The Salvation Army was founded by an evangelical protestant minister William Booth in 1865 who aimed to convert poor Londoners as well as prostitutes, gamblers, and alcoholics to Christianity. In order to improve the lives of his poor converts, the organization started providing meals, clothing, and other services to them. The first U.S. chapter was opened in 1880 and in 1897, the organization’s famous kettle fundraising drive provided food to more than 100,000 people nationwide. The charity now operates in more than 100 countries (Pickert).
Despite being headquartered in London, the Salvation Army is the second largest charity in the U.S. behind the United Way. Even though the charity raised $118 million through the kettle drive program in 2007, kettle drive normally accounts for around 15% of the charity’s annual revenue in the U.S. Other sources of revenue include in-kind donations, government funding, online and mail donations. The charity has taken steps to take advantage of the latest technology trends and now supplements its Red Kettle campaign with a Twitter Feed, a Facebook widget, a cellphone text message donation program, and an online kettle program. In the U.S. alone, there are at least 8,000 Salvation Army locations and the charity’s more than 3 million volunteers assist nearly 30 million people a year. The charity was also the recipient of $1.5 billion donation by McDonald’s founder’s wife Joan Kroc (Pickert). The donation has also led to the development of Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in San Diego. The center is a 12.4 acre family facility that provides family support, education, recreation, and cultural arts services. The facility can be utilized by both the members as well as the general public (Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center).
The leader of the organization is called The General and is based in London, also the organization’s headquarters. The U.S. operations are coordinated by the National Commander who is based Alexandria, VA. U.S. territory has been divided into four parts for administrative purposes. The Central Territory has its headquarters in Des Plaines, Illinois, the Eastern Territory has its headquarters in West Nyack, New York, the Southern Territory has its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Western Territory has its headquarters in Long Beach, California. Each territory is led by a territorial commander. Territories are further divided into divisions and there are a total of 40 divisions in the U.S., each under the command of a divisional commander. Each territory functions as a tax-exempt corporation and the National Commander is also Chairperson of the Board (The Salvation Army).
The charity has greatly expanded its scope of activities over the years. It now operates a Missing Persons Program which provided service to more than 209,000 people in 2011. The charity also provided 61,000 job referrals last year (The Salvation Army). The charity also operates The Salvation Army Family Stores which provides full funding to The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center network. The charity also organizes Youth Camps for the children and has taken steps to combat the global epidemic of human trafficking (The Salvation Army).
Pickert, Kate. A Brief History of the Salvation Army. December 2008. 30 January 2012 <http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1863162,00.html>.
Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center. About Us. 30 January 2012 <http://kroccenter.org/about-us/>.
The Salvation Army. Fun Facts about the Army. 30 January 2012 <http://www1.usw.salvationarmy.org/usw/www_usw_cascade.nsf/0/A95D577FDC902D2680256F0B0077118A?openDocument>.
—. Programs that help. 30 January 2012 <http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/www_usn_2.nsf/0/e3610fb5ddd550a1802573250030e32a?opendocument>.
—. USA Structure. 30 January 2012 <http://www.salvationarmylex.org/about/structure>.