revised and consolidated the constitution of the Salvation Army to continue its work.
    • Schedule 1 covered the Religious Doctrines of the Army
    • Schedule 2 related to Common Investment Schemes and the establishment of a Central Finance Council
    • Part V covered the Election of the General
The worldwide expansion of Salvation army

The most recent statistics for membership from the 2018 Year Book are 111,859 employees, 17,168 Active Officers, 9,775 Retired Officers, 1,050 Cadets, 175,811 Adherents, 411,327 Junior Soldiers and 1,182,100 Senior Soldiers. Previous membership statistics (as quoted from 2010 year book) includes 16,938 active and 9,190 retired officers, 39,071 Corps Cadets and more than 4.5 million volunteers. Members of the Salvation Army also include “adherents”; these are people who do not make the commitment to be a soldier but who recognize the Salvation Army as their church. (According to the 2006 Salvation Army year book, in the United States there are 85,148 senior soldiers and 28,377 junior soldiers, 17,396 adherents and around 60,000 employees.) Further information is available from the Salvation Army International website.

General Brian Peddle has been the world leader of the Salvation Army since 3 August 2018.

The Salvation Army is one of the world’s largest providers of social aid, with expenditures including operating costs of $2.6 billion in 2004, helping more than 32 million people in the U.S. alone. In addition to community centers and disaster relief, the organization does work in refugee camps, especially among displaced people in Africa. The Salvation Army has received an A-rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy. In the United Kingdom, the Salvation Army is no longer the largest nongovernmental provider of social services; however, it still provides a significant service to people in need. The Salvation Army is the second largest charity in the United States, with private donations of almost $2 billion for the fiscal year ending 30 September 2007. and is a member of the American organization Christian Churches Together.

In 2004, the Army in the United States received a $1.6 billion donation in the will of Joan B. Kroc, the third wife of former McDonald’s CEO Ray Kroc. This donation was among the larger individual philanthropic gifts ever given to a single organisation. The donation came with certain restrictions that caused some controversy.

The International Congress of the Salvation Army is normally held every 10 years as a conference for all Salvationists from around the world to meet. The first such conference took place in London, UK, from 28 May to 4 June 1886, and subsequent Congressional meetings were held sporadically until 1904 and then 1990. The seventh International Congress in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, from 28 June to 2 July 2000, was the first held outside of the UK. The latest International Congress was held in London on 1–5 July 2015, in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Salvation Army’s founding.

Officers are given Marching Orders to change ministries within the Salvation Army. Usually, officers are given new marching orders every two to five years and reassigned to different posts, sometimes moving great distances.

In Russia the Army was founded around 1917 and the Army struggled on until 1922 at which point the situation had become extremely challenging. A Moscow court ruled that the Salvation Army was a paramilitary organization subject to expulsion. In October 2006, the European Court of Human Rights ruled the decision illegal. The Salvation Army International website lists the Russian Federation, now part of the Territory of Eastern Europe. William Booth’s dying wish for the Salvation Army to be established in China was fulfilled in a pledge made in 1912 by Bramwell Booth to his father. In 1915 the first officers were sent, and during the 1931 famine fed 100,000 people daily. Following political difficulties by 1952 the Army withdrew from the country but work still continues in the provinces of Macau and Hong Kong, as well as in Taiwan. In 1882 the Salvation Army was established in Asia with the first outpost in India. The Army also established outposts in Australia in 1879, Japan in 1895 and China in 1915.



Standard of The Salvation Army (Anglophone version)

The Salvation Army flag is a symbol of the Army’s war against sin and social evils. The red on the flag symbolizes the blood shed by Jesus Christ, the yellow for the fire of the Holy Spirit and the blue for the purity of God the Father.

Crest of The Salvation Army (Anglophone version)


The oldest official emblem of The Salvation Army is the crest.

In 1878 Captain W. H. Ebdon suggested a logo, and in 1879 it was to be found on the letterhead of the Salvation Army Headquarters. The captain’s suggested design was changed only slightly and a crown was added.

The Army’s crest contains Biblical references though its symbolism:

  • The sun with its rays represents the light and fire of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 3:11)
  • The cross represents the cross of Jesus on which He died as a sacrifice for our sins. (Romans 3:25)
  • The letter “S” represents the salvation which is available to all people through Jesus Christ. (John 3:16–17)
  • The crossed swords represent God’s Word (Hebrews 4:12). God’s Word is the Christian’s weapon in the salvation war (the war against Satan and evil).
  • The Gospel shots (Psalm 119:160) represent the basic truths of the Gospel; there are 7 in all.1 – The existence of a Holy God; 2 – The evil of sin are against God and man; 3 – There will be punishment for sin that is fair and everlasting; 4 – Jesus died on the cross for the human race; 5 – Salvation is for all mankind and is free to all who accept Jesus Christ; 6 – It is the responsibility of every Christian to do whatever they can do to spread the Gospel; 7 – God rewards those who are faithful with eternal life in Heaven with Him.
  • The words “Blood and Fire” as the “war cry” of the Salvation Army. It is Jesus’ blood that washes us clean from sin and it is the fire of the Holy Spirit that makes us pure and helps us live lives that are pleasing to God.
  • The crown represents the “Crown of Life and Glory” which God will give to all those who have been faithful to Him (James 1:12).

Red Shield

The Red Shield has its origins in Salvation Army work during wartime. At the end of the 19th century, Staff-Captain Mary Murray was sent by William Booth to support British troops serving in the Boer War in South Africa. Then, in 1901, this same officer was given the task of establishing the Naval and Military League, the forerunner of the Red Shield Services.

Salvation Army officers serving in the Red Shield Services in wartime performed many functions. The Doughnut Girls of World War I are an early example, serving refreshments to troops in the trenches. They also provided first aid stations, ambulances, chaplaincy, social clubs, Christian worship and other front-line services.

This symbol is still used in Blue Shield Services that serve the British Armed Forces but it is widely used as a simple, more readily identifiable symbol in many Salvation Army settings. It is common to see the Red Shield used on casual Salvation Army uniform. It is now official Salvation Army policy in the UK that the red shield should be used as the external symbol of the Salvation Army, with the Crest only being used internally. Therefore, any new Salvation Army building will now have the red shield on the outside rather than the crest which certainly would have been used on its Corps (church) buildings. This was “imposed” in the UK by the Senior Management with little or no consultation with members. Not all have welcomed this change.

In Australia, the Red Shield has become one of the country’s most identified and trusted symbols, leading the Australian Salvation Army to prefer to use this symbol over the logo on its uniform, corps buildings and advertising materials. In the 5th volume of Australian Superbrands it was recorded that “Research reveals that the popular Salvation Army slogan ‘Thank God for the Salvos’ has almost total recognition amongst the Australian public, achieving 93 per cent aided awareness”.


Salvation Army officers, cadets (trainee officers) and soldiers often wear uniforms. The idea that they should do so originated with Elijah Cadman, who, at the Salvation Army’s “War Congress” in August 1878, said, “I would like to wear a suit of clothes that would let everyone know I meant war to the teeth and salvation for the world”. The uniform identifies the wearer as a Salvationist and a Christian. It also symbolizes availability to those in need. The uniform takes many forms internationally but is characterized by the ‘S’ insignia for ‘Salvation’ and carries the meaning ‘Saved to Serve’, or ‘Saved to Save’. Different colors and styles represent different ranks including soldiers, cadets, lieutenants, captains, majors, colonels, commissioner, and even the General.

Characteristics of the uniform vary between ranks where accessories (the official term is “trimmings”) comprise epaulettes and hexagonal lapel patches. The uniform varies with the position and rank:

  • Soldier: plain black epaulettes (Corps name woven into base of epaulette) and black lapel patch with “S”
  • Musician: plain blue or black epaulettes and lapel patch with “S”
  • Cadet: black epaulette with 1 or 2 red bars corresponding to number of years of training and black lapel patch with “S”
  • Officer ranks:
    • Lieutenant: red epaulette with one silver star and red lapel patch with “S”
    • Captain: red epaulette with two silver stars and red lapel patch with “S”
    • Major: red epaulette with silver crest and red lapel patch with “S”

Other letters are substituted to conform with local language. The words “The Salvation Army” are woven into the fabric of the uniform as a logo on shirts, blouses and jackets.


The Salvation Army Dress Tartan

Since 1983 there has been an official Salvation Army tartan. It was designed by Captain Harry Cooper, for the Perth Citadel Corps centenary commemoration in Scotland. It is based upon the colors of the Salvation Army flag, with which it shares the same symbolism. It is rarely seen outside Scotland.


The Salvation Army has a unique form of salute which involves raising the right hand above shoulder-height with the index finger pointing upwards. It signifies recognition of a fellow citizen of heaven, and a pledge to do everything possible to get others to heaven also. In the case of saluting in response to applause, in circumstances such as a musical festival or being applauded for a speech, it also signifies that the Salvationist wishes to give Glory to God and not themselves. In some instances, the salute is accompanied with a shout of ‘hallelujah!’

Red kettles

In many countries, the Salvation Army is recognized during the Christmas season with its volunteers and employees who stand outside of businesses and play/sing Christmas carols, or ring bells to inspire passers-by to place donations of cash and checks inside red kettles. A tradition has developed in the United States in which, in some places, gold coins or rings or bundles of large bills are anonymously inserted into the kettles. This was first recorded in 1982, in Crystal Lake, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The red kettles are not only used during the Christmas season though. They are used throughout the year at other fundraising events, such as on National Doughnut Day in the U.S. On this day, some doughnut shops that teamed up with the Salvation Army have a red kettle set up for donations. Each corps has a specific goal chosen for them by DHQ [Divisional Headquarters] which differs based on size and capability

Red Shield Appeal and Self-Denial Appeal

The Red Shield Appeal and Self-Denial Appeal are annual fundraising campaigns in some territories, such as the UK and Australia. Each year, officers, soldiers, employees and volunteers take to the streets worldwide to participate in door-to-door or street collections. The money raised is specifically channeled towards The Salvation Army’s social work in each respective territory. Within the territory defined by the United Kingdom and Ireland (UKIT) this collection is known as the Annual Appeal, and it often carries another name that the general public would more readily know – in 2012 becoming The Big Collection.

Music playing

As the popularity of the organization grew and Salvationists worked their way through the streets of London attempting to convert individuals, they were sometimes confronted with unruly crowds. A family of musicians began working with the Army as their “bodyguards” and played music to distract the crowds. In 1891 a Salvation Army band attempted to parade and play music in Eastbourne, Sussex, England. This was in contravention of local by-laws and resulted in the arrest of 9 Salvationists. Unperturbed the Army continued to parade in defiance of the law, with the aim of gathering support for a change in legislation. Over the next few months the situation in the town escalated to such an extent that there were riots, and mounted police had to be called in from surrounding areas to try to maintain order.

The tradition of having musicians available continued and eventually grew into standard brass bands. These are still seen in public at Army campaigns, as well as at other festivals, parades and at Christmas. Across the world the brass band has been an integral part of the Army’s ministry and an immediately recognizable symbol to Salvationists and non-Salvationists alike. The Salvation Army also has choirs; these are known as Songster Brigades, normally comprising the traditional soprano, alto, tenor and bass singers. The premier Songster Brigade in the Salvation Army is the International Staff Songsters (ISS). The standard of playing is high and the Army operates bands at the international level, such as the International Staff Band  which is the equal of professional ensembles although it does not participate in the brass band contest scene, and territorial levels such as the New York Staff Band. Some professional brass players and contesting brass band personnel have Salvation Army backgrounds. Many Salvation Army corps have brass bands that play at Salvation Army meetings, although not all. The Salvation Army also fielded large concertina bands. From the turn of the 20th century to the Second World War between a third and a half of all SA officers in Britain played concertina. For an evangelist the concertina’s portability, its ability to play both melody and chords, and most especially the fact that the player can sing or speak while playing, were all distinct advantages over brass instruments.

The Army tradition in music is to use the popular idiom of the day to reach people for Jesus. The Army’s Joy Strings were a hit pop group in the 1960s and early 1970s in the UK and beyond, reaching the charts and being featured on national television. Another popular band is The Insyderz, an American ska-core group popular in the 1990s and early 2000s. Hundreds of bands carry on this Salvation Army tradition, such as New Zealand’s Moped, Chamberlain, Vatic, Agent C, and The Lads; England’s Electralyte; Australia’s Soteria Music Ministries, Summer Carnival Band, Crown of Thorns and Escape; and America’s transMission, The Singing Company, HAB, BurN, and CJD – Cookies, Juice, & Donuts. Saytunes is a website designed to encourage and promote these contemporary Salvation Army bands and artists. Another significant musical feature of the Salvation Army is its use of tambourines. With coloured ribbons representing the colours of the Salvation Army flag, timbrels play an integral facet of music in the Salvation army. They are mainly played by women.


In addition to books and magazines, the Salvation Army publishes sheet music and Facebook groups run by Territories and Corps officers, and unofficial fan groups. Due to the way in which the Salvation Army is constituted, copyright of some Army publications is vested in the General of The Salvation Army, and not necessarily the original authors.

There are official social media accounts run by the Salvation Army on Twitter and Facebook.

This is a list of books and magazines:

  • New Frontier Chronicle, news and networking for the Salvation Army
  • Caring Magazine, curating conversation around issues of social concern

Edition of The War Cry, 6 August 1887

  • The War Cry newspaper, first published in 1879 in the United Kingdom
  • Faith and Friends magazine
  • Salvationist magazine
  • Word and Deed journal
  • KidZone magazine
  • Priority magazine
  • Pipeline, The Salvation Army’s news, features and opinion magazine AUE
  • Onfire The Salvation Army’s news, features and opinion magazine AUS
  • Others The Salvation Army’s news, features and opinion magazine
  • Adult And Family Ministries Songboook
  • Kids Alive children’s magazine
  • Handbook of Doctrine
  • Salvation Story
  • The Salvation Army Yearbook 2018
  • Christian Mission Magazine
  • Christian Mission Hymn Book
  • Revive
  • The Salvation Army Year Book 2018 
  • Songbook of The Salvation Army 


General Bramwell Booth instituted the Order of the Founder on 20 August 1917 and the first awards were made in 1920 to one Soldier and 15 Officers. General George Carpenter founded the Order of Distinguished Auxiliary Service in 1941 to express the Salvation Army’s gratitude for service given to the organization by non-Salvationists.


Stance on LGBT issues

Because the Salvation Army is a church, Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 allows it to inquire into people’s religious beliefs in its hiring practices. The Salvation Army states that it does not “discriminate against hiring gays and lesbians for the majority of its roughly 55,000 jobs,”[151] but it has supported legislation which would allow it to deny employment and federally-funded services to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT or LGBT) individuals.

In 1986, The Salvation Army campaigned throughout New Zealand against the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986, which decriminalized homosexuality. In 2006, the Army released a statement regretting the ill feelings that persisted following this activity. It stated in part “We do understand though that The Salvation Army’s official opposition to the Reform Bill was deeply hurtful to many, and are distressed that ill-feeling still troubles our relationship with segments of the gay community. We regret any hurt that may remain from that turbulent time and our present hope is to rebuild bridges of understanding and dialogue between our movement and the gay community.”

In 1997, the city of San Francisco enacted a law requiring all companies doing business with the city government to extend domestic benefits to same-sex partners of employees. In refusing to do so, the Salvation Army declined a US $3.5 million contract. In 2001, the Salvation Army pressed the Bush Administration to exempt it and other religious groups from anti-discrimination legislation which it felt infringed on the organization’s religious freedoms. This request was denied, and was sharply rebuked by David Smith, then-spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign. “Gays and lesbians are taxpayers, too,” said Smith. “Their money should not be used by religious groups to fund discriminatory practices against them.”

In February 2000, the Salvation Army in the United Kingdom publicly opposed the repeal of Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, which prevented local authorities from “intentionally promoting homosexuality”. However, the organization’s UK website states that it offers “unconditional assistance and support regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, respecting the identity and choices of all those referred to them. … As well as having a right to be dealt with professionally, people can expect from us encouragement and a respect for their individual beliefs, ambitions and preferences”.

The Salvation Army Western Territory approved a plan in October 2001 to start offering domestic partnership benefits to employees in same-sex relationships. Members of various evangelical Christian interest groups protested the decision. Focus on the Family founder James Dobson excoriated the Salvation Army for abandoning its “moral integrity” and urged his radio listeners to bombard the organization’s offices with phone calls and letters. The American Family Association also accused the Salvation Army of a “monstrous … appeasement of sin” that resulted in a “betrayal of the church”. In November 2001 the Salvation Army US-wide rescinded the Western Territory’s decision with an announcement that it would only provide benefits coverage for different-sex spouses and dependent children of its employees.

In 2004, the Salvation Army said that it would close operations in New York City unless it was exempted from a municipal ordinance requiring them to offer benefits to gay employees’ partners. The City Council refused to make the exemption. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg‘s administration chose not to enforce the ordinance. The administration’s right to decline to enforce the ordinance was upheld by the New York State Court of Appeals in 2006.

In 2008, a trans woman named Jennifer Gale died outside a Church in Austin, Texas. A city council member attributed her death to workers at a Salvation Army shelter refusing to house her in the women’s quarters. The city council member later partially retracted their statements, stating “So what I wrote the other day about trans-services may not have been entirely accurate. I have since spoken with people at both the ARCH and the Salvation Army here in town to learn what they do for homeless trans folks. It turns out the ARCH, while a men’s only shelter, is actually pretty educated on the issues and accepts people as they present themselves. While this wouldn’t have helped Jennifer Gale except for day-sleeping, it is certainly respectable. They will also provide for privacy in the restrooms/showers for trans folks. The Salvation Army on the other hand… they do apparently have a policy of non-discrimination and they do not turn trans people away, but I’m not fully sold on their ability to actually understand the issue. If they are not full they will give trans people privacy (maybe they have private quarters of some sort), but if full and they are in an overflow shelter situation, as they were Tuesday night, I am under the impression that they will assign people according to their anatomy.”

Between 2010 and 2013, various individuals and organizations critically noted a “position statement” with regard to “same-sex” “sexual orientations” published on the Salvation Army’s website:

Scripture forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex. The Salvation Army believes, therefore, that Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life. There is no scriptural support for same-sex unions as equal to, or as an alternative to, heterosexual marriage.

Likewise, there is no scriptural support for demeaning or mistreating anyone for reason of his or her sexual orientation. The Salvation Army opposes any such abuse.

In keeping with these convictions, the services of The Salvation Army are available to all who qualify, without regard to sexual orientation.…

According to a June 2012 article in The Atlantic, the position statement was subsequently “deleted”. An article published by CTV News noted in December of the same year that “The site currently states that the organization’s position on homosexuality is ‘under review.'” A FAQ attributed to the Salvation Army’s Indiana division continues to acknowledge the position statement, responding in part: “It’s also important to note that our position statements are meant primarily as a theological guide for our church members and in no way impact our commitment to non‐discrimination.”

On 15 December 2012, in Canada, Andrea Le Good noticed a Salvation Army bell-ringer carrying a sign reading “if you support gay rights: please do not donate”. While the bell-ringer claimed he had permission from the charity to wear the sign, Salvation Army spokeswoman Kyla Ferns said that it had no part in the sign, and that the bell-ringer was pulled away immediately when the charity learned about it.

In November 2013 it was made known that the Salvation Army was referring LGBT individuals to one of several conversion therapy groups. As a response, the Salvation Army removed links to the conversion groups from their website.

In 2016, The Salvation Army withdrew support for an Australian safe schools program that focused on LGBT students, stating that “the provision of a government approved anti-bullying program needs to consider all high risk student groups.”

In November 2019, according to The Dallas Morning News, “singer Ellie Goulding … threatened to cancel her performance at the Cowboys‘ Thanksgiving halftime show” out of concern for “the LGBTQ community” following negative responses to an Instagram post that she made promoting the organization:

“Upon researching this, I have reached out to The Salvation Army and said that I would have no choice but to pull out unless they very quickly make a solid, committed pledge or donation to the LGBTQ community,” she wrote. “I am a committed philanthropist as you probably know, and my heart has always been in helping the homeless, but supporting an anti-LGBTQ charity is clearly not something I would ever intentionally do. Thank you for drawing my attention to this.”

The show “serves as the kickoff for the Salvation Army’s yearly Red Kettle Campaign”. Goulding later opted to perform.

The Salvation Army’s response

A positional statement on the Salvation Army UK and Ireland site stated (but has since been taken down):

The Salvation Army teaches that sexual acts should take place only in a monogamous heterosexual marriage, believing that this reflects God’s intentions for sexual behavior and provides the best environment for raising children.

The positional statement is, however, intended explicitly for members of the Salvation Army and the Salvation Army mission statement as of 2013 states:

The Salvation Army stands against homophobia, which victimizes people and can reinforce feelings of alienation, loneliness and despair. We want to be an inclusive church community where members of the LGBT community find welcome and the encouragement to develop their relationship with God … Our international mission statement is very clear on this point when it says we will “meet human needs in Jesus’ name without discrimination”. Anyone who comes through our doors will be welcomed with love and service, based on their need and our capacity to provide.

As of November 2013, activists were still calling on the Salvation Army to change its stance on LGBT issues, citing ongoing discrimination.

As of April 2018, the “Inclusion” page on the official UK website states that the Salvation Army stands against homophobia and does not permit discrimination in its employment practices or delivery of care.

On its USA Central Territory website, it explicitly claims that it serves and welcomes the LGBT community.

On the website of its USA division, the organization currently maintains an informative and promotional document titled “The LGBTQ Community and The Salvation Army” in which it states (among other things) that it is “committed to serving the LGBTQ community”; “when a transgender person seeks help from us, we serve them in the same manner as any other person seeking assistance”; it “is an Equal Opportunity Employer” with regard to “sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression”; and that it “provides benefits to the spouses of employees in same‐sex marriages”.

Continuing criticism

In 2019, 2020, and 2021, The Salvation Army continued to be criticized in publications like Vox, Forbes, and Out, for queerphobic and transphobic views and practices expressed by its leaders and policies, such as in public statements and lobbying.

Canadian charity work

During the 2010 Christmas season, the Salvation Army in Calgary, Alberta, refused to accept toys based on the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises because of a perceived conflict with the organization’s religious principles. One volunteer claimed that the toys were destroyed instead of being given to other agencies. The volunteer also criticized the Salvation Army for accepting violence-themed toys such as plastic rifles while not accepting Harry Potter or Twilight toys. A Salvation Army captain said that the toys were given to other organizations, not disposed of. This policy is however, not universal, as the Wetaskiwin corps of the Salvation Army has accepted Harry Potter toys. One captain called the series “a classic story of good winning over evil”.

Also during the 2010 Christmas season, the Salvation Army in Vancouver, BC, came under fire from advocacy group Families Against Crime & Trauma (FACT) for a program that provided goodie bags to federal inmates for Christmas by playing Santa to incarcerated criminals. The advocacy group called on the public to cease donations to the Salvation Army. Families Against Crime & Trauma takes a hardline position against criminal rehabilitation and objected to the gifts, however small, as undeserved rewards that should instead go to the victims of crime and their families. The Salvation Army responded that their prisoner visitation program was established over a century ago and that they provided these particular services as contractors to the federal and provincial government, as such no charitable donations were spent on the program.

Proselytizing during government-funded social service in New York

In 2004, the Salvation Army’s New York division was named in a lawsuit filed by 18 current and former employees of its social service arm, claiming that the organisation asked about the religious and sexual habits of employees in programs funded by local and state government. One member claimed the organisation forced them to agree “to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ”.[194] Proselytising or otherwise pursuing religious motives in a government-funded program is generally considered a violation of the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution. While the employment-discrimination portion of the lawsuit was dismissed in 2005, government agencies agreed in a 2010 settlement to set up monitoring systems to ensure that the Army did not violate church–state separation in its publicly funded projects. The organisation did not dispute allegations that nine-year-olds in a city-funded foster care program were put through a “confirmation-like” ceremony, where they were given Bibles and prayed over.

Australian sex abuse cases

From the 1940s to the 1980s the Salvation Army in Australia sheltered approximately 30,000 children. In 2006 the Australian division of the Salvation Army acknowledged that sexual abuse may have occurred during this time and issued an apology. In it, the Army explicitly rejected a claim, made by a party unnamed in the apology, that there were as many as 500 potential claimants.

In 2013 it was reported that private settlements totaling A$15.5 million had been made in Victoria relating to 474 abuse cases; a Salvation Army spokesman said that “This should not have happened and this was a breach of the trust placed in us” and that they were “deeply sorry” whilst claiming that the abuse was “the result of individuals and not a culture within the organization”.

On 28 January 2014, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, a royal commission of inquiry initiated in 2013 by the Australian Government and supported by all of its state governments, began an investigation into abuse cases at the Alkira Salvation Army Home for Boys at Indooroopilly; the Riverview Training Farm (also known as Endeavour Training Farm) at Riverview – both in Queensland; the Bexley Boys’ Home at Bexley; and the Gill Memorial Home at Goulburn – both in New South Wales. The investigation also examined the Salvation Army’s processes in investigating, disciplining, removing and transferring anyone accused of or found to have engaged in child sexual abuse in these homes. On 27 March 2014, the Royal Commission began an investigation into the handling by the Salvation Army (Eastern Territory) of claims of child sexual abuse between 1993 and 2014.

The Royal Commission published a case study report on the findings and recommendations for one of the above-mentioned case studies.

Unpaid labor in the UK

The Salvation Army has been criticized for making use of the UK Government’s workfare schemes.

Racism guide

In 2021 the Salvation Army released a guide titled “Let’s Talk About Racism” which encouraged its members to apologize for racism. This was interpreted by critics as an endorsement of critical race theory, during a time of broader public controversy around CRT in the United States. In response the Salvation Army retracted the document and stated that they do not endorse any ideology or belief system other than Christianity and reject the idea that “America is an inherently racist society”.

In films

The Salvation Army is featured in many popular movies such as Guys and Dolls and Major Barbara, The Salvation Army is only briefly shown or discussed in these movies such as a bell ringer on the corner in the movie Maid in Manhattan and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and briefly mentioned in Batman Begins. Additionally, in Lord of War, a main character (an illegal gun merchant) claimed that the Salvation Army had been the only “army” he had not “supplied”. L’Armée du salut (Salvation Army) was the title of a book written by Abdellah Taïa, which was adapted to film with the same title. A book detailing over 500 films in which the Salvation Army appears or is mentioned was published in 2020 entitled The Salvation Army at the Movies, written by Rob Kinnon-Brettle.

Film studio

The Salvation Army began producing silent films when they started their own film studio called The Limelight Department in 1892, which was the first in Australia. The original studio still stands today and is being preserved by the Salvation Army. One of the films included was a documentary called Inauguration of the Australian Commonwealth. In the years between 1898 and 1909, The Limelight Department produced over 300 films and documented Australia’s Federation Ceremonies in 1909.

In music

The hit song Seven Nation Army was inspired by the composer’s childhood mispronunciation of Salvation Army

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